BEAST FROM THE EAST faces THE BROWN BOMBER
Round One: Halcyon days of my youth. I drink apple juice in the AM. My dad drinks coffee; my mom drinks tea. Coffee makes a Dad-like, church-like smell. Tea makes a dark cabinet, autumn rustle smell. Coffee appears in Dad’s cup and on Dad’s breath. Tea comes from a kettle on the stove that whistles, and then something you dunk in it. Coffee is for boys; tea is for girls. Coffee is for business; tea is for life.
Judges say: Tea by a reasonable margin.
Round Two: Age 12ish, I spend a little time down south. Am asked at every meal, “Tea?” My dad has to specially request “Yankee tea.” This type of tea tastes like the kool-aid without the delightful reddy flavoring that is not precisely “strawberry” or any other “fruit.”
Judges say: Coffee, due to tea’s exceptionally poor showing, and early cultural isolation of the judge.
Round Three: After swing dancing for hours, I have a busted big toe, and I smell like the beer that has been spilled on me, but my swishy red dress still looks great. Let’s walk down the street and hang out a little longer. Order a mocha, I am told by boy I danced with who was dancing trained in an Austrian year abroad. You’ll love it.
Judges say: Coffee. I do love it, partner!
Round Four: Overseas in a Muslim, formerly British-controlled area. Tea all the way. I am treated to high tea at the Ritz-Carleton. They have real, single-use cloth towels in the bathroom. All the chandeliers you can eat, and floors more fit for eating off than any surface I’ve yet encountered. I will have tea with milk. All the finest varieties. Pert sandwiches, tarts, and other delicacies still in their infancy, from the looks of them. I would love to love you, tea.
Judges say: Coffee. After such an impassioned rally on the part of tea, it is a crushing blow.
Round Five: In Rome. Although some people keep raving about food I will eat in Italy, foodies tell me Rome is a culinary cesspool. I am committed to cappuccino and red wine at every meal, regardless. I’m on vacation. First Roman lunch, at a place that bears a sneaky resemblance to a Jersey diner, first sip of first Italian cappuccino. Ten minutes later, as my senses return to normal, I realize that in eight days I will have my last Italian cappuccino. That will be devastating. Such are the strange workings of the human mind.
Judges say: Coffee reaches deep down and brings out his best, which does not disappoint.
The final verdict: Had coffee not spent so much time in church basement styrofoam cups (ew), it might have made a better showing early on. The ugliness of the suburban-issue drip coffeemaker, so unimpressive it did not even register, also left room for tea to get some momentum.
The early exposure of cold tea, much preceding the appearance of cold coffee, may have dragged tea down too early. Cold drinks, other than milkshakes and martinis, just don’t grab this long-limbed, easily chilled judge.
At least tea knows all the stops were pulled, and the entire force of the British empire was called in. Tea can’t have any regrets.
Still, it’s coffee by a strong margin. Coffee all the way. Central American, cowboy, Folgers, beatnik, Seattle, up all night, free refill coffee.