The comforting cup of good hope

2021-10-13, 10:12pm Literature

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Cup of tea

Sudhirendar Sharma

The pandemic has taught the real virtue of a cup of tea, without fail each sip offers a warm hug during such torrid times. The cups of tea that give a warm hug are also a salute to those untiring efforts by unknown people who pluck soft tea buds for further processing which makes the beverage a daily reality. Having co-existed with tea as its constant companion ever since, I wonder if I can claim myself to be a tea-totaler?

Friends ask; what do you do when you are not doing anything? Drinking tea, what else! Literally, that has been the case. It helps me take a break, sip through the past moments and slip into the next. It is more of a norm than an exception to break for a cup of tea between two tasks, considered a fundamental right in offices and at work places. The prime reason seems that a cup of tea - warm and comforting - inspires a feeling of relaxation and trust that fosters shared confidence.

Is it an addiction or a carefully considered compulsive habit? Inconclusive it may be, however, the way it works is even more amazing. If you are feeling sleepy, you need a cup of tea; and a warm cup of tea can put you to sleep as well. It works both ways. If you are feeling cold, tea will warm you; if you are restless, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; and, if you are excited it will calm you. No other beverage, and that too a concoction has so much on offer at an abysmally low price.

During college days, I was one among a few who would consume as many as 16-17 cups of tea daily. At that rate, by a conservative estimate one would drink anywhere between 22k - 28k litres of tea in an active lifetime. Friends will often wonder if it is tea that flows in my veins? Japanese count such expressions as compliments, and instead argue that ‘if man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty'. I would imagine that a cup of tea helps in seeing some of the great things in life.

I have experienced that unlike other drinks, a cup of tea in itself makes for good company. From the first sip to the last, one gets transported to the hills among tea gardens with flowing streams, chirping birds, and hovering clouds. From shattering loneliness to invoking freshness, a cup of tea at any time of the day is refreshing, something that we Indians simply can’t live without. Sometimes I feel it is an aggregate of many things rolled into a cup, the aroma and flavor are just physical manifestations.  

With its multi-variants now on offer, chai is one beverage that has come of age to meet all tastes and all needs. The pandemic has created conditions to explore as many of those variants. And, I can safely say that I'm not done yet. 

(Sudhirendar Sharma is a writer specialising in development issues. He is based in New Delhi, India) 

First published in Deccan Herald on Oct 13, 2021.