I like iced tea. In fact, other than water and a couple of different fruit juices mixed with water, iced tea is all I drink.
Occasionally I brew it myself from tea bags and then add ice.
Okay, truth? By “occasionally”, I mean maybe twice a year…but I have honorable intentions. When I was a kid my mom used to sometimes make iced tea by boiling water in the microwave in a 4-cup, glass Pyrex measuring cup and then steeping flavored tea bags in it. Bigelow. Cinnamon Stick, Plantation Mint, and my favorite, Constant Comment. She’d store it in the refrigerator and we would spend the next day or so filling a tall glass of ice half with the brewed tea of the day and half with water. It was delicious.
Now in my own internal struggle of nostalgia and laziness, boxes of those same three teas sit patiently in my kitchen while most days I reach for the quick, easy solution.
I keep on hand a plentiful supply of a pre-brewed tea from the store. It comes the way I enjoy it, just pure brewed tea and water – no sugar or sweeteners – and it’s delicious…but expensive and not very fun.
My cabinet also boasts a jar of that stalwart staple, instant tea. The heavy glass bottle of powdered gold we grew up with in a time before everything was “artisanal”. When the world was content to stir up a glass of Tang Instant Breakfast Drink in the morning and a mug of Instant Folger’s Coffee Crystals after dinner. Instant tea is cost-effective and quick…but not very flavorful.
That’s where another packaged crystal shines – crystallized lemon and lime. “For Water, Tea, and Recipes”, the package says. Well, it actually says, “For Water, Tea & Recipes”, but as a devotee of the Oxford Comma, I couldn’t help adding my editorial opinion. Real lemons and limes crystallized into packets of powder I can take with me anywhere. Quite the world we live in, ladies and gentlemen. Quite the world.
I imagine, “Quite the world” was the least of the cries of astonishment the day Mr. Spoon Inventor revealed his long-handled world changer. Solving the awkward dilemma of “I want to stir this drink, but the glass is so tall and this spoon is so short” with the invention of the iced tea spoon.
A few weeks ago I went rummaging through my box of cutlery that I had rotated out of regular use, hoping to infuse new life into my day to day knives, forks, and spoons. I found three iced tea spoons from the pattern we used when I was young.
Iced tea spoons? What a fantastic idea!
I washed them and put them into a drawer along with a newly discovered slotted spoon of the same pattern and a vintage, flat, sturdy spoon my mom used to dig into solid cartons of ice cream with when our regular scoop wasn’t clean.
And there they sat. For weeks.
I poured packets of lemon and lime into glass after glass of iced tea. I made instant tea. Time and again I watched as the powder floated down and around, filtering into swirls like dregs in the ocean. Then I picked up the glass and haphazardly tilted and swirled and jostled it about, only halfheartedly incorporating powder into liquid, thinking, “I don’t need to waste an iced tea spoon on this.”
Until one day I virtually heard the voice of Mr. Spoon Inventor sputtering in my head, “USE THE ICED TEA SPOON! For the love of sweet mercy, woman! That’s what I invented it for!”
I stopped right there in the kitchen, staring at my glass, scolding myself. What was I waiting for? I rarely entertain royalty. And should the situation arise, I assume I will have run the dishwasher ahead of Her Majesty’s arrival, thus assuring a fresh supply of clean spoons.
I am worthy of an iced tea spoon! My day to day living is important enough to warrant specialized, task-appropriate cutlery.
Why am I always moving so fast? To what end? To get to a crappily mixed glass of tea? A second of time saved for a sub-par beverage? I’ll be washing dishes anyway, what’s an extra spoon?
I thought back to my youth.
When I ate a noon meal with my dad’s family at my grandparents’ farm, my grandma took the sliced bread out of the bag, placed it on a serving plate, and we passed it around the table just like the bowl of mashed potatoes.
When I ate a meal with my mom’s side, not just a fancy holiday meal, but an ordinary Wednesday night meal with just me, my mom, and my grandparents, at their house, everything was in a proper serving bowl. Were we going to have jam to slather on something? Well, no need to put the jar on the table. Spoon some out into a tiny dish with an accompanying serving spoon for everyone to pass around. Tasked with loading the Baby Gherkins from jar to serving platter? “Oh, Honey, don’t use a regular fork. Use the pickle fork. It’ll reach into the jar better.”
Yes, the exotic distant long-handled cousin of the iced tea spoon, the pickle fork, was in regular use at my grandparents’ residence.
For a brief moment I was wistful at the recollection for the days of the pickle fork.
Until I realized, THE TIME OF THE PICKLE FORK CAN BE TODAY, MY FRIENDS!
Every day life is important enough for pickle forks and iced tea spoons and favorite shirts.
Stop waiting for the right moment to use things, or saving things so you don’t use them up. Life is meant to be enjoyed every day, not just on special occasions.
Put the drive-thru food on actual dinner plates, wear your favorite perfume to the grocery store, hang the new framed picture you bought up now, even if you can’t decide the best place for it – you can always move it later.
I’ll try my best to do the same. I’ll try to stop saving things for the perfect moment and start living each day as the perfect moment that it is.
I’ll try to slow down and make time on the weekends to brew a batch of Constant Comment for the refrigerator. But I promise, “for the love of sweet mercy!”, if I make instant, I’ll use the iced tea spoon!