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Over a cup of tea

It started off as a mere fad. My extended family has contributed generously towards making India the diabetes capital of the world and continues to do so with a missionary zeal. Somehow, I was overcome with the desire to break free from this herd.

As a small token, I decided to forgo sugar for my morning tea, but maintain the status quo for the brew at other times and all my other insulin-hostile indulgences such as sweets, cakes and ice-creams.

I knew it was not an easy decision. I had on some occasions accidentally sipped the sugarless tea meant for my father, only to recoil at its dour taste and reach for the sugar jar. Hence the sceptic in me felt that a week will be the maximum I will stick to my new fitness goal.

On day one, I was sipping my morning cuppa as if it were one of those kashayams (Ayurvedic formulations). I was also reminded of those leafy herbal remedies I had taken while I was down with jaundice during my school days.

That was also probably the longest duration I took to finish my morning tea with my tongue and palate revolting against this “tasteless” brew. And the sceptic in me savoured his “I told you so” sneer.

But I did not give up. I soldiered on for a few more days, barring occasional relapses more due to absent-mindedness than any mellowing of intent. Soon the morning cuppa sans sugar began to appear a bit more bearable, and my tongue and palate seemed more reconciled to the new fare.

Gradually, I discovered that sugarless tea had its own taste and began to appreciate what tea connoisseurs have been saying all along: Tea is meant to be bitter like beer; it should be enjoyed without sugar; and it is an acquired taste.

They look down upon those adding sugar and warn that they destroy the taste of tea and instead taste mere sugar. However, it carries little conviction among the hoi polloi.

Now more than a decade later, I have been following this routine, barring while travelling. In fact, now mornings look tasteless if the first tea of the day has sugar in it.

shajilkumark@gmail.com


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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 12:03:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/over-a-cup-of-tea/article34737916.ece

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