Anatomy of Tea

It is the fake kind. Not black, not even green. Herbal. Fake. She is a tea snob, and though I am not, her definitions have sunk into me, etched into my skin. The current skin. If the past is any indication, it’ll flake off eventually. Before too long.

She tells me that she just wants to be friends. She and her boyfriend are looking for a third party, if the spinning rumor mill wheel is to be believed. Why don’t they pick me? What’s wrong with me?

When we watch the sky together on the roof, she tells me she can’t see any stars. They’re everywhere, I tell her, and she says she can’t see them. I look at her, and her eyes are shut. This is the kind of shit she does.

The teacup in my hand is only cardboard. White, with a brown sleeve, it gave under the hot water and I thought it was going to collapse into my hand and burn me. But it held up in the end, sturdier than it looks. She always says she’s not vulnerable, that she doesn’t get hurt so easily. She says her eyes just get wet sometimes, that she hasn’t cried in years, that I’m projecting.

Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe I didn’t grow a new skin last time.

Photo credit: Lars Kristian Flem

Ginger and lemon taste like nothing else in the world. Nothing tastes like anything else, though, so I’m not sure why that’s supposed to be a compliment. When I told her she tasted like herself, unique, she rolled her eyes at me and I could tell she’d been hoping for me to come up with something less cliche, less used up. I tried to tell her how I felt, though, and she couldn’t stand to hear it. What else was I supposed to do, then? Cliches are a great trampoline to fall onto, they make you bounce up again.

The man with the gray hair who’s always hanging around her is just a friend, she says. But this is where her boyfriend and I agree: she should stop having friends who sell her cocaine for the price of a blowjob. I’m not sure who I want to punch more, the dealer or her boyfriend. Maybe they’ll take each other out for me, leave the field clear.

The night she touched my skin without prompting on my part wasn’t delirious. It was pretty underwhelming, in the end. Maybe that’s because I was expecting more than a drunk bear hug. She’s not so attractive when she’s sloppy. I guess I’m more shallow than I thought I was.

My skin is itching. I break out in hives every time someone says hashtag in order to emphasize their commentary on the world. It’s cold. Hashtag. She’s such a bitch. Hashtag. Love you, babes. Hashtag.

Hotels are really depressing when you’re there alone. Nothing is complementary anymore. The minibar is an invitation to expensive sinning, but even the water and coffee have little price marks on them. You don’t get anything for free, she always tells me this, but I never listen. It’s funny, though, because I don’t have faith in people either. I guess I have faith in corporations.

Corporations are people too. Her parents raised her conservative. She explains how she can believe in bad economic practices and in women’s right to choose not to have abortions, and I wonder how we haven’t stopped talking yet. I don’t take this kind of shit from anyone. I don’t think I can be friends with her.

I don’t want to be friends with her.

I never wanted to be, though. Some things you don’t really get a choice in.

When her boyfriend dumps her, she comes over to my house and asks if I have tea. I tell her I do, regular tea, Lipton. She picks up the back of a chair and slams it down. She yells at me that Lipton isn’t real tea. Haven’t I learned anything? She says I’m useless and leaves. I see her already pulling her cellphone out of her back pocket. She’ll call the grey haired man and end up in a skeezy motel with him.

I have another business trip to make. She still hasn’t called me back.

My suits are getting wrinkled. I need to pack better. I need to get a new skin. I need to get some new taste buds. I need to learn to discriminate in my tea choices. Maybe I should be a colonist, a racist, find somewhere new where tea is conquered. Then she’ll really like me.


99 thoughts on “Anatomy of Tea

  1. To be perfectly honest, you really SHOULD stock better tea.


    I dislike tea. Tastes like water. Give me coffee any day.

    This is my idea of what a blog post should look like, stranger. Evocative blocks of text that put thoughts, feelings and sometimes even smells in your head. Helping you along is a great picture. Obviously chosen carefully.

    What kind of piece of shit gets to both leave and arrive at their place with that dingy mess saying either goodbye or hello? Some European piece of shit, looks like. Look at the wall outlet. It looks like something out of 1984. But that month’s “tea ration” has probably already been depleted. Ah well. It wasn’t “real tea” anyway.

    • I think that if your tea tastes like water then your obviously doing something wrong. Give tea another chance, don’t turn your back on it.
      a tea lover.

      • Tea IS mostly water, you know!

        No, but seriously, I can get behind the idea of tea. Tried it. When I was little, even.

        I enjoy the history of tea, the “ceremony” of tea through the centuries; it’s really fascinating.

        But…coffee has it beat. And what’s with this “green tea” nonsense? That stuff is a waste of time and money, eh?

        “Oh, but it’s really good for–” they tell me.

        No time! Too buzzed on my 6 to 8 cups of coffee per day, crankin’ out the awesome. Oh, and coffee PLUS nicotine gum? Eye-Twitch City, Ashley! But MAN, am I productive!


      • haha green tea is for the beginners what you need is something with an awesome flavor like dragon oolong, I mean it sounds fancy schmancy and all that but it packs a punch.

        The way your going though you might need an intervention sooner or later. Maybe you shouldn’t stop drinking coffee, i’m afraid you might go through withdrawal. Don’t want that happening. Oh well, I can’t fully sway you to the light side (I don’t have cookies, like the dark side does). Tea v. coffee is a fight that will go on forever, just like cats v. dogs. I’m just glad you tried.

      • mikamanning says:

        for beginners you say?
        i went from herbal tea (peppermint is the real beginner, in my opinion) to cheap chai tea, to quality chai tea, to barry’s and green tea!

      • Absolutely right..actually Tea is a mystry and lot of myth is associated with it…it is rare blend of science art commerce & romance…shared by all in whatsevever way….and if it is Indian Tea spirituality & emotion will always be there no doubt about it….now if come to blog..its good but wrong choice of Heading….Tea is niether dog nor cay…it is passionnnn

      • Tea is refreshing, coffee is not. Tea has many delicate flavors, coffee does not. Coffee is cloy, tea is not. Drink cup after cup of tea, one cup of coffee is enough. Well I could go on and on, but enough is enough.

    • Thank you – and re: your comment below, thank you for reading the entire thing. Just to clarify, though, this post is fiction, a story, not something that’s actually happened to me.

  2. To mis-quote Shakespeare: “(Tea)…knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care…Balm of hurt minds…Chief nourisher in life’s feast” – okay he was talking about sleep, but both are essential.

  3. This post makes me think and I enjoyed reading it. It gives a deeper picture and a firm looking glass through your mind and how it functions. People are so lost without others but don’t understand until they finally pushed everyone away.

      • By “your mind” I meant your character. I brought the story into my outlook and found a similar meaning regardless to your actual meaning. I applied it to my past and thought of “how people push back in there own way including running away.” But really great job.

  4. Chain tea – like pumpkin pie in a cup, creamy sweet & darkly spicy, wake up and calm comfort all in one cup.

    But she’s not worth your time if she demands you change for her.

  5. Incidentally, I too have been keeping up on the comments, and I wanted to let you know that I never leave a reply on anything unless I’ve read EVERY word of what the person has written.

    So yeah, in response to what I saw on your Twitter feed on the right there just now, I wanted to make sure you weren’t lumping me in with the people who didn’t read beyond “tea.” (If you had four followers, maybe I wouldn’t care? But I see you’ve got a few more than that, so…)

    So! I’ll give you “weird,” though. I’ve definitely got a bit of that in me. But I don’t “phone it in” when it comes to my comments.

    Oh, and best of luck courting that obvious lunatic. I say set a “tea trap” with the fanciest shit you can find. You’ve got to use and then lose that bitch, like she did you.

    Enjoy a cup together and watch her mood turn cheery. Yeah, the tea you’re getting is THAT good. Spend a few extra bucks and write us a nice little follow-up, will ya?

    Afterwards, do some of her blow, saying you’ll pay her back (you won’t). Then double-wrap it (you mentioned you wear “wrinkled suits,” but I suppose that’s a little ambiguous, isn’t it?) bend her over the sofa for a few minutes and then kick her the fuck out of your life.

    Oh, and give her the tea as a parting gift, ’cause coffee is better and you don’t need that crap in your life, either.

    Offensive Playbook, OUT!



      • Hey! Thanks for getting back to me. Yeah, I’ve read a bunch of your other stuff since seeing this, so while I realize you have the power to zip in and out of a character’s consciousness, I uh…just kind of wanted you to be our passive hero in this one. Or heroine? 🙂

        Yeah, I think she’s a 5,10″ model-type brunette who cares about her appearance on the whole, but who can’t be bothered to dry clean her suits all the time. Not now, anyway. She’s under the spell of this tea-loving coke whore and doesn’t know why. But it excites her. She’s probably had boyfriends all her life, but this one…there’s something about her.

  6. Tea is the ceremony and coffee is the drinking. Most people do not want to take the time to do ceremony. They just gobble the coffee for the arousal from sleep. Tea is for those who contemplate the affairs of the day. Long live the tea drinkers.

  7. Mythoughts76 says:

    Well, at first I thought it was written from the viewpoint of a bisexual woman.. Then I thought it was a man’s thoughts.. Still not too sure.. Good writing though.. enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.

  8. I really like your writing style and how you tied everything together in this piece. Great post that leaves you thinking :)…Looking forward to read more of your works 🙂

  9. I completely agree with Offensive Playbook. This is beautifully written!
    And yes, Lipton’s – well, PG Tips any day 😉
    I enjoy your writing, Lipton or otherwise! 🙂

  10. theequalm says:

    Beautifully written, enjoyed reading every word and letter, even spaces between words seemed to be harmonic and graceful. Truly a masterpiece…

  11. I loved the strangeness that flowed through this piece- it was consistent and unique! Well done! I was also so curious while I was reading if it was a bi-sexual woman or man. You definitely brewed something bigger than tea haha (sorry for the lame joke). thanks

  12. I loved this post!!! I loved how it spoke to me in a language I didn’t realise I spoke, about topics I don’t really relate to…but could understand perfectly. Also, I enjoyed the sense that I never knew where it would lead next. Thanks for sharing a great piece!!! 😊

  13. Like the many others, I love your writing style. 🙂

    However, I maybe your friend isn’t only as fickle with/without an other half. A true friendship stands the test of time, regardless of who may come/go, and the honesty of true feelings.


  14. good post…keep doing it…as I am new blogger I posted couple of blogs and not able to get that much popularity please visit my blog …please help me by reading by any blog (as I read yours) and try to find is there any writing issues or I’m expecting too early…your valuable comments will really boost my writing skills…

  15. A Novel Challenge says:

    Great writing. I’m surprised that so many of the comments are about tea when this piece is about so much more than tea. I’m not knocking tea, I love tea – Yorkshire tea is the best!

    But what I love most about this is the grit, the reality, the rawness of emotion and the clever tea connection – if this woman were real, I’d say through tea, you (or the fictional you) were her anchor, her safety net and he moment of familiarity that could in many ways be her saving grace in a life of pain.


  16. This is amazing ! I absolutely love this. You are seriously talented. Your words just flow so freely and hit d Dr lol wcwcwccqq deep in my stomach. I don’t even really know why, but Its like I’ve experienced this before, in a dream or another life…. who knows. But your words are appreciated.

  17. Tea isn’t just tea. To me, tea is peace and relaxation. I drink at least a cup a day during the winter months. There is nothing like being snuggled up at home with a candle light and a delicious tea. May it be “fake” or not. Tea is relaxation. While drinking it, I just think about all I’ve seen today and what made an impact on me. So basically, tea helps me to digest the day.

  18. I really enjoyed reading that! I have not much experience in blogs and just started recently, but something personal like that… I think this is what blogs are supposed be like. Good story (:

  19. I realise this is fiction, but no wonder she kicked off if the only tea you had in was Lipton! Haha.
    Lovely little piece though, full of melancholy and contemplation.

  20. Tea is awesome. Although, sometimes it disappoints and doesn’t taste how we want it to. It’s still tea, nonetheless. I like my tea green.

  21. wow… awesome. i want to choose much better superlatives but these were my first thoughts on reading ur blog.. 🙂 a very good narration.. 🙂

  22. I’m curious to find out what blog platform you happen to be using? I’m having some minor security problems with my latest site and I would like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any suggestions?

  23. I don’t think you should try to change your opinions because of other peoples views. I’m a lover of Yorkshire tea but am perfectly aware that this is mainly because it is the brand and taste of my partners parents and reminds me of the great memories with them.

    Having said this, we should broaden our horizons and try new things to test our favourites but never with the intention of changing, that presupposes that our current view or favourite is wrong for some reason. I drink tea to relax and the related memories only help so I see no reason to try and change this, just discover and create new memories, favourites and associations. Who knows, these May just be better!

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