I have always felt it is someone’s choice of hot beverage, rather than alcoholic drink, that tells the most about a person. Coffee people—you see them everywhere, rushing around, papers under one arm, brows furrowed. I don’t need to tell you about coffee snobs. Everybody knows at least one. Fans of hot chocolate are, well, a little sweet. I can bet they enjoy cake or cookies with their drink. And what about tea people? Tea people take their time. The tea can be paired with a snack or merely a moment of contemplation.
The fragrant or slightly bitter Chinese teas—pu’er, jasmine, that I grew up drinking signalled the end of large, satisfying family meals. After I left Singapore to study in the cold new environment of the UK, I felt the forlorn, belated nostalgia for those overlooked family rituals. I’d come to the end of my childhood and the start of something messier and harsher—that in-between period on the cusp of adulthood. In my dorm room, I boiled water in a small yellowish kettle I wasn’t actually allowed to have for health and safety reasons. I drank green tea and earl grey out of chipped, borrowed mugs. I went from taking the bickering togetherness of family meals for granted to missing them with visceral intensity.
Sipping tea always takes me back, momentarily, to my grandmother’s giant table piled with dishes, the clatter of my cousins around me, the feeling of being sated. You can’t rush a cup of tea. It needs to be nursed, if not it goes cold. I am a tea person, through and through. Alone and together. I’ve had serious conversations over milky black tea in someone else’s kitchen. I’ve sipped TWG Tea Darjeeling First Flush on a break from work, mind whirling, the musky sweetness and steam plumeing from a cup giving me a much-needed pause to think. After New Years’ parties or dazzling evenings toasting to good news, it is a pot of mint or chamomile tea I return to. Its grounding warmth is both a pleasure and a necessity, a ritual of mindful solitude both timeless and entirely my own.
TWG Tea is committed to crafting tea that will ignite a unique experience for each drinker. For more information, visit TWG Tea.
Sharlene Teo was born in Singapore and lives in London. Her debut novel Ponti won the inaugural Deborah Rogers Writer’s Award, was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award, longlisted for the Jhalak Prize and selected by Ali Smith as one of the best debut works of fiction of 2018. Her work has been translated into eleven languages and published in places such as the TLS, Lit Hub and the Daunt Books anthology At the Pond.