As I sit here drinking my morning coffee, I was reminded of a blog post I read recently about ‘making’ yourself like food or drink that initially you don’t like. Unfortunately I can’t find the post right now, but it was along the lines of if you don’t like a taste that millions of others do, there must be something good about it.
I never used to drink tea or coffee. Coming from a household that drank tea daily by the pot full (my parents) you could say that was quite unusual. The only hot drink I liked was hot chocolate. I had one experience with Bovril; needless to say I shall never drink the stuff again.
I was the unusual one, right? Tea is the drink of the British. The standard offering of, “Tea? Coffee?” was met with me saying no, and could I have a cold drink please? Everyone drank tea. “What do you drink in the winter?” I’d be asked. The same as the summer, obviously… who has seasonal drinks?!
My lack of experience in making tea was a sneaky get-out of tea making duties for me. How could I possibly know how to make it properly if I didn’t even drink it? That didn’t work for long on my parents and I was often ordered to put the kettle on during the break in Coronation Street. What I concocted must have been palatable, because I don’t remember any complaints. Bonus points to my parents for training their child to make them hot drinks. Maybe I should have deliberately made it ‘wrong’ in order to be banished from that job (what is ‘wrong’ tea?). I did that once to my Dad’s sandwiches to try and get out of the packed lunch making job. I put whole peppercorns in his sandwich – to be fair he put A LOT of pepper on his food. That didn’t work though, and I continued to make packed lunches for the family.
When I started working in hospitals, tea making became a big thing. Nurses survive on hot drinks. It’s a little luxury (and important rehydration) during a long and heavy day. (They also survive on cigarette breaks, of which I’ve been on a few despite being a non-smoker my whole life.) I rarely made any tea rounds, because I think you have to want tea to suggest making it, and I was never the one to suggest, because I never wanted it. I felt a little left out, but didn’t think I was missing out on too much. And coffee? Gross. Memories of teacher’s coffee breath come to mind.
I started offering to make tea every now and again, when I didn’t have much to do, or when I thought my colleagues needed a tea break, cos I’m nice like that. Looking after people at work in some capacity has always been important to me, because it rarely comes from the people it should do (management) so fostering a kind and thoughtful environment goes a long way, especially in nursing.
I can’t pinpoint the exact time I started drinking tea, but I remember the first time I drank coffee and enjoyed it. It was in Stockholm, and I partook in a little daily ritual called fika. It was revolutionary! I liked coffee! It took a whole other country to make me enjoy it. At that time, around 8 years ago, the UK probably didn’t do the best coffee in the world. Admittedly, the addition of sugar also helped, but hey! I was now one of them. A consumer of hot drinks other than hot chocolate.
Tea must have followed suit. Sugar played an important part in this transformation too, but honestly, I still think it’s rather tasteless unless it’s really well made. I went through a phase of drinking tea several times a day, like a ritual. Putting on the kettle… getting all the stuff out… waiting for the tea to brew… and then slowly drinking it. Tea-making becomes a calming process. When we don’t know what to do, we offer a cup of tea. When we feel a bit out of sorts, we make a hot drink. When the rain is thundering down outside the window, how nice is it to have a cuppa and snuggle under a blanket on the sofa?
I’m now more of a coffee lover. I have a Nespresso machine with a milk frother. It’s a daily pleasure to drink a coffee from there, and my little ritual. It’s also a luxury, but cheaper than buying coffee each day. I want to try one of those stove top coffee brewers too. Has anyone got one, or tried coffee from one?
So that is my story of how I learnt to love hot caffeinated drinks. All you old-time tea and coffee drinkers – yes, you were right and I was wrong. It took me a while but eventually I saw the light – it was hot and brown coloured, with two sugars please.
Has anyone got any otherwise ‘popular’ foods or drinks that they don’t like, and feel like they might want to try again?
All photos taken by me.