I love tea. Not just any flavor, though. While Ron loves Earl Gray, the citrus makes my stomach turn and cream curdle. For me, tea is a comfort food, even if it is not technically a food. Although I like regular black tea, cinnamon is what I crave when it is cold outside. When I was a kid, Bigelow wasn’t available in South Texas. As soon as the first cold front came through in the fall, I would wake up to my mom making tea by boiling cinnamon bark from Mexico in a pan on the stove. She would make a huge pot, and we would heat it up throughout the day. She would sometimes use it as a base for oatmeal (which is a million times better than just adding powdered cinnamon to regular oatmeal), or my favorite, rice pudding. If it was a school day, she would put some tea in a thermos for me to have at lunch.
It was such a treat because the bark was rare to us, then. It required a trip to the border, or had to wait for a visit from my aunt who lives in Mexico, or a visit from some other family member who would go down to see my aunt. Either way, it usually was accompanied by cajeta, which would disappear long before the bark was all used up. Cajeta is a caramel made from goat milk, and the kind that we would eat came flat, stuck between sheets of an edible rice-like paper. I loved to pull pieces off the discs and hold them in my mouth until the paper melted, and then I would suck on the caramel until it disappeared.
Now as an adult, both cinnamon tea and cajeta are readily available. Bigelow is my cinnamon tea of choice. It’s nowhere near as good as boiled cinnamon bark, but it is a lot faster. I don’t like my cinnamon defiled with other flavors, so Cinnamon Stick is the only one I’ll drink. Now, Aubrey heats a cup of water in the microwave, and throws the bag in after. I add cream and five (yes, FIVE!) packets of Splenda. Although I will drink my regular black tea with just two or three packets of Splenda and cream, cinnamon requires extra cream and extra sweetener. I think it’s because when I was a kid, I drank my tea with tons of sugar, so it just doesn’t taste right without that creamy, sugary goodness.
Today, on a day when it is chilly, dreary, and wet (the South Texas version of winter), Aubrey made us tea for breakfast to go with some leftover gluten free pumpkin pecan muffins from yesterday. I ate eight of them as they came out of the oven, until Aubrey hid them somewhere in the kitchen. Pumpkin is gloriously gluten free, and we use it for all kinds of things; muffins, custard, pancakes. I love it when Aubrey bakes. It’s another cozy bit of my world when she is putzing in the kitchen and the warmth and smells from the oven waft into my bedroom. For her, baking soothes her when she is stressed, and after an emotional afternoon, she needed soothing.
So we are snuggled on my bed, watching Fringe, drinking cinnamon tea for me, vanilla chai for her, and eating muffins. After my shower this morning, I bundled up in sweats and a long-sleeved t-shirt, and wrapped up in my favorite shawl (my New Year’s Eve shawl that I crocheted in 2010 to wear to Ron’s aunt and uncle’s yearly open house). While we may not get anything done around the house today, days like these are my favorite. When people ask me how I could possibly want to live up north, this is how. Cold weather leads to tea, coziness, and crochet.
“And two for tea…”