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Instant Gratification and Tea

(post, Sarah Price)

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Instant gratification seems to be a symptom of the modern age.  Just look at our cell phones: with one small piece of equipment, we can call our friends, take pictures, record videos and audio files, play games, set alarms, and with an internet subscription we can extend its functions almost limitlessly.  

Now, on first glance many of you would call me a hippie.  Many people have.  I of course would reply that I am not—my qualifications for hippie-status are fairly specific.  I would admit to being somewhat earthy, sure, but I lack in some of the free-spirited activity and mindset that the people that I would call hippies tend to exhibit.  

For example, I mention instant gratification here, but I am not about to go into a long diatribe about its evils.  I am slow to buy into new technologies—I still do not have the internet on my cell phone, for example—but it is not because I think that it is a tool of the devil but because I know that as soon as I get that subscription I will use the hell out of it.  It’s like not trying a drug because you’re afraid you may like it.

I am, like most of us, a product of my culture.  Instant gratification may as well be stamped into my DNA.  This is why I wait as long as possible to buy into the latest-and-greatest, and this is why I drink the teas that I do.

Over the weekend, a coworker offered me a sip of his tulsi, and I scoffed at it.  “I know it’s really good for you,” I admitted, “but it’s a longevity-thing.  Right now I need some caffeine.  And, if what I drink is not going to make me feel awake, I want it to do something else—calm my senses, clear up my sinuses, alter my vision—something that I can notice right away.”  This was how the subject of instant gratification came up.

Most people don’t think of tea in this way.  People think of it either from a perspective of longevity in terms of health, or from a more immediate perspective in terms of taste.  I feel like I’m missing out—after all, I don’t make food choices because it will do something to me in any immediate sense.  I eat the foods I do because I crave them and they taste good.  There is a certain satisfaction that comes from strictly pleasing one’s senses, and I tend to dismiss tea in this respect.  I demand a lot more from my beverages.

And the funny thing is, I really do like the flavor of tea.  There is no reason that I shouldn’t enjoy it for enjoyment’s sake.  I ought treat tea less like a tool and more like a treat.  And so now, having already reached an acceptable level of wakefulness, I am going to switch to something that just tastes good.  I may even go for tulsi—imagine that! 

As a trade, for those of you who don’t think of tea the way that I do, here’s a quick list of my do-something-now favorites:

Yerba Maté:  Exuberant wakefulness.  Strong, grassy flavor.
Guayusa:  Calm alertness.  Rich, earthy flavor.
Valerian Root:  Sedative peacefulness.  Earthen, clay-like flavor.  Unmistakable pungent aroma (watch out!).

Keep in mind, I admire the function over the flavor of these teas.  The first two can be found in our tea store.  The third, as it has disagreed with the olfactory senses of the folks at Maya Tea, will have to be sought out at a local herb store.  Give these teas a try—and may we all be gratified!