I’m fortunate to live in an area of Atlanta that has a different international market on every corner. This opens up a variety of options to me as far as bizarre snacks, questionable ingredients and general experimentation. And I do love experimentation.
While we enjoy the cheap meats, hard-to-find ingredients and overall selection at the markets, one of our favorite things to do is to buy something strange-looking and just try it. You never know when you’ll find that one thing that you didn’t know you loved yet and can’t live without. Personally, I tend to focus on drinks. You can tell a lot about a culture by looking at what they drink.
For example, people in Taiwan like things that taste gross. I’m not making this up. If you are lucky (?) enough to try a delicious (?), freshly chilled can of Mong Lee Shang’s Pearl Soybean Drink (with tapioca ball) in Mung Bean Flavor, you’ll agree that the Taiwanese sure do drink things that taste like mung bean. Ahh…tastes like cultural enlightenment to me!
I have to be honest; I’m not a big coffee drinker. I do love it, but usually only if it’s really cold outside, or I’m getting up unnaturally early (before noon, for example). It’s just not a drink that’s worked its way into my normal routine.
So what does a wayward, coffee-less person such as myself choose to drink for my daily drink? Tea. I love it. In a very real and meaningful way. It’s true that tea doesn’t have the same amount of caffeine as coffee, but for a lot of people it’s still the pick-me-up of choice.
There are a few reasons for this. First, there’s a kind of ritual to tea that separates tea time from the rest of your day. The prep time lets you take a few minutes out from your hectic life to steep your tea and anticipate the drink. Second, there are so many varieties and flavors available in tea (and I’ll get back to that in a bit). Third, there are just times when you don’t need the caffeine equivalent of rocket fuel to get going. Sometimes you just need a little tweak. Tea has a lot of caffeine levels, depending on which type you choose.