Tea-totaler, by Kirstin Odegaard

Tea-totaler, by Kirstin Odegaard

Last month, I wrote about tea + Jane.  (Click here to revisit that post.)  This month, I’m sharing an article I wrote for my local newspaper about tea + me.  It’s from my collection-of-articles-book that’s not actually a book because, well, I’ve never compiled them into a book.  But I sometimes think really hard about doing it, and that’s half the battle.  Maybe a little less than half.  Like a third.  Whatever fraction zero rounds up to, that’s where I am.  Enjoy!


I love a strong, hot cup of tea.  Usually I fill my pot throughout the day and sip the warm goodness continually, but one day, after about 10 years of doing this, I had the dark thought that maybe I drink too much tea.  A quick Google search revealed the recommended limit is 3-4 cups a day.  I calculated what I drink, and it’s a touch more, at 12 cups.

So I put myself on a tea diet and cut back to six cups a day—a fifty percent reduction from what I was drinking!  I was impressed with myself, until my husband Andy pointed out that a cup is an actual unit of measurement, not just whatever huge mug I pull out of the cupboard and fill to the brim.  Rude.

I’d been slogging through my tea diet for several weeks when Andy asked why I’d cut back at all.  Isn’t tea good for you?  I should just go back to unrestrained drinking.

And I thought, I love Andy!

But then he pulled out his phone and looked it up.  “Oh, too much tea reduces iron absorption,” he said.  “It also causes insomnia.  And anxiety.  You were drinking 12 cups a day?!  What were you thinking?  That’s insane!”

I mean, I wasn’t thinking.  And not thinking was blissful.

“How much are you drinking now?” Andy asked, suddenly a little too interested in my tea diet.

“Well!” I said.  “That’s a funny story!  I thought I was drinking six cups a day.  But I switched tea pots, and I just measured again, and—this is crazy—but the new teapot actually holds 3 cups, not 2, and I refill it 3 times a day.”

Andy didn’t think it was a funny story.  “So you’re drinking 9 cups.”

“Yes,” I said, “but I thought I’d cut back to 6 cups, and that’s what’s important.”

“It’s not, though.  You’re drinking too much.”

I saw we’d gotten off track, so I tried to gently steer the conversation back to that place where I was allowed to do whatever I wanted.  But I was never able to find that place back.

Now I’m on back on the tea diet, but it’s worse this time because six cups is actually six cups.

“I’m so thirsty,” I said.  “My throat is like the Sahara Desert.”

“So drink water,” Andy said.

Honestly.  He’s like my grandma, telling me to swallow spit.

And what about when summer comes?  Iced tea doesn’t count, right, because it’s iced?  And those Tejava bottles are so obviously one serving.

“Why wouldn’t iced tea count?” Andy asked.

I carefully explained again that it’s iced, but that Berkeley engineering degree was clearly a waste because he just didn’t get it.  He’s a bit of a trophy husband, but I love him anyway.

The thing is that life already has so many restrictions.  I stay away from meat.  I try not to eat too much sugar.  I avoid preservatives.  I don’t snort cocaine or kick small puppies or storm the Capitol in Viking garb.  I just want to drink my tea.  Twelve cups of it.  That I say is six.


Your turn!  What’s your favorite vice?  Besides tea, I also like Swedish fish.  Oh, red dye no. 40, you are my bestie!  (Don’t tell Andy.  He has some wild theory that chemical dyes are bad for you.  So judgy.)

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Mr. T
Mr. T
May 26, 2022 1:50 AM

I have always loved a warm glass of chai and any quality dark chocolate. My latest craving is boba tea. Yes- I enjoy both the sugary yumminess and the tapioca treats. Is that sacrilegious?

Linda A.
Linda A.
May 20, 2022 2:34 PM

I agree – Lindt chocolate! 85% cocoa. I cut out processed foods and desserts two years ago – except for the chocolate. And tawny port. I think the port is my new vice. I tell myself I get my sugar “fix” along with the benefits of red wine from it. 😉

May 20, 2022 11:34 AM

You’d probably guess my background from my tea choice but green tea all the way – cold, lukewarm or hot – especially what we call “popcorn” tea! A pot of hot tea was served with every meal or occasion while I was growing up, no matter the season!

J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
May 20, 2022 10:45 AM

Oh, my goodness. That was hilarious. First, you MUST compile these shorts. I mean, seriously, they are hilarious. I think we’ve had this conversation before. However, that can be a project for future consideration. Just keep compiling them so you have easy access to them and you’ll have less work gathering them later.

Now back to the discussion of tea. I’m from the south [not deep south] where we enjoy sweet tea in any form but especially iced. It’s hot in the summer, you know. You soon learn where the line is for restaurants serving sweet tea. It’s not always the Mason-Dixon Line. On a shopping trip, I discovered that one hour north of my house they don’t serve sweet tea. They have sugar on the table and you can sweeten your tea if you wish. I thought everyone, from babies on up, knew that you can’t sweeten iced tea in the glass. It needs to be warm. At one restaurant our server apologized for not having iced sweet tea. He then leaned in and told us he was from Georgia and would make us a pitcher of tea. Oh-My-Stars, that was the best tea I had ever had. Needless to say, he was blessed mightily in tips.

Back in the day, when I needed to clean the house, I’d make a pitcher of iced tea and drink it while I did my chores. It put a pep in my step and kept me going throughout the day. When I was younger, I was hooked on RC Cola. Unfortunately, my GYN told me I needed to avoid the dark cola varieties as they gave me female problems [sorry, TMI]. Sprite and 7-up just didn’t get it. I drank Mello-yellow for a while but it had a metallic aftertaste. I then went to Mt. Dew. Now THAT is my go-to drink when I need an uplift. Yep, that will put a pep in your step. Funny note, but maybe not… I was at the doctor and they had put a monitor on me. Unfortunately, I had just had my lunch with Mt. Dew as my drink of choice. It made an impression on the monitor. Oops! Perhaps, I need to cut back on my Mt. Dew. Drat!

Riana Everly
May 20, 2022 8:26 AM

You would get on very well with my son. In the winter, especially, he always has a pot of tea on the go. Black tea, herbal tea, smoked tea… all sorts of tea. In summer, we do a big batch of iced tea every few days too.
I enjoy black tea of various types (vanilla Earl Grey, chai, orange pekoe, etc), but I’m not so obsessed. My usual recipe is 1) boil kettle. 2) forget about kettle and reboil kettle half an hour later. 3) pour water over teabag. 4) forget about tea. 5) come back 45 minutes later to very strong, cold tea. 6) nuke tea and add lots of sugar and milk.
My real food obsessions are chocolate and cheese. I almost went vegan once, but I couldn’t give up cheese. Now I get anxious if I have fewer than three different types of cheese in the fridge. Six is better.
Enjoy your tea. Would you like a recipe for scones? 😉

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
May 20, 2022 8:05 AM

My vice would be chocolate! I love it! I do like tea as well but I could never drink sixcups!lol

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