Sunday, May 15, 2005

Chamomile tea

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For the past month or so, I've been clipping and drying the flowers from the chamomile plant in my garden. The yield wasn't that high, and this morning I finally had what looked like enough to make a cup of tea.

I always try to eat mindfully--although I'm not saying that I always do. But usually, at some point in a meal, I try to slow down and focus on all of the different factors involved in my food getting on my plate--where it was grown, what it needed to grow, and the various people involved. Doing things like planting, watering, weeding, pruning, and collecting these eraser-head sized yellow flowers for a month helped to keep me mindful.

I think the first time I had chamomile tea was when I was five, while staying in a hotel in Antigua, Guatemala. My parents and I would have breakfast each morning on a small stone patio that overlooked a rugged garden teeming with blue and green hummingbirds. The smell of the tea doesn't remind me of that every time, but this time it did. (For more on the Proustian angle, have a look at this.)

As usual, mindfulness gave way to digression for a moment there. Anyway, I brewed the dried flowers in my French press for several minutes, snapping photos and enjoying the smell. That aroma, I soon learned, belied the taste of the tea, which I immediately recognized as the taste that lingers on one's palate after licking an envelope. Repeated sipping confirmed this.

That said, and with space in the garden at such a premium, I just don't think there's a place for that chamomile anymore. Perhaps it would be more comfortable in the compost bin.


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