Are you one of those for whom the choice of which hot beverage to drink poses a dilemma? For committed coffee lovers or their tea-lovin’ counterparts, it’s probably a no-brainer. But for the fence-sitters among us, James Russell Bailey has written an in-depth discussion of the philosophical issues involved with both coffee and tea-drinking. The choice involves several criteria: Which choices are available, the way the day/hours/week have gone, the production process, and the amount of time available for the cup’s enjoyment. When it comes to production, tea has usually been simpler, but now the single serve coffees have nullified that issue. The next issue is more complex, as it’s one of philosophy. Bailey feels that coffee is more individual-centric and tea, especially Lapsang Souchong tea, is more suited for drinking while contemplating the fate of the universe. In the end, Bailey ends up in a circular argument, as the bottom of the cup determines the choice but first one has to fill the cup with coffee or tea. It seems that the real deciding factor might be the taste one is craving at the moment, since there is an ocean of difference between the taste of coffee and tea. In this regard, there are coffee drinkers who might choose tea if not feeling well, as coffee is often too acidic, and tea is calming to the stomach. As far as the tone of the day, it’s highly subjective as to which one chooses if the day went poor or went well. Do we mourn with one and celebrate with the other? Or mourn with the other and celebrate with the one? Coffee or tea? Bailey fails to mention that both have their signature aromas. Do the different aromas bring out different moods? After all, there are chemicals that turn different colors upon exposure to burned or spoiled batches of coffee. Coffee aromas are definitely mood lifters, unless burned of course. Tea has been used for years to calm stressfulness. Both tea and coffee can provide energy and brain charging through caffeine. So in the end, it all comes down to a subliminal favoritism that is probably not explainable, just as Bailey concludes. Reading the tea leaves or coffee grounds in the cup is just as helpful as listing pros and cons. So whichever you choose, enjoy the pleasure. Brew/steep on.
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