Saturday, November 20, 2021

T Is For Tea

It's almost week ago since Rick and I returned from a relaxing and long overdue visit with friends in Southern Maryland. We talked, ate shrimp, oysters, and crabcakes, watched fun movies, visited a local winery, and drank wine. And, for the first time in a long time, I drank a couple of glasses of Iced Tea. 

It's strange, this estrangement between Tea and me. I grew up on the stuff, both hot and iced. Each was a significant presence in my life at home. 

As a kid I was often sick--earaches, chest colds, sore throats, high fevers--these were my common companions throughout my childhood. I could spend hours and hours coughing, trying to sleep propped up on pillows or rolled blankets. You name the illness and I got it--measles, rubella, scarlet fever, mono, bronchitis, strep throat, and a bout of chicken pox at the age of fifteen that was so rampant and hideous that my brother, seventeen and also stricken, covered the mirrors in the house so we wouldn't have to see ourselves. (Those blisters were everywhere on our bodies. Everywhere.

One weapon in my mother's arsenal against all illnesses was Hot Tea. Hot Tea with lemon was her go-to for soothing just about everything. It was going to help my cough, my congestion, my sore throat, and it would help me sleep. (It is important to note here that her cure for stress and headaches, however, was not Hot Tea. Those were cured by Putting Your Hands In Warm Dishwater. I'm sure you understand her strategy.)

I drank in my youth probably several tanker trucks full of Hot Tea. My father was also a fan of Hot Tea, which he would on very rare occasions lace with wine. Because of all the medicinal Hot Tea I drank, I now associate Hot Tea with illness. I cannot stand to drink it at all. Thankfully, there are herbal Teas that contain little or no Tea whatsoever, and I can drink them when I want a comforting hot drink on a cold afternoon.

In addition to Hot Tea, we also had Iced Tea regularly in our home. My mother was an Iced Tea addict, and a gallon pitcher of it, homemade, was always in the refrigerator. She had an enamel saucepan designated solely for Tea making, and in it she would place (I think) seven or eight Teabags, and cover them with water, and set it to boil on the stove. That would boil frantically, and she'd set it to simmer for a time as she filled the gallon pitcher with ice, a half of a lemon squeezed and tossed in, and a scant cup of sugar. She'd let the water run ice cold, grab her long-handled spoon, and then the pan of hot Tea. After squeezing the Teabags dry against the side of the pan with her spoon, she'd quickly pour the Tea over the ice and start stirring and filling the pitcher to the top with water. We never once had cloudy Iced Tea, thanks to this method, a method I perpetuated in my own home once I was married. (But I skipped the lemon. Too reminiscent of Hot Tea.)

There was never, ever a time that my mother was without a glass of her Iced Tea by her side. As a matter of fact, once, when called home from her job at the bank because of an emergency (I had attempted to shave my legs in secret and cut a huge swath off the front of my shin and was bleeding), she bustled in the side door, dropped her purse, and before she did a single thing, poured herself a huge glass of Iced Tea. Then, and only then, did she call out to me and ask what on earth had I done to myself. 

My Iced Tea days fell by the wayside years and years ago, partially due to my migraine medication.  It's important that I drink water on this medication, and it has also rendered Tea almost flavourless to me. Thus, it seemed a heck of a lot of work to make Tea when I could--and should--just drink water if they tasted pretty much the same anyway. 

Ironically, my mother doesn't make or drink Iced Tea anymore. Occasionally, she'll get it at a restaurant. She drinks Hot Tea now and then, but she prefers coffee. Rick is the Tea Drinker, having given up coffee due to blood pressure and stomach concerns. He especially likes Earl Grey, which smells so much like Hot Tea with lemon to me that it sometimes gives me little flashbacks and twinges of feeling sick. And no, I'm not being dramatic; there's Science behind that reaction. Imagine if I were British! I'd have to renounce my citizenship.

Tell me about your Life With (or Without) Tea in Comments. 


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44 comments:

  1. Two words ...... TEA CUPBOARD! Make that THREE words . . . . . OVERFLOWING tea cupboard.

    I like it hot, iced, herbal, unsweet, lightly sweet, with a bit of honey, made into a London Fog. Shall I go on???? I'd make a wonderful Brit.

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    1. Dee--You certainly would fit right in as a Brit with your Tea habits. I used to drink Tea with milk also, but even that has become a pleasure of the past. I do sweeten my herbal Tea with honey, however, and prefer any iced Tea unsweetened if possible.

      I've found that lots of Tea drinkers love the variety available to them. Rick is an exception to that, but this is a man who eats the same lunch every single day.

      You also enjoy coffee, I know. Do you drink mainly Tea at home and coffee out at cafes?

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  2. Oh My gosh. Your mom made tea before she cared for your wound!!!!! Thats funny. She must have had a good head about her

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    1. kathy b--I didn't find it funny at the time, being scared and upset. Now, it's yet another story in our family lore.

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  3. In my house tea was always hot and only for illness. I cannot stand the taste of any kind of tea.

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    1. kayT--You have the same unfortunate association that I do, then, it seems. I think mothers at a Certain Era relied heavily on the comfort factor of a cup of hot Tea.

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  4. Does every mother have a Thing that cures all? It may be so. JG's mother offered flat ginger ale. My mother draped the couch in the living room in a clean white sheet and there I lay through the same cycle of childhood illnesses that you list, one after the other. No tea though. Her remedy was chicken soup. Ditto my mother's mother, so that one was a pass down. When my girls got allergic coughs (every spring and fall) that kept them from sleeping, my remedy was a teaspoon of sherry (cooking if that was what there was). Both of them grew up as abstainers from alcohol.
    As for tea, my father drank it and making it was a ritual. My mother drank coffee.
    I am loving the alphabet posts and your take on things. Dreading the arrival of Z. (Zed, up here,) You could, she said hopefully, go around again. There are also the Anglo-Saxon additions like ash and thorn (only Google does not know about them, I guess).
    I have never willingly drunk iced tea. Sorry about t hat.

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    1. Mary G--My, yes, I was a feature in the living room during all my illnesses, too. My bedroom was upstairs, so it made tending to me more convenient if I were installed downstairs on the couch.

      I don't remember ever being offered chicken soup, and certainly not homemade. My mother's soup-making came much, much later in her life and is confined to a sort of toss-it-all-in vegetable soup. It's tasty, but is not curative as far as I know.

      Whenever I awoke from nightmares, my mother made me warm milk with butter and honey. It was delicious and did make me feel better. I slept easier after a mug of it.

      I'm simultaneously dreading and looking forward to the arrival of Z/Zed for the alphabet posts. Sometimes, I take quite some time trying to figure out what the heck to write about for each letter. It's not as helpful a construct as one would think. I am grateful for your enthusiastic support. Always.

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    2. It probably WAS my grandmother's soup, now I come to think of it. Dropped off in a 'panniken' (?).

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    3. Mary--Love the term pannikin. It reminds me of a lovely, dear neighbour who used to live one street over and who passed away recently. Lou used to make homemade soup and walk over, cutting through back yards, and deliver it in a little metal receptacle which could only be called a pannikin. He wrapped a piece of stew meat separately,in foil, to be added in. He was the sweetest man. I taught with his wife. It was delicious, and all the moreso since he took such care for me.

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  5. I love iced tea, plain, no sugar or sweetener. A squeeze of lemon. I didn’t grow up drinking tea, but when I decided to give up Diet Coke, I found a cup of hot tea in the morning to give me the caffeine I craved to be lovely. I know, I used to wake up and drink a Diet Coke. Insane. And I’m not even from the south. Anyway, I first switched to seltzer water, wanting the cold and the bubbles, but when the weather got cold, I tried hot tea. Not with lemon, but instead the way my husband’s family drinks it…with milk and sugar. Now I drink it with milk and Splenda. I am a bit of a snob about it, and I want tea imported from England. I get it at the Indian grocery store. I don’t blame you for not wanting it, as it was associated with illness for you. When we were sick, we got 7-Up and saltines, or chicken noodle soup. But both of those things are neutral for me now, or at the most, a little comforting.

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    1. J--My eldest, Jared, drinks Diet Coke in the mornings. He gave up coffee because of his stomach, but is now addicted to fountain-style Diet Coke, or if he must, a bottle or can. So I get it.

      I drank Tea with milk and sugar, too, when I was not coughing. I occasionally have some herbal blends that way. Is your imported Tea the loose kind? I had a friend who was Irish, and she spent lots of time in Ireland, sometimes breeding and training horses. She refused to drink anything but good Irish loose tea made properly in a china teapot, and she travelled with one everywhere.

      Yes to the saltines during stomach illness, which I could then replace with toast scantly buttered if I "kept those down." Chicken noodle soup was oddly absent from our home during illness, unless I simply don't remember.

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  6. I'm glad you had such a lovely trip to Maryland, Nance. Being right across the river, our weather is pretty much the same and we have been lucky to still have a good number of warm days. Just this past Thursday was glorious, in the high 70s. It's been chilly since but tomorrow will be back up to the high 50s and won't go below 47 tomorrow night. I'll take it!

    Your memory for details in the past always amazes me, Nance. That you can remember that your mom drank her iced tea before attending to your injury and that you remember that ... wow. I've never heard of and can't imagine wine in tea. That does not sound tasty to me.

    I grew up drinking both iced tea and hot tea but loved hot tea more. For decades hot tea was my thing but now I rarely drink it. Coffee has never been my thing although I used to drink the faux General Foods International Coffees back in the day (haha) and love coffee-flavored desserts.

    It's always so sad when any food or drink item becomes associated with illness. I have some of those myself and sadly, I don't see the illness association ever going away.

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    1. I missed some words there. :-( I meant to say "and that you remember that while being injured ..."

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    2. Shirley--I think I remember that so distinctly because I was so astonished and upset by it. How could she stop and do that before taking care of me?! My younger sister was also there and she tells the story, too. That corroboration helps.

      I used to love those International Coffees, too, and used them as an after-school treat or reward in the colder months. I found them delicious and relaxing, just like in the commercials! At some point, I probably saw the calorie count on the side of the cute little tin and came to my senses. Sigh.

      Our trip was so nice. There was rain, but only in the overnight or very early morning. It was relaxing and enjoyable to reconnect with friends and not have any responsibilities for a few days. We visited a winery in Leonardtown known for their chambourcin--a varietal we hadn't had for ages--and did a tasting and bought a mixed case of good wines. Unfortunately, we drove home in wintry mix and came home to snow. Ugh. And cold, cold weather now. I'm so glad your weather is much more reasonable!

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  7. Tea is, and has always been, life to me. Whether hot or iced, and if possible with lemon.

    In our house growing up, there was tea (what others call Hot Tea), and iced tea. But my parents definition of "Hot Tea" was tea with whiskey in it, which was a cure for nearly every ailment known to man ...

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    1. Bridget--Tea always sounds so nice and cozy to me. And it looks nice and cozy. I wish I could be a Tea Drinker. Alas, it's not to be.

      I get the Tea With Whiskey cure. Honestly, it's not too hard to figure out: it can warm you up if you're chilled; it can settle your nerves/help with stress; it can help you fall asleep; it can take the edge off pain; and it can even help a breastfeeding mom "let down." It's the same as the Glass Of Wine cure. LOL.

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  8. I didn't grow up drinking iced tea or hot tea. When I met the coach he loved sweet tea and I hopped on the sweet tea train. After a few years, we just stopped making it. Not sure why, but it coincided with us moving to TX. Different lifestyle I suppose.
    Now, I love an unsweet iced tea with lunch if we go out. We do make a pitcher and keep it in the fridge, but mostly only the husband drinks it. And only unsweet now.
    Do you know they sell COLD BREW bags? This is what we use; four bags seeping into a pitcher of room temp or cold water and it tastes great. I'm sure your Mom would be horrified.

    I hate that you had so many illnesses as a kid. I had to giggle about your Mom getting a glass of iced tea before checking in on you.

    I usually only have hot tea if I'm not feeling well or if I feel like having some 'sleepy time' herbal tea before bed.

    So happy you had a nice get-away!

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    1. BBSuz--I do know about the cold brew Teabags. I admit that I'm befuddled as to how they're different than regular Tea, just as I'm completely at a loss as to how cold brew coffee is not just regular coffee over ice. I'm so behind on all the beverage trends. I do remember the whole Sun Tea craze when everyone had a huge glass jar of water and Teabags sitting in their yards, waiting for Nature to make them some Iced Tea. Good times!

      What a bunch of hippies. LOL.

      Oh, another fan of the Hot Tea remedy! My mother would love that. I found an herbal Tea that is very calming and nice containing lavender, cinnamon, and chamomile. I think perhaps Lipton makes it and calls it Stress Therapy or something. I've always been fond of lavender.

      Did you stop drinking sweetened Tea because of health/calories, trying to cut down on sugar, or because you simply didn't care for the taste anymore? I find that I am trying to cut down on sugar and that, as a result, I find most sugary things too sweet now.

      Thank you for sharing my joy about getting away to visit my friends in MD. It had been so long, and we truly missed one another. I hope it's not so long between visits again.

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  9. I grew up on sweet, iced tea. My mother made it the exact same way as your mother - minus the lemon. The first time I had a glass of iced tea with lemon in it, I was horrified. I haven't had iced tea in years. Never had hot tea...it just didn't appeal.

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    1. Gigi--I'm surprised we didn't have Iced Tea in our baby bottles, it was so much of our daily lives. We had it with dinner every night unless we requested water or milk. My mother left the lemon in it, which made second- and third-day Tea much less appealing to most of us. It was mostly bitter lemony by then. We'd beg her in later years as we got older NOT to put lemon in it, but to offer it in wedges on the side. Eventually, she gave in to our request.

      I can imagine your dismay being offered lemon with iced tea if you weren't used to it all along. Have you ever tried it since? I prefer it without as well, but I don't care if it's already in there.

      You're not missing a whole lot not having had Hot Tea, but you might be the only person I know who's never had even a sip. I like that little factoid about you!

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  10. My mom was a hot tea drinker all of her life and my dad wouldn't touch the stuff. My nieces had little tea parties with their grandmother and drink tea to this day. I'm more an on again, off again tea drinker depending on where I'm at in the teeth cleaning cycle. I hate that way tea stains my teeth, otherwise I'd probably drink in more often.

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    1. Jean--Tea parties with actual tea? How lovely and sweet. I had a wonderful china tea set as a kid that came in a real wooden cabinet, complete with spoons. I never had actual hot tea with my tea parties, though.

      You know, I never give a thought to how wine or coffee may stain my teeth. Maybe I should.

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  11. We never had hot tea in our home. My Pennsylvania aunt would make it when she visited & we always thought that was so weird! We always had iced tea with LOTS of sugar - no lemon. But when we were very small we were considered too young for full strength tea, so we had tea-milk - which was about half & half & served over ice. It was a treat to have it at family meals at my grandmother's house.

    When I was in Zambia after college I finally jumped on the hot tea bandwagon. I liked mine with milk, but no sweetener. I had my very first cup on the British Caledonia airplane on my way over there.

    I've been trying to cut down on Diet Sundrop, so I've been having tea in the mornings. I pour it over ice & take it to work with me. Maybe if it ever gets cold down here I'll have it hot instead.

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    1. Bug--Is hot tea not a Southern thing at all? I know sweet tea (iced) definitely is. I've heard of your "milk tea", also sometimes called cambric tea, but I've heard of it hot only. I have to say, having it iced sounds less than appetizing to me.

      I used to drink my hot tea with milk and sugar when I wasn't sick with a cough or congestion. I like the idea that you were introduced to hot tea on a British airplane!

      I wish Jared would cut way back on his diet soda intake as well. It's not great for you, all that artificial sweetener. Your idea of brewing tea and pouring it over ice is a really good one. I'll pass it on.

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    2. I don't know if hot tea is not a southern thing, but it was definitely not a thing in my family - both on my mother's side & my father's side. No hot tea.

      I make my iced tea by microwaving water (because I don't want to take the time for the stove), then I put a teabag in the water & leave it in the microwave to stay warm & steep while I'm getting ready for work, then I pour it over ice. It has worked really well for me. I started out using two teabags because my pop has a lot of caffeine - I was trying to match that. But after a week or two I cut back to one because I like the taste better.

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    3. Bug--Noted. It sounds simple enough. He's pretty devoted to Diet Coke, but I'll take a shot.

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  12. Not much on tea myself. If I were to have it, it's mint flavored tea.
    My mother's cure-all for when I got sick was cold 7-up. And jello. And yes even today, those two "foods" take me back!!

    So from the razor ...scarred?

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    1. Anni--Mint tea always sounds so nice to me, but when I have it, I feel like I'm drinking mouthwash. And I even use my own homegrown and dried mint!

      We didn't usually have soda of any kind in the house, so 7up was not a go-to. I would have loved that. Ditto with Jell-O. There was always an abundance of tea.

      Yes, I do have a wide scar on my shinbone, but it's not prominent. I know it's there. I really took off a big strip of skin, not knowing how hard to press down to shave. I was in eighth grade, and I was embarrassed in gym class.

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  13. Hot tea = illness for me. I tried to get into the herbal teas but just don't enjoy it. I don't drink coffee either. I am a water or seltzer drinker - that's really the only beverages I drink.

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    1. Ellen--You too? It was definitely a well-used medicinal tool back in the day. Like you, I don't like most herbal teas, either. They are weak and too grassy for me. I like coffee a great deal, but I have to drink decaf. I default to water throughout the day, and I drink a lot of it.

      I wish I could drink seltzer, but I can't drink carbonated stuff due to my migraine med. Seltzer seems like a perfect option--flavour but no artificial sweetener.

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  14. Coffee in the morning then tea in the afternoon/evening. There's an association with ritual and relaxation vs sick bed. To be honest, hot tea has replaced an evening or after dinner cocktail. I prefer a regular tea blend but do enjoy a pomegranate or lemon-ginger blend on occasion. Tea bags are preferred to loose tea although I may go back to loose tea. The bags are not quickly biodegradable like they used to be. You mentioned the sun tea in one of your comment replies. I've done that. Sweetened ice tea is a treat; the sugar content in commercial brands is formidable. I'll sometimes make a drink with fresh ginger, maple syrup, lemon and hot water.

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    1. Mona--Ooooh, I like the idea of your fresh ginger drink. I keep fresh ginger on hand always (in the freezer). Thanks for the idea.

      I can see how hot tea would be preferable to a cocktail in several ways, yet still preserve that ritual. In cold weather especially, it would be much cozier.

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  15. I didn't grow up drinking tea. My mom occasionally made sun tea, but we generally were a pop (soda/cola/whatever you call it) family. But my husband loves his tea and his morning ritual would not be complete without him making a cup for me and for him. So I have strongly positive associations with someone carefully making tea for me as part of breakfast. I generally drink a hot cinnamon spice tea with honey in it, so it feels a bit decadent every day.

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    1. NGS--We almost never had soda (I grew up calling it pop, then switched to calling it soda), only as a treat. Later, we had Pop Night once a week on Saturday, then prevailed upon our mother to include Wednesdays as a Pop Night. Iced Tea was always available, like water.

      It sounds so pleasant and sweet to have your husband prepare tea for you each and every morning. I'd have a warm and cozy association with that as well.

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  16. My father drank hot tea, black or oolong, while my mother favored hot coffee. Mom considered tea to be medicinal. For cramps she'd give teenage me hot tea with sugar and a shot of whiskey in it. Don't suppose that's allowed anymore!

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    1. Ally--A whole shot? Wow! If that didn't do anything for cramps, it at least made you feel like you didn't care that you had them. ;-)

      Hot tea as medicine must have been a commonality among that generation of mothers. Certainly the warmth was a soothing thing, and that alone was a sort of psychosomatic effect.

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  17. Glad you were able to enjoy a visit with friends and all that good food!

    That's a lot tea which you received growing up. I like tea, hot or iced, without sugar, but have drunk very little of it through the years. When we lived in locations with lots of sun I enjoyed making sun tea sometimes, but that was short-lived for me as the novelty wore off.

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    1. Joared--It was a nice break from the usual, and a great reunion with friends we've missed.

      Sun tea had its heyday, didn't it? It was such an odd trend, but I think so many people grabbed onto it. I don't hear of anyone making tea that way now--I know that it was found to be dangerous since the water doesn't boil and can be a breeding ground for bacteria. (But we managed to survive it somehow.)

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  18. Love this! I'm a Brit so I'm swimming in tea most days!.In fact, I'm sipping a cuppa as I sit writing this!
    Around My Kitchen Table

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    1. AMKT--I would make a terrible Brit with my antipathy toward Tea. Are there any Brits who don't like it, I wonder?

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  19. I grew up with a kettle of very strong tea on the stove all the time. I usually had it when I was feeling under the weather, but I can’t remember when my parents drank it. Somehow, when I reached my late teens the kettle disappeared and they mostly had green tea. I drink tea as an afternoon habit now, which I developed when I met my husband, who is from the UK. Also: my family (who is Filipino) used tea as a topical astringent for skin conditions. I distinctly remember having a tea bath when I had the chicken pox as a child, and it helped to soothe my skin. I also used it on my face as a teenager for my acne.

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    1. AdrieneJ--I wonder if your parents' switch to green tea was a conscious one for its health benefits? I probably would drink it, too, if I could stand the stuff.

      Medicinal Tea seems to be a theme, doesn't it? It seems to cross cultures and generations as well.

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  20. My family is Irish, so tea is an honored tradition for us. My daughter got married recently; I gave her (as an engagement gift) a teapot. It was the first gift I received when I got engaged all those years ago. My grandmother gave it to me; I can still remember her telling me how every Irish bride should be able to make her guests a cup of tea. I know Megan will probably never use it but it is so nice to carry on some of these traditions, I think. (I ended my marriage [thank the gods] but kept Mom-Mom's teapot!)

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Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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