Friday, April 10, 2009

Tea drinker in coffeeland

Coffeeland could be anywhere these days. Can you remember before Starbucks took over the world?

Somehow Seattle has always been a coffee town. I sold fancy coffee and pulled espresso for much of my college years at a local neighborhood shop. I drank and made a lot of coffees.

I remember regularly drinking 2 double lattes when I was working late to close up the store. Did I even sleep back then?

By the time I was shucking and jiving with all the other work a day stiffs in the city, I cued up regularly for my twice a day Grande Americano with the rest of the cities population. I even got to where I was bringing my own cup.

Yes, it is possible to love something like coffee and I do. The taste, the smell; without a doubt my favorite ice-cream: Coffee Oreo. the problem is I just can't drink coffee anymore. It's sad. It upsets my stomach and triggers, almost immediately, the reflux that I have been battling since Molly came along.

Coffee is a hard one to break and it wasn't only habit, after all. It was love. I tried to make do with herbal teas and the such but it was like a benign insult compared to a good cup of joe. I had a new baby! I needed the jolt!

Oh, praise the day I stumbled into the PCC (Puget Consumers Coop) grocery store near my house. Dazed and groggy with "lack of sleep" slowness with an infant in a front pack with , I was approached by a pleasant young woman from Paraguay who asked if I would like to try a Yerba Mate Latte with soy milk.

I must've been stunned or tired enough to say, "What the hell?" And, you know, it was quite delicious and it gave me the jolt of caffeine without the ouchy, acid tummy. I circled around and pumped this woman for more information.

What was this Mate? She spent a good bit of time telling me about the ancient art (!) of Mate drinking, the special gourds the native peoples drink it from and it's healthful benefits.

Sounds good. But, what is it:

"In South America, yerba mate has been revered for centuries as the “drink of the gods” and is drunk daily for optimum health, sustained energy and mental clarity. Of the six commonly used stimulants in the world: yerba mate, coffee, tea, kola nut, cocoa, and guarana, yerba mate triumphs as natures most balanced stimulant, delivering both energy and nutrition. The leaves of the rainforest mate tree naturally contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, abundant antioxidants. In fact, The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific society in 1964 concluded "it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value" and that yerba mate contains "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life."

Now, I mam quite "religious" about it and drink it every morning. I buy in bulk. I don't fuss with steamed soy milk but take it straight, no sugar in a very big cup. It makes nice sun tea too, add a sprig or two of mint. It's probably an acquired taste. I wouldn't say unpleasant but it's no cup of joe but it works.

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