Coffee or Tea? Both! Straight From the Heart of India!

This month’s topic on Writing Prompts is…Coffee or Tea? How fun! Not only do I enjoy both coffee and tea, I’ve been blessed to have walked through a coffee estate in Tamil Nadu, South India as well as drink Darjeeling Tea in Darjeeling (almost 1500 miles northwest of Tamil Nadu in West Bengal, India–almost to the China border).

First, let’s talk coffee.

My husband’s family owns a small coffee estate in the hill station of Yercaud in Tamil Nadu. He says his mother gave him coffee in his baby bottle!

We’ve visited the family’s coffee estate a few times and have always enjoyed the thrilling ride up to the hill station…a 22 hair pin curve drive up the mountain along narrow roads. “Locals” eye us from the roadside. 🙂

Monkeys on the roadside on the way up to the Yercaud, Tamil Nadu hill station

We even wake up to these fellows peeking in the window! Once, the day after we left Yercaud, the local news reported that a herd of elephants had blocked the road for the entire day. I was both disappointed and glad that we missed that scene.

Below are photos of our visit into the estate, a tropical mountainside paradise…

Road in to the coffee estate. We had to rent a special Jeep to get in. At one point, I got scared and asked to get out and walk.

Road into the coffee estate. We had to rent a special Jeep to get in. At one point, I got scared and asked to get out and walk alongside the slow-moving Jeep. Do you blame me?

Inside the coffee estate on a cliff that overlooks the valley. When the British ruled India, they would come away from hot Madras and relax in these fertile hill stations.

Inside the coffee estate on a cliff that overlooks the valley. When the British ruled India, they would come away from hot Madras (todays Chennai) and relax in these fertile hill stations. Yercaud is filled with lovely churches, monasteries, convents, and spirituality centers. It’s the place where my husband ran miles to and from the church every day to serve at Mass…before school…barefoot.

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Back to coffee…In Yercaud, the Catholic monks also own coffee estates.

Yercaud, Tamil Nadu. The monks own and operate several coffee plantations in Yercaud.

 

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My husband and I on the misty mountain

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Trees with black pepper plants growing up the trunks. Pepper is also grown on the coffee estates, along with oranges, jackfruit and other interesting flora and fauna.

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Coffee plants beyond the rocks

Coffee plants close up

Coffee plants close up

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Coffee!

Leaving the tropical south, let’s go north into Tea Country…

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And a 40 hour drive (about 1,600 mi) away from Tamil Nadu is Darjeeling, tea capital of the world.

And a 45 hour drive (1,557.4 mi) away from Tamil Nadu is Darjeeling, tea capital of the world. My husband and I also visited Darjeeling. Lovely tea gardens.

Lovely tea gardens of Darjeeling.

Here we are drinking Darjeeling Tea in Darjeeling in West Bengal, India.

Here we are drinking Darjeeling Tea in Darjeeling in West Bengal, India.

Driving around Darjeeling, the shops are so close to the road if you wanted to you could grab something off the shelves as you drove by

Driving around Darjeeling, the shops are so close to the road if you wanted, you could pull up and call them drive-throughs. .

Looking our from the tea shop over the city of Darjeeling.

Looking out from the tea shop over the city of Darjeeling.

Did a little shopping, too. Typical shop. We were purchasing shawls for the cooler weather.

Did a little shopping, too. Typical Darjeeling shop. We were purchasing shawls for the cooler weather.

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And then back in warm south India, in Chennai, where (coffee or tea aside) a tender coconut drink is just what you need sometimes.

Thanks for coming along with me to India. It’s such a diverse land. Every trip is unique and amazing! If we here at Writing Prompts have “wine” as a topic, I’ve got a great story about drinking wine on the shores of the roaring magnificent Arabian Ocean under the glow of a full moon. One of my favorite memories!

And if you like fiction or nonfiction stories about India, my books are full of scenes from my times and experiences in Incredible India:

1coverCrooked Lines: On the shores of Lake Michigan, Rebecca Meyer seeks escape. Guilt-ridden over her little sister’s death, she sets her heart on India, a symbol of peace. Across the ocean in South India, Sagai Raj leaves his tranquil hill station home and impoverished family to answer a higher calling. Pushing through diverse cultural and religious milieus, he labors toward his goals, while wrong turns and bad choices block Rebecca from hers. Traveling similar paths and bridged across oceans through a priest, the two desire peace and their divine destiny. But vows and blind obedience at all costs must be weighed…and buried memories, unearthed. Crooked Lines, a beautifully crafted debut novel, threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. Compelling characters struggle with spirituality through despair and deceptions in search of truth.

Beautiful beach and seaTsunami 2004 – Still Wading Through Waves of Hope – December 26th, 2014 marked the anniversary of the monster waves seen around the world. Is life restored back to normal on the shores of Nagapattinam, South India? Will it ever be? Like a sweeping wave, news of the tsunami fundraiser spread to a national level. Bishop Leo Michael became the ideal vehicle to collect, then ferry aid across the sea. He had lived and worked in the now tsunami devastated region for many years, spoke the native language, and had a counseling degree. TEN days later, trekking into impassable villages and decimated shorelines, the Michaels helped the widows and the orphans and those most affected by the tsunami.  TEN years later, the Michaels returned to the same villages and encountered surprising changes and a life-threatening situation.

Writing prompt: Write a few paragraphs about drinking your favorite beverage in a place in the world you would most like to visit or have visited. What emotions did you feel at the time?

104 (2)Holly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children; a lovely daughter Betsy and football-playing sons—Jake (NFL) and Nick (University of Louisiana-Lafayette). Kansas City, Missouri is home and she blogs at www.writingstraight.com

Contact her at www.HollyMichael.com or on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/AuthorHollyMichael or Twitter: @HollyMichael

 

My Dilemma – Coffee or Tea?

By Betty Boyd

file6981245263150I love both coffee and tea. Which one do I prefer? The smell of brewing coffee is so alluring, I just want to drink the whole pot. I first started drinking coffee as a teenager. The typical brew in those days was very bland, so I piled on the sugar and cream to make it taste better. Alas, it still lacked something, but I needed my cup of Joe, so I just tolerated it.

Much to my delight, the varieties of coffee now available are overwhelming. For example, once upon a time, the only way I could get coffee from Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc., was to stop by and get it inside the store. Today, I can go to my local grocery store and purchase it directly for my consumption.

DSC_7579Another wonderful predicament is the ever-expanding number of coffee houses and bistros that are there for the tasting. I’m glad coffee comes in organic blends, and that I only have to add a touch of almond milk to really enjoy its taste (no sugar required).

file000204294989But I can’t overlook the explosion of the tea industry. Orange Pekoe was the only tea around when I was first introduced to tea. My mother would make up real sweet iced tea during the summer months, and it was delicious. For me, gone are the days of Orange Pekoe. I now enjoy chocolate, ginger, and green teas among others.

The list of coffees and teas goes on and on. I have my favorite brands, tastes, and types of coffee and tea. Coffee does win out over tea, with me, but only slightly. The health benefits of both have been researched. I want to take full advantage.

So whether it is coffee or tea, I know I will be getting a wonderful experience and there will be future varieties available for me to partake.

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Can you write a story about coffee or tea that includes these four items?

  • Tea bag
  • Coffee cup
  • Sugar
  • Flavors

Jitter Bug In A Cup

Tammy

 

If September’s topic of Football wasn’t a stretch for me, October’s topic surely will be. Just kidding. Coffee or Tea? For a number of years I didn’t like either one. My father was a hard core coffee drinker. Folgers being his main choice as I recall. My mother would drink it once in a great while when she had a sweet to dunk. She preferred it very doctored with sugar and milk. My husband is a coffee drinker also, I love the smell. The aroma fills the house and makes it warm and cozy.

My only exposure to tea as a child was the story during the Revolutionary war when some Patriots threw it overboard from a ship in Boston. As far as I was concerned, it was good riddance. Who would drink that stuff anyway?

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I had never tried tea until I was invited to a High Tea many years ago. I didn’t have a clue as to how to maneuver all the offerings for tea. I asked an older woman who seemed to know what she was doing, and I have to say I did enjoy one cup. Then I learned there were different kinds of tea. I tried African tea, it was very good. Then I moved on to Darjeeling, with a little cream and sugar it was perfection.

This time of year, Celestial Seasons brings out seasonal flavored teas that I really like. One is Pumpkin Spice, very good with cream and sugar. Tastes just like drinking a piece of pumpkin pie. During the Christmas holiday, they have a Sugar Plum Spice, it’s very good. Wild Berry Zinger tea is refreshing served as an iced tea.

I have also learned that brewing tea is just as important as how you drink it. Different kinds of tea are prepared in their own way to get the best flavor and benefits. White and Green teas are steeped just before the water begins to boil as to not cook the tender tea leaves. How long you should steep it is also a factor. White tea only 30 to 60 seconds. Green tea for 1 to 3 minutes. Black and Oolong steep well in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Red and Herbal teas should steep for 5 to 7 minutes, also in boiling water.

When I used to host Bible studies in my home on Saturday mornings, I would make tea and serve it in a tea pot, with matching cups and saucers. I served some sweet pastry, too. I learned that making it in a tea pot also has proper instructions. I found that you needed to prime the pot first by pouring plain boiling water in. This warms the pot before you steep your tea in it.

Willow Tea Set

Then I was invited to a morning coffee with one of my favorite people of all time. Being a tea drinker I didn’t want to make a fuss, so I drank a cup of coffee with sugar and cream. It was FANTASTIC!! I had two cups. I learned that day that coffee is just as much an acquired taste as tea. And it comes in so many flavors. Now I know you’re wondering if I had never heard of Starbucks. Of course I had, but I always ordered a hot Chai tea. My favorite coffee habit is a Guatemalan blend. I want to try others, but this is the one I am currently savoring. For me the consensus is…that I like both!

 

What kind of coffee or tea do you drink?

Coffee or Tea? Yes, please!

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by Cari Schaeffer

I like both coffee and tea, actually. I lean more toward coffee than tea, but both have a place in my heart and on my tongue.

More than half of U.S. adults drink coffee every day — are you one of them? I am! I drink two cups every morning and sometimes one in the afternoon. I have not, however, jumped on the “pod” wagon. I prefer to brew my coffee the old-fashioned way because I like to mix and match the coffee I drink. For a pot of coffee – not just for me, mind you! – I will place two heaping tablespoons of the fully leaded stuff with four heaping tablespoons of decaf. I cannot drink regular coffee. If I do, I will end up cleaning my baseboards (and your baseboards) with a toothbrush after power-washing my house! I also like my coffee strong and full of flavor. That’s why I mound my tablespoons.

Here are some interesting little factoids about coffee:

  • Coffee beans contain antioxidants called quinines, which become more potent after the beans are roasted.
  • Magnesium is naturally found in coffee.
  • Drinking four cups of coffee a day is linked with a lower risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
  • Coffee could help prevent dental caries because it contains an antibacterial compound called trigonelline. You still have to brush your teeth, however.

20151001_123616I am also strange (in many ways, but let us stay focused here) because I rarely buy a cup of coffee. I like to make my own at home and drink it in my favorite coffee cup. Note the caption on it – it’s one of my favorite Bible verses and an awesome way to start my day. Personally, I drink and eat nothing out of Styrofoam. It releases chemicals into whatever hot liquid you’re drinking and they are harmful. Plus paper/cardboard cups alter the taste of coffee and my taste buds don’t appreciate that.

As far as tea goes, I like it hot or iced. Although my family roots are in the South, I prefer my tea unsweetened. Whoa – did you feel a shift in the Force when I said that? I think I did… My Southern family won’t be happy with my sacrilege against sweet tea, but I have to be true to myself.

Be sure the next time you drink a cup of tea that it is actually tea if you want to get the health benefits. Real tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else, such as herbal tea, is an infusion of a different type of plant and therefore isn’t technically a tea at all. But if you enjoy it, do the technicalities really matter?

There are some wonderful health benefits to drinking tea. Tea contains polyphenols – a type of antioxidant – and phytochemicals. Most studies have focused on the more prevalent and well-known green and black teas, but white and oolong have health benefits, as well.

Here are some great benefits to be found in tea:

  • Drinking tea could help reduce the risk of heart attack and help protect against cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
  • The antioxidants in tea might help protect against a variety of cancers including breast, colon, colorectal, skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, ovarian, prostate and oral cancers. This must be balanced with the fact that tea is NOT a miracle cure (notice I said “might help protect against”, not “treat”), but simply a component of a healthy, well-balanced diet and lifestyle.
  • Tea has significantly less caffeine than coffee and can therefore provide greater hydration properties.
  • Tea could be beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that compounds in green tea may help diabetics better process the sugar they consume.
  • Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength.

20151001_124657Aside from the health benefits that keep pouring forth regarding coffee or tea, I strongly believe there is a health benefit to be had from sharing a hot cup of coffee or tea with a friend or group of friends. The great thing about a hot beverage is that it cannot be gulped. Therefore the experience can’t be hurried. It is meant to be sipped, savored, and enjoyed. Just like my friendships. The time I spend with friends is meant to be savored, enjoyed, and long. It’s fun to schedule a proper English tea complete with home-made scones, delicate sandwiches, and bite-sized sweets. I have done it several times and enjoy it immensely.

When a friend is going through a rough time or has some exciting news, they will inevitably say, “Let’s get a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you all about it.” There have been some amazing conversations that have swirled in the steam above a cup of coffee or tea. If only my cups could talk, oh the things they would say…

3D-EBook Hello and Goodbye small3D-EBook-FaithHopeLoveandChocolate smallCari Schaeffer can be found at www.carischaeffer.com  She has two novels currently available – Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate and Hello and Goodbye: Volume One: The Yellow Ribbon Chronicles. Both are available as e-books and paperbacks.

 

 

The Great Debate

cup-of-coffee-coffee-17731301-1680-1050By Jennifer Hallmark

Hello, all! This month on the Writing Prompts blog, we’re putting our two cents into the great debate. No, not the Presidential debate. The other one that has been around for as long as I can remember. Tea or coffee? Join us every Monday and Friday as we put our spin on these delectable beverages.

My beverage of choice is tea, hot, warm or cold, with milk or without. At Starbucks, I usually order an English breakfast tea latte with soy milk and a shot of vanilla. At home, hot decaf tea with honey hits the spot every time. And in the South, who doesn’t like sweet tea?hot tea

What a great day it was when I also learned that tea is healthy for me. Tea is full of flavonoids and has antimicrobial qualities. Who knew? According to WebMD:

  • Green tea has a high concentration of ECGC, which help against cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.
  • Black tea (my favorite) has the highest concentration of caffeine and may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Oolong tea has been found to reduce bad cholesterol levels.
  • Pu-erh tea can help with weight loss and lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Herbal teas also have benefits.

  • Chamomile tea can help reduce complications from diabetes and stunt the growth of cancer cells.
  • Echinacea fights the common cold.
  • Hibiscus can lower blood pressure.
  • Rooibos (red tea) has cancer-fighting qualities.sweet tea

Of course, you want to limit the sugar and any milk or creamers to increase the health
benefits. So whether you like a nice cup of Chamomile tea before bed or a large glass of iced sweet tea with your lunch, tea is good and good for you. So as we say in the South: Give me a sweet tea with a slice of lemon.

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt: Jan pushed her key into the door, unlocking it and glanced once over her shoulder. She hated opening the Java Hut so early in the morning while darkness still covered the ill-lit area. She shut the door quickly behind her and reached for the light switch. Nothing happened. Suddenly…