By Shane Pendergast
There I was, on stage at a ceilidh in Stanley Bridge, celebrating my Prince Edward Island culture through song and stories. I was clinging to the ends of summer, soaking in the fleeting moments that had made my life so warm over those cheery months. But time, funny thing that it is, carries on. That night after the show I hit the road and was in Toronto by sundown the next day, head spinning as it does when the familiar cycles of life are broken.
So here I am, back in university at the dawn of autumn. The leaves are kissed with oranges and reds, and after a late-September heat wave, summer has finally surrendered to the inevitable cool breezes of fall. It felt strange unpacking my wool sweaters.
Fall is a busy time for students. If you’re like me, you’ve been spending a lot of time staring at books and computer screens. Now, everybody knows the importance of taking breaks from schoolwork. My guitar is always waiting patiently in the corner, and there’s a bowl of homemade chili in the freezer, awaiting my lunch break. But it’s also important to remember to design your workspace so that it’s favourable to your productivity (and mental stability). I like to keep a list on my desk with all of my upcoming due-dates for the month. I will also occasionally listen to instrumental music as I work. Finally, I like to have a pot of tea at my desk, preferably a caffeinated variety!
Just the other day I received my Subscription Box of Lady Baker’s Tea in the mail. It’s a brand new project where you can purchase a monthly supply of tea and other goodies. Needless to say, I was thrilled to receive it! There were three packages of tea in it, compelling me to brew a cup right away. The first flavour was “Blooming Blueberry.” With ingredients from Sri Lanka, South Africa, Egypt, Hungary, and of course PEI (blueberries), the brew was a true united nations of flavours!
The next tea in the box was “Butter Tart Supreme,” which has proved to be one of my favourites. Full of flavour, the tea is as satisfying as any elegant dessert (with none of the calories!!). To complete the tea triumvirate, “Cha Cha Chai” incorporates a smooth blend of spices, producing a drink that’s full-flavoured and coppery.
Also in the box was a pack of tea filters, and a spoon that holds “1 cup of perfect tea.” To finish it off, there was a recipe card for muffins made with the “Cha Cha Chai” tea. Talk about getting a box-worth!
It was heart-warming to receive a taste of home. It reminded me that in the many changing seasons of life, it’s important to hold onto the traditions that ground us. For me, tea is exactly that. When it comes to tea, the taste is not the only reason why I’m such a fervent sipper.
Indeed, there’s much more to tea than meets the tongue. I can vaguely recall my first memories of tea, when I was just a young lad. My great-aunt would pour a small amount for me, then add plenty of milk. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff! And I would be remiss not to mention the image ingrained in my mind, of the local recreation centre’s big metal tea dispenser, a staple at every community event. I’ve had iced tea on a first date, and a daily cup of Orange Pekoe brought to high-school every morning in an insulated mug.
One tea memory that stands out for me was a time last winter when my cousin and I camped out for a night at our family cabin in the forest. I had brought along a few bags of black tea, so I boiled a pot of spring-water over the fire and made a glorious brew! Some ashes even ended up tumbling into the tea, which only added to the authentic flavour worthy of the consumption of any lumberjack of old.
Ah… so many memories. Here I am, sitting at my desk, thousands of kilometres away from my home on the Island. But I sip my tea and it takes me back to my family, my heritage, and my memories. Even as I grow older, and as the landscapes of life change, I know that I have my traditions to keep me standing on solid ground.
There’s an old proverb that goes, “Tea is a cup of life.” I think I now understand the meaning.