Since I was little, my older sister would parrot the same refrains about my ineptitude around the kitchen. She implored my mother - her sole audience at the time - to never let me hold a knife lest I chop my fingers instead of the carrots. Admittedly this did happen once, but I had no idea the warnings would follow me through boyhood, into adolescence, and finally as a grown adult.
As recently as January during one of her famed Sunday brunches, the moment I stepped into the kitchen to say hello she announced to her now much larger audience to have the phone ready for a call to the fire department. Even her husband, a sweet man by all accounts, couldn’t hold back in the chorus of laughter.
So I visited her home last month armed with a mission and a tin of Teamonk’s Orange Green Tea. When she went to put the kids to bed that first night, I took my chance. I tiptoed past the twins’ closed door and made straight for that most verboten of rooms. I boiled a large pot of water on the stove, a skill which I have honed over the years. Once the water had a few minutes to cool, I poured it into the kettle over three heaped teaspoons of Orange Green Tea.
I anxiously paced the room for the three minutes while I waited for the tea to steep. The sweet citrus fragrance wafted through the kitchen and pleasantly into my nose. Neurotic as I am though, I sprayed a healthy dose of vanilla air freshener to cover any aromatic trail. I then strained the tea into a pitcher and stowed it behind a seemingly neglected box of leftovers. I exited the kitchen, re-tiptoed my way past the twins’ room, and closed my bedroom door with tremendous self-pride.
The next day during lunch, little beads of sweat on our foreheads provided an unfortunate reminder of the overhead fan not working. We had just finished lunch and droopy eyelids indicated that the post-food coma initiation was already underway. No one noticed as I excused myself from the table, opened the fridge and removed the perfectly chilled Orange Green Tea. I plopped some ice cubes into glasses and took the pitcher along with the glasses back into the dining room. I sauntered my way to the dining room and chirped, “Who wants tea?”
I poured the chilled Orange Green Tea over ice and served it to the whole family. The tea was greedily consumed in minutes. Wegulped it down faster than the condensation could trickle down the glass. The iced tea stimulated the senses and gave us just the cool pick-up we needed on that torrid afternoon.
And with that delightfully simple afternoon tea, my sister declared to all that I was now granted access to the kitchen anytime – as long as I focused on making tea only.