Are you a coffee or a tea drinker? My sister and I look alike and are very close in age. But I am a coffee drinker, and she likes tea. Our chosen beverages fit our personalities. I am a bull in a china shop: loud, fast-talking, opinionated. My sister is more methodical and thoughtful. She takes her time. This is the way I think of the two iconic drinks, coffee and tea.
Coffee is the fuel that gets you going. Without my morning coffee, I am still in the groggy cobwebs of sleep. After downing my first cup in the morning, I’m off to the races. Everywhere I go, I see people with their to-go cups of coffee. It’s the kind of beverage you drink on the run. It’s also the indispensable accessory on the office desk. Coffee is strong, bitter, and powerful.
Tea, on the other hand, is subtle and aromatic, almost like fine perfume. It’s meant to be sipped during quiet times or shared in an intimate moment with friends or family. It seems dignified and civilized, maybe because it’s the drink of choice for the British. A paper to-go cup of tea just doesn’t compute.
According to Pew Research Center, tea is preferred to coffee worldwide by a ratio of about 3 to 1. Some of the most populous countries, after all, favor tea. Asian countries such as China and Japan even have special ceremonies surrounding tea. And in Great Britain, many denizens take a break in the late afternoon for tea, which consists not only of the beverage itself but also a light snack. High tea in a swanky hotel is on my list of the most delightful experiences, mostly because of the scones with clotted cream and dainty pastries, as well as the sheer luxury implied by sitting around doing nothing but eat, sip, and chat.
Yet coffee is my drink. As a child, I always loved the smell I woke up to in the morning as my mom percolated coffee on the kitchen stove. I have even taken up my mom’s daily habit: her 2 o’clock coffee. Coffee has gotten me through many a late night studying in college. In America, coffee is far and away the more preferred hot beverage to tea. It is, after all, the birthplace of the ubiquitous Starbucks. And coffee gives a buzz that matches the fast pace of American life.
So when you reach for a hot beverage, which will it be: coffee or tea? The answer might give you a clue to who you are, or who you wish to be.