“…Napalm in the Morning!”

by wearerofhats

I enjoy tea.

Strike that. I greatly enjoy tea. I drink it more often than any other beverage, and I see no reason why I should not drink it all the time, apart from my rapidly growing tolerance for caffeine and some drivel about tannins interfering with mineral absorption. Tea is the high point of otherwise bad days, the perfect counterpart to a good day, and a way to turn mediocre days  into… well, into mediocre days with tea, which is better than the alternative

Black teas are my favorite, of course. There’s something incredibly appealing about the hearty, fulfilling nature of a cup of Earl Grey or lapsang souchong (which I tend to refer to as the “bacon tea” for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who has tried it), especially as they, unlike coffee, are drinkable without any added substances. And while I’m sure that long-time coffee drinkers eventually grow to appreciate the taste on its own, I have never enjoyed its acrid, burnt flavor. It is a caffeine delivery system to me, and little else. Lighter blacks, especially darjeeling, have a definite place in the hierarchy of beverages; greens are perfect for warmer days; whites are also quite good, although I sometimes find them too delicate.

I tell you this not to make me seem even whiter (which would be quite a feat indeed!) but because it ties directly into one of the insignificant details in life that never fails to annoy me. A pet peeve, if you will, though I have never liked that expression.

When it comes to foods and beverages or, indeed, any product, marketing is the key to success. The best drink in the world might go utterly unnoticed as a greatly inferior competitor rises to prominence simply because their slogan was catchier. I accept this because I am forced to accept this, and I try not to pay too much attention to such gimmicks as colorful packaging, “new and improved” banners, or clever names.

And oh, how I despise clever names.

Creativity should be exercised in the genesis and construction of the product itself, and from then on it should be able to carry its own weight. Adding unwieldy adjectives and awkward wordplay doesn’t make the thing taste any better or work more efficiently, except perhaps on a psychological level… but I seem to be immune to this particular aspect of the placebo effect, due in part to my inherently skeptical nature.

A name should sum up the product you’re trying to sell. For example, when I woke up this morning I tried a new tea – “Guava Ginseng Green,” said the label, and lo and behold it contained guava and ginseng in a base of green tea. Simple, clean, and effective, with the soft G of ginseng breaking up what would otherwise be an irritatingly cutesy bit of alliteration.

This contrasts sharply with, say, “Nutcracker Sweet,” a delightful holiday tea from one of the bigger American companies out there. Not only is it a pun that demands prior knowledge of the works of Tchaikovsky, but it also tells you nothing about the contents of the tea itself. Is it black? Green? White? Oolong? Herbal? Does it taste like Christmas – and, for that matter, what does Christmas taste like? The only hint is from “nutcracker,” which would imply that it has some sort of nut flavoring. (And there is indeed a bit of nut, but it is merely one of the many flavors contained within, and it is far from the most prominent.)

False advertising! Misleading labels!

Calling me absurd, are you? Calling me ridiculous and petty? Fine. Perhaps I am.

These seemingly meaningless rants do actually serve a purpose. A double purpose, in fact. Firstly, they help me retain my overly critical view of the world. And secondly, they let me vent frustration that is rooted in more serious issues, issues that I am not comfortable discussing.

We all have our ways of coping.

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