When I was very young and I didn’t feel well, my mom would make tea for me. It was just regular black tea, Lipton or Tetley most likely, in my favorite mug, with sugar and milk. There would be saltine crackers, sometimes with butter (that may sound weird) or Ritz crackers served on the side. No matter what it was that was ailing me, I would instantly feel better. Try as I might, I was never able to duplicate this perfectly amazing cup of tea on my own, so our little ritual continued long after I’d grown into an angst-suffering teenager. I would sit at our kitchen counter and she would make me tea and crackers, and all would suddenly become right with the world, despite how certain I’d just been that it was ending. Even as a real grown up (the card carrying kind with a full-time job or children) no other cup of tea would do, even though I’d try to get it just right. I will confess, although I’ve never told this to anyone, that after my mom died I was at her house one day organizing some things, and I purposely made myself a cup of tea and I took it into her room. I opened her closet door and sat myself down on the floor, amongst her perfectly lined up shoes and with all her clothes hanging around me, and I drank that tea while crying my eyes out. Of course. Yet it brought me great comfort and was exactly what I needed. It was as if she was sitting right there next to me.
We all have rituals that infuse our days with structure and comfort. Consider the morning we miss one. Everything goes out of whack and we walk around wondering why we’re feeling so off. As much as rituals define our lives, it has occurred to me that they also define our relationships. I love the idea of a tapestry or a blanket as a metaphor for what we have with another person. If we carry that out one step further, each little ritual becomes a piece of thread with a color all its own. Stand back and you might not be able to visualize each individual thread, but take a step closer and they are all there, weaving in and out, and making up the tiny parts of a much bigger whole. They create the very fabric that holds together long term relationships of any sort, and they are a vital part of any new relationship that has just begun. In fact, we can go so far as to say that the rituals we begin developing with a new person in our lives can be the very thing that lets us know that they are going to become extremely important to us. And before long, our tapestry with them begins to grow.
Finally, when a person is no longer with us, the memory of all those tiny little threads can bring us such comfort, and we still seek them despite the fact that we won’t ever have them in quite same way again. But they will continue to make their presence felt in our lives. Besides our tea ritual, I also had a ritual of sharing coffee with my mom on a regular basis. I wrote a post about it last winter, and talked about the particular way in which she would hold her coffee cup in her left hand. My father was often part of our coffee ritual, bringing out the pound cake or the pizzelles to go along with it because “you always needed a little something sweet with your coffee.” I recently dreamed that my mom and I met in a coffee shop because I had something very important that I wanted to tell her. We sat together in the dream, with our coffee, and she held my hand and I began my story. She listened, and when I was finished she said, “Ok, let’s wait for your father. We’ll tell him too.” And so we did.
For today’s cocktail, I muddled some cucumber and basil, and used a green tea infused vodka from Charbay Distillery in California as my base spirit. I added in Velvet Falernum, an Early Grey tea simple syrup, some lime juice, and a dash of DRAM black bitters. I topped the drink off with a rose sparkling tea from Sound Teas. The three different sources of teas flavor brought complexity to the drink, with the spice of the Falernum and the bitters adding even more dimension. It reminded me of the way in which rituals add this same richness and weight to our lives, and to the relationships we share with those who are most important to us. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
Gently muddle the basil and the cucumber with the simple syrup and Velvet Falernum in the bottom of a shaker tin. Add the remaining ingredients except for the Sparkling Rose Tea. Shake with ice until very cold. Double strain into a Collins glass with ice. Top with 2 oz of the Rose Tea. and garnish with a basil sprig. Adjust measurements according to the size of your Collins glass. Enjoy!