Shit sucks, right now. Pretty much all of the news is so bad that it’s almost, but not, funny. You can’t even fall back on sports right now! This week I am conducting myself on the internet like a wayward pedestrian forced to traverse Murder Alley, neck stiff, the plane of my face at a perfect right angle to the vector of my movement, eyes fixed on the floor directly in front of each next and more hurried footfall, Don’t look, don’t look, just get through, just pop out on the other side with your head still attached, maybe the next alley will be less murdery.
This is no way to live. But also it is how nearly everyone I know is getting from day to day at this moment in history. My friends, this is what herbal tea was invented for. Or, well, I don’t really know why herbal tea was invented, or if it was really “invented” at all. Herbal tea is good for times like these, is what I am saying. What I am saying is let’s have a nice hot cup of herbal tea.
Herbal tea, and not black tea, is the thing. The caffeine in black tea will stimulate your various shits, and this is not the effect we are going for. It might slightly increase your heart-rate, say, making you feel tense and excited. There may be times for that. Like if you have to fight off some assassins or whatever. Right now, we are seeking a reprieve from tension and excitement. This calls for herbal tea, like, for example, chamomile tea. Let’s brew some chamomile tea.
Maybe you have your own tea-brewing method. Maybe you are a Tea Aficionado and nobody can tell you how to make tea. I am not here to take away your tea-brewing method of choice. If your tea-brewing method of choice outputs tea that you enjoy, and that method does not exacerbate the stress and anxiety of being alive and a participant in the world right now, then it is the correct tea-brewing method.
But let’s say you are not a Tea Aficionado. Let’s say you are a regular person, with no particular idea how to brew tea, but a sense that there probably are a right and a wrong way to brew it and a matching sense that if one more thing goes wrong right now you will launch yourself into the whirring blades of a jet engine, and you have just had the thought, Hey, you know what might be a nice warming restorative in this bleak, hellish moment? A nice hot cup of herbal tea. You can brew a nice hot cup of herbal tea for yourself, no problem. We’ll do it together.
The first thing is to find a tea bag. Just a regular old pre-packed paper tea bag will be great. The kind that comes in a box labeled “Sleepytime” or “Tension Tamer,” for example, will do just fine. You can brew this tea bag, and have, and enjoy, a nice calming mug of warm and good-smelling herbal tea.
Find a mug for yourself. A regular old coffee mug will do. You don’t need any special tea attachments whatsoever. Just a mug. Set it aside for a moment. If you have a little plate or saucer, you can put it there too, but it absolutely does not matter. Then find a kettle. Turn on the faucet and run your cold water until it is the coldest it can be. When it is all the way cold, fill the kettle with, say, two or three mugs’ worth of it—regular, cold tap water.
But I read somewhere that you need purified or at least filtered water or else the tea will taste all weird and wrong and bad, you are saying. The fancy expensive supermarket up the street has a whole aisle filled with water filters and scary-looking exotic tea-brewing devices; are you sure I don’t need to go spend a hundred dollars on tea adequacy? The kids can probably go without protein and vegetal nutrition until payday, I guess. Nah. Probably it’s great to have that stuff if you are a very wealthy Tea Aficionado, but your tea will be fine without it, just like all the fine tea brewed before that stuff was even invented. It will be fine. Your tea will be fine.
So. Now you have some cold tap water in your kettle. Close up the kettle’s openings and put the kettle on the stove and turn on the heat beneath the kettle. Hang out near the kettle. If you want to, while you wait, you can fill your mug with the hottest water the tap will produce, to warm the mug in preparation for the tea, but this is completely unnecessary.
Read a couple pages of a book. Check on the kettle a few times. When the water in it just comes to a boil, turn off the heat under it. If you put hot faucet water in your mug, dump it out and drop your regular old tea bag in there. Pour some of the hot water from the kettle into the mug. If you were able to find a little plate or saucer, set it on top of the mug, like a lid. Carry your mug with you to a nice seat, and wait, oh, five minutes.
You don’t have to set a timer. In fact, don’t check the clock at all. You have a general idea of what five minutes is like. If you get distracted by an engrossing section of your book, or a friendly conversation, or a cool-looking cloud, that is not only fine but good. Your mug of herbal tea will be okay. If something good and nourishing comes along and sweeps you away from the mug of herbal tea for all the rest of time, that will be okay.
But if, after a stretch of time that feels like it has been five or so minutes, you are still sitting in the nice seat, well, hey, there is a warm mug of herbal tea for you. A gift to you from a former you. Now you can drink it, or add a little bit of honey and lemon to it and then drink it, or not drink it, or hold it between your palms and lift it to your face and inhale deeply through your nose and feel a little warmer and calmer and better than you did a little while ago. That was the idea.
It’s none of my business but I recommend drinking it. And then I recommend finding a good dog and petting it. But first the tea.