Tamaryokucha, Please.

18 Apr

**This is a guest post written by Zach Vasile of the Cinefile for an online media course**

Welcome to Zach’s tea experiences…..

People are always astounded when they hear that I don’t drink coffee or tea.

I utter the words and acquaintances recoil, as if they cannot possibly fathom the misery of an individual who goes without the spring of caffeine in their step. For religious coffee and tea drinkers, my preference for water or Dr. Pepper comes off like a Catcher in the Rye-style refusal to grow up and accept the realities of life as a mature adult.

Well, no more.

I finally decided to sit down and figure out which drink would ferry me to the Promised Land of hyper-stimulated adulthood. It couldn’t be coffee –I knew that from years of my father coercing me to “take a sip, ‘cause you’ll like it.” Tea – although I was no fan before – had always been seemed more palatable.

I was feeling oddly proper and post-colonial, so I started with Earl Grey – which I realized was an immediate mistake. It had a type of rind-like tang that was almost overwhelming, causing my face to involuntarily contort with disapproval.

Oolong with Black Dragon // Courtesy of orientalteahouse.com

Oolong with Black Dragon // Courtesy of orientalteahouse.com

I decided to switch it up by sampling an oolong tea labeled, “Black Dragon Tea,” a label that, I must admit, won me over with the promise of Oriental intrigue. However, rather than an Eastern flavor experience, oolong tasted more like drinking tree bark, which is an experience I’m not anxious to repeat.

An Irish breakfast tea by the prestigious Twinings tea company didn’t win me over either, and strangely enough made me look back at the Early Grey with longing eyes. What I didn’t realize is that Irish breakfast tea actually contains substantially more caffeine than other teas and consequently packs more of a wallop. For an inexperienced tea drinker Early Grey was a playful flick, but Irish breakfast tea was like taking a fastball to the mouth. I now understand why the Irish drink this stuff with milk.

Just as I was about to give up on my new addiction (and O.D. on caffeine), I found a mixture that actually made a believer out of me. Mind you – it’s not a concoction that you’re going to find everywhere, but what really floated my boat was a Japanese species of green tea known as tamaryokucha – a dark green drink with an unexpected berry-esque taste, which I encountered quite accidently through a Manhattan friend. Turns out I was just looking in the wrong places to start a habit.

I don’t know if my quest to acquire a more sophisticated drink pallet paid off, since I’m still not religious about consumption. Part of that is because I’m really quite happy with water, and the other part is that you just don’t find tamaryokucha at the local bodega.

But at least now I can go out with friends and not embarrass them by ordering my kiddy drinks. And I can now act very sophisticated and traveled as I order,  “Tamaryokucha, it’s a Japanese tea. You probably haven’t heard of it.”

Or I could just stick with the Dr. Pepper.

Courtesy of Amazon

Courtesy of Amazon


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