I am a helpless, habitual coffee drinker. For the most part, I don’t drink yuppie, frothy coffee. No, I drink the black stuff, the kind that tastes like ash. I drink it like it’s a badge of American masculinity, I guess. My grandpa used to say, “real men take their coffee the way God intended it–black as night.” Statements like these have a way of making an indelible impression, a way of escaping from my own lips from time to time.
And despite my family tree of coffee drinkers, I’ve been pondering the brutishness of the coffee experience and it has me second-guessing the staple beverage of my life. Consider the process: coffee cherries are picked and their pits are removed. The pits, then mislabeled as “beans,” are roasted beyond recognition, crushed into powder (tantalizingly known as the “grounds”), and then expressed through a tortuous drip process, a botanical waterboarding. It is a violent process; one that, in my estimation, lacks the necessary refinements of civilized culture.
For juxtapositional purposes consider the process of tea making. Leaves are hand-picked, selected for their quality and character. They are dried, then placed in a cup where they are quickly (and humanely) doused in a hot-water bath. The resulting flavor is more delicate, the aroma often more complex, the caffeine buzz lighter and arguably longer lasting.
Undeniably, the tea making process is more refined, more civilized. So civilized, in fact, that it has become one of the centerpieces of British culture. And there is no culture more civilized than the British (despite their most recent Olympic shenanigans).
Except maybe the Japanese.
The Japanese have ritualized their tea drinking in a centuries-old ceremony associated with healing, spiritual enlightenment, creativity, and tranquility. And sure, these are qualities I’d like to enhance in my life–that along with civility. So after careful consideration, and in an effort to further explore the kinder, gentler, more tranquil drink, I’ve decided that I will replace coffee (my chosen vehicle for caffeine delivery) with tea.
That’s right. I’m going cold turkey.
Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, a method writer of sorts. Perhaps I’m diving in too soon, too fast–after all, I know relatively little about tea. But who knows, if I’m lucky maybe the tea switch will bring me a bit of clarity, a dose of tranquility. Maybe I’ll have sustained artistic swells instead of flash pot creative fires. After all, I am told that L.L. Barkat drinks tea, and she whipped out a novella in no time flat. (The Novelist speaks to the delicacies and elusive nature of a cup of tea, no less.) But if none of these things happen, I hope to at least learn to enjoy a good cup of tea.
In hopeful celebration of my new-found tea habit, I issue this challenge: recommend a tea to me, and do it in poetic fashion. It’s part of September’s “Tea for Two” poetry prompt. Take your cues from any tea or coffee related source–a tea package, tea related quote from literature, or the Republic of Tea’s “Tea 101” educational email series–and create your own found poem. Get creative. Leave your poem in the comments, or post the poem on your own blog and we’ll tweet it to the world using the hashtag #tea42.
Now, without further adieu, let’s get some creative works brewing.
Tweetspeak’s September Tea For Two Prompt.
This month’s found poem theme at Tweetspeak is “Tea for Two,” and we’re using words and phrases from tea (or coffee) related products as the prompt. We’d love you to join with is. How do you participate?
1. Look through your pantry and grab some tea or coffee packages, or any other tea or coffee related products you may have in your house.
2. Arrange a found poem containing words from the products. Make sure your poems touch on themes of tea or coffee.
3. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #tea42 hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.
4. If you aren’t a twitter user, leave your found poem here in the comment box.
5. Each week we’ll share a few of the poems. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and ask the winner to record his or her poem to be featured in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.
And thanks to all of those who submitted to last month’s August: Rain poetry prompt. The poems were all grand, but the grand prize winner is Chris Yokel, who turned the project on its ear (so to speak). Hoping to spin the book spine poetry prompt in a new direction, Chris created a CD spine poem, using only words from album titles in his personal collection. In “Night of Hunters,” he wrote:
Midnight on the water—
love and thunder whispers
in the wind.
Ten summoner’s tales call
an ancient muse
from the far country.
I love what you did with the prompt last month, Chris. Keep up the good work!
Now, let’s kick off September right. Who’s first?