(by Fiona Winch)
Some may say eight spoonfuls of sugar is too much. Some may say it can cause cavities, or that the crash from the rush won’t make the caffeine worth it. But in our house, sugar is no devil. My mom and I share a sweet tooth, a strong one that causes us both to suffer from CMS — Cookie Monster Syndrome. I blame her for this genetic inheritance, but I am grateful to have someone with whom to suffer through it. Treatment is optional, but side effects can include hating your life.
Eight spoonfuls with milk, please. (Are you cringing?) But that’s how my mother and I both drank our black Irish tea—to start. Some years ago, we weaned ourselves down to three. She introduced me to Barry’s Irish tea in the summer of 2011 while visiting cousins in Ireland. I was only 14 when I fell in love with Barry, but our bond was strong.
Throughout any fight, any heartbreak, or major transition, I knew my mom was thinking about me when she brought Barry’s tea and three chocolate chip cookies to my bedroom. They go well together, and my mom happens to make the Nestle's Toll House recipe better than anybody else. It's a magic touch. Teatime is still something my mom and I share. If both of us are home, you know we’re using the big teapot.
Every morning throughout high school, college, and adult life, Barry has been a consistent reason to wake up. Who knew being set up by your mother could actually work out? But one bright and cold morning in October of 2013, Barry left me. I remember it like it was yesterday. I reluctantly rolled out of bed, put on my khaki skirt, blue polo and Sperry’s, fought over the bathroom with my brother, ate my dad’s special chocolate chip pancake (sweet tooth), grabbed my to-go cup, and drove to school. I was too far from home when I realized something had gone horribly wrong. The substance in my cup wasn’t Barry, whom I had grown to love, cherish, and admire. It was an imposter, and I knew it right away.
I called my mother immediately and insisted that there had been a mistake. After much back and forth, she sheepishly admitted that Barry had in fact run out. She thought she could trick me with Lyon’s, another popular brand of Irish tea. But I knew my Barry, and I knew she was the reason he was gone. I dumped Lyon on the side of the road and struggled through the rest of my morning. When I got home, Barry was back—the bright red, unopened box, sitting on the kitchen counter. My mom made us a pot, some cookies, and it was home again.
Fiona Winch graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 2018 and now lives in New York City pursuing a career in theater. She can be found at www.fionawinch.com and on Instagram.
The Really Specific Guide to A Perfect Pot of Tea
Boil water via kettle (electric or stovetop).