life

My Lavender Love Affair with Tea

I kind of want to give up writing and just drink tea full-time. I’ve gotten to the point where drinking tea is such a sensuous experience that I can’t even focus on a story while I drink. I’ve been challenging myself not to over-indulge my craving for lavender milk tea, but I found a tea shop down the street from one of my friends’ houses last time I was visiting, and got utterly caught up in the joy of confronting a wall of tea. Hundreds of teas! I felt like a kid in a candy shop at Queen Mary’s Tea Shop.

I had no intention of stumbling into a tea shop when I left the house that day, and I am not an impulse shopper, but somehow I got talked into buying a whole big tin of lavender rooibos (I’m still not entirely sure how to pronounce that word, so let’s be thankful I’m blogging about it not talking about it.)

Look at those glorious little purple buds! With a little milk and honey...oh baby.
Look at those glorious little purple buds! With a little milk and honey…oh baby.

There were a ton of fantastic teas there, and they had little sample jars so that you could smell the tea and get a sense for what it would taste like. I could have spent all day there. I wasn’t sold until I found the lavender tea…as soon as I smelled that, it took me back to the tiny cafe in Koreatown I went to while I was in L.A. back when I was on that first footloose adventure through the west in 2013.

That was the best cup of tea I ever had. It was drowning in milk, and an even frothy consistency throughout. It was really more like warm, lavender whipped cream than a drink. I don’t really know how to describe the crisis I had between my desire to savor every sip and the need to drink it before it went cold. Whenever I read about some cute cafe now, I can’t help but picture that darling shop with all the twinkling lights hung around the patio. It was, of course, a wonderfully warm spring night in L.A. I think that single cup of tea was the most expensive consumable I ordered in those entire two months on the road. It was worth it.

Then, two years later in a tea shop on a pouring day in north Seattle, I was mentally transported back to that moment, that freedom. My default is happily frugal, but I know when I encounter a luxury I simply must have.

I’m still trying to perfect my own lavender milk tea recipe, but I’m making progress. I’ve never worked with loose leaf tea before. I’ve never tried to froth and foam milk for that nice latte texture. It’s a process, but a delicious one. And hey, even if I can’t focus on my writing while I’m drinking, it’s a great inspiration to get to the end of the chapter and call it a day. Nothing is as calming or a more perfect prelude to bedtime than lavender.

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