Archive | January 2018

Tea in the Morning, Tisane at Night


Because one has caffeine and the other doesn’t. And while most tea brewing techniques yield a caffeine level of about 23mg per 8 ounce cup, my larger mug and longer brewing time means that I’m consuming about 110mg per 16 oz mug.

Compare that to the 32mg in a 12 oz can of Coca-Cola, and you’ll agree that while tea may have less caffeine than an equal amount of coffee (95mg/8 oz cup), it’s still got the magic buzz-juice.

Which may or may not account for the fact that I’m a morning person, but only after I’ve had that all-important first cup of tea.


But in the late afternoon through the evening, and all the way to bedtime, it’s usually time to slow down and relax. And what I’ve found what works best for me (besides watching B-grade horror movies on Netflix) is sitting down with a good book and a cup of tisane. And to that end, my favorite blend is still the one it’s been since around 1984, when I first served it to my younger daughter: Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime Tea.

We’d often each have a cup of “sleepy tea, Daddy” as I’d read to her the latest chapter of “Winnie-the-Pooh,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” or a few poetry selections from “Now We Are Six.”

In fact, she was so much a fan of that tea that her grandmother once took advantage of a special campaign and bought her a metal replica of the Sleepytime tea box.

What’s In It?

Chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn and rosebuds. All weighing in at a total caffeine content of absolutely none.

Another of my favorites is their Red Zinger. It blends tangy and fruity hibiscus leaves with refreshing peppermint, sweet orange, lively lemongrass and earthy wild cherry bark.

In fact, check out their entire line of teas and tisanes!

A Correction

I said at the beginning that I only consider real tea to be harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant. I was wrong, and for this, I apologize. I recently discovered that my own personal tea, black Assam, comes from the Camellia sinensis assamica. I stand corrected.

Regardless, enjoy your tea!

A Cup of Bitterness

As I was growing up in a tea-drinking family, my mother’s universal remedy for just about every conceivable ailment was a cup of tea and a side of cinnamon toast. This was so ingrained in me that even now–at the age of 67–I still find comfort in a cup of tea.

“There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.” ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

Changing Tastes

But as George Orwell tells us,

“…I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than 20 weak ones. All true tea-lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes….” ~George Orwell, “A Nice Cup of Tea,” Evening Standard, 12 January 1946

In my own case, I find it to be true. Oh, I’m not ready to go full-on Orwell in my habits–I still prefer milk and sweetener in my cuppa–but neither am I content with the tea of my youth: weak, insipid tea brewed from a bag and served with so much milk and sugar that it might as well have been called tea-flavored milk.

But I’ve slowly been cutting back on the additives. Less sweetener, less milk result in a more astringent taste. A slight bitterness. Sometimes I’ll add some Tea Masala, that Indian blend of spices that results in what I call Masala Chai, and most people erroneously refer to as “Chai tea,” not realizing that the very word “Chai” means “tea.” So they’re ordering a cup of tea tea.

Then again, what else would you expect from the nation that gave us the baseball team called “The The Angels Angels”? And just why in the hell did they move them from Brooklyn in the first place?

But I digress.

Flavored Teas

With the exception of Masala Chai, I find the idea of adding flavors to tea quite abhorrent. You are no longer drinking tea but rather some watered-down Kool-aid substitute.

And that’s why, with rare exceptions on the even rarer exceptions that I go to a restaurant, I won’t order tea. This is simply that American restaurants don’t know how to make a proper cup of tea. And why do we spell it “rest-o-RANT” but pronounce it “REST-ront,” anyway?

These are but a few of the thoughts I have whilst enjoying that all-important first cup of tea of the day. There are some mornings when all that gets me out of bed in the first place is the whistling of the kettle when my roommate boils his own pot of water to pour over the coffee grounds in his French press coffee maker.

And not even that works all of the time. Sometimes my depression is as black as my roomie’s coffee.

Still, I continue to find beauty, comfort, and bitterness in a cup of tea.

Revisiting An Older Topic

Why I Compose Blog Entries Off-Line… And Why You Should, Too!

This morning, as I was enjoying my first cup of the day—a nice Kalami Assam—I did something I’ve never done before: I had an idea for a new post, and so I opened my WordPress editor and started writing. I am a firm believer that absolutely nothing should interrupt the first cup of the day, but it was a pretty messed up morning.

To begin with, I didn’t wake up until 10:30, as opposed to my usual 09:00. So I didn’t drink my first cup until 11:00 a.m. Which is fine, if you believe in the tradition of “elevensies” (or Second Breakfast, as our Hobbit friends call it).

As I’ve mentioned earlier, my first cup is a meditation, a short period of mindfulness when I concentrate on the act of drinking the tea. With practice, I’ve managed to block out most distractions for this short time of experiencing the tea. But as I said, this was a messed-up morning, and so I wasn’t at my best.

I normally write my blog entries on my laptop, in Open Live Writer. But I also keep the WordPress app and a couple of others on both my iPhone and my iPad, in case I get an idea when I’m away from the computer. I learned long ago that I’m lying to myself when I say, “I don’t need to write it down—I’ll remember it.”

And so it was this morning: I had such a brilliant idea for an entry that I opened the WordPress app on my iPhone and spent the next 20 minutes or so composing an absolutely brilliant article, between sips of my cooling tea, and saving it as a draft.

After a wonderful fry-up breakfast—eggs, sausage, hash browns, beans, and toast(1)—I sat down at my laptop and proceeded to edit the draft.

Only to find it didn’t seem to exist. Anywhere. Not on my phone, not on my laptop—nowhere.

I had violated my own Robyn’s First Rule of Computing, which states:

Be Paranoid And Compulsive!

It’s not a matter of if you’re going lose files, but when.

My new practice in light of all of the above is to make notes in several places, or rather in several applications on whatever device I happen to be using at the time.

Yes, it’s more work. Yes, it’s a pain in the you-know-where. But not nearly as painful as losing a good idea.

(1) At this time of the month, money is scarce, and so my fry-up was lacking the beans. And the sausage. And the hash browns. Okay, so I had 2 eggs on toast.

The Biggest Lie I Tell Myself

“I don’t need to write it down. I’ll remember it.”

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I had a fantastic idea for a post. It was so fantastic and obvious that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before now. I thought, “I should write this down,” but the idea was so obvious that I knew I’d remember it in the morning.

Right. You guessed it.

I suppose I could blame it on the fact that my mind is always so busy that it gets overcrowded with ideas, each new one forcing out an older one to make room in the limited brain space I’ve reserved for blog ideas, but the truth–as painful as it is to admit–is I’m getting old.

This Post

The idea for what you’re reading now came to me while I was fixing myself some breakfast. This time I didn’t say I won’t forget it, so instead I’m writing it between bites of egg and toast (now THERE’S an idea for a post: my omelet recipe!)

There’s really no excuse for not jotting down my ideas; I never go anywhere without my iPhone, and the last thing I do at night is plug it in to charge before setting it down on the nightstand…within arm’s reach, I might add.

My Advice to You, Gentle Reader

Is quite simple: when you have an idea, write it down! Somewhere, anywhere. Trust me on this: you won’t remember it later.

Frustration is…

…Trying to Provide Tech Support to Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Learn Anything

My landlord Ed is a pretty intelligent guy. My rent includes free Internet, so from time to time I have no issue helping him with his computer. But usually the first I’m aware that he’s having an issue is when I hear him downstairs, screaming at his computer.

The latest problem began when one of the agencies he contracts with for jobs told him the reason he was having problems logging into their billing system was that he needed to empty his cache and clear out all of his cookies. So he did, only to discover later when he tried to answer a call on Skype that deleting the cookies broke Skype. He could see and hear the caller, but the caller neither saw nor heard him.

Robyn to the Rescue!

Except Robyn has never used Skype, and so knows absolutely nothing about how it works (Coincidentally, my ex texted me a couple of days ago asking for help with Skype.)

Okay, okay. I can take a hint. I guess I’ll have to learn how to use Skype. But so far as Ed’s problems go, well, I’m running Windows 10 and he’s still on Windows 7. So I’m worried about possible compatibility issues between the two versions of Skype.

A Learning Disability?

Can the fact that someone refuses to learn anything new truly be considered a disability? Because this, more than anything, is Ed’s problem: he doesn’t want to learn anything new. He has his own ideas about how programs should run, and gets frustrated and angry when they don’t fit those preconceived notions.

I once considered recommending he get a computer where everything works the same way (Macintosh), but then I realized that would mean having to learn new things.

Peace and Quiet

Ed’s pretty quiet now. At least he’s not screaming at the computer any more. So I’m going to take the opportunity to sneak back upstairs and learn how to use Skype.

Because I don’t know if it’s truly quiet, or if this is the calm before the storm.