I grew up in a household where the smell of brewing chai marked the afternoons. Come tea time, all of the day’s misspoken words gave way to forgiveness in a cup of spices mixed with black leaves and warm, sweet milk.
Tea became a fixture in my itinerant twenties. Like a paperback, tea is a portable companion for both escape and comfort. On the morning of my wedding, I calmed my jitters with sips of golden oolong. Supermarket trips sometimes involve a walk down the tea aisle for sore throat medicine (lemongrass and ginger) and rooibos (hangover remedy). I still ration a rare first flush Darjeeling, anticipating my grief for the day the tin goes empty.
Imagine my dismay then, when tea broke up with me during pregnancy. For nine months, I only opened my tea cupboard when hosting dinner guests. The same hormonal shift caused an aversion to books—the smell of pages was nauseating, and my attention span couldn’t last a chapter.
After my son was born, we moved into our new home. The echoes of our voices in the empty space overwhelmed me. “I can’t do this,” I thought, before remembering that I only had to do one thing at a time. I placed a row of books on the shelf, and a box of TWG Tea Apricot Tea in the cupboard, and immediately felt a shift—we were home now.
The tradition of drinking tea remains an important one in my new family. As I work through story drafts, curl up with a book, prepare my son for school or put him to bed, a faithful cup of tea sits waiting. The rising steam tinges the air with fragrance and calm. Tea is a quiet but formidable presence in my life. Like the deepest friendship, my connection with tea makes me feel whole.
TWG Tea is committed to crafting tea that will ignite a unique experience for each drinker. For more information, visit TWG Tea.
Balli Kaur Jaswal is the author of four novels, including Singapore Literature Prize finalist Sugarbread, and the international bestseller Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. Her debut novel Inheritance won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist award. Jaswal’s non-fiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan.com, Harper’s Bazaar India and Salon.com, among other publications. Her latest novel The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters was released to critical and commercial acclaim in 2019.