I woke up early that morning, I'm not sure why. There was a lot on my mind I guess. The birds had begun whispering over head, while the Sun had stretched her lazy morning stretch and now settled into a cradle of soft white clouds, enveloping Wednesday in a cozy grey lining. I filled the stainless steel pot with water, and set it on the lit stove. Passed down from generations of Indian and British tradition, I had become accustomed to chai in the morning.

Taking the mortar and pestle, I ground up two pieces of elaichi, and a little pinch of kaisar for the tea.

The beads of black tea looked like microscopic caviar. I took two lumps, and threw it into the boiling water. The water reacted at first, then settled. I could smell the strength and bitterness of the tea as it simmered in the water, a comfortable and familiar smell.

I grabbed my favorite mug. It had the shape of a woman with the most perfect hourglass figure, pinched at the waist but blooming curvaceously from there, with elegance.

Black tea into the mug, then the mele of Kaisar and elaichi, then a dollop of milk and two teaspoons of granulated white sugar. Almost ready to sit down, I grabbed two pieces of wheat bread, and threw them into the toaster. I always dipped toast in my tea. I could not have one without the other.

The clouds began breaking overhead and the Sun tiptoed out from behind them. Rays fell on my shoulder, beating down through the glass window panes, and I felt wrapped in warmth. -NJ

I always smell the teabag first, ground to leaf to olfactory to anticipation. The steeping is sexy, a swirl seductive in its intentions, to color the water slowly, slowly, reaching its foreign fingers to the banks of the cup until it's overtaken the clear city water, New York meets whatever country we're to believe this tea came from. The steam is a facial, a beckoning, the dew drops invisible on my skin but it feels like a soft kiss from a baby cousin, or a tear being wiped away by someone who loves you. The kiss of the steam the kind of warm you feel when a friend who loves you, a friend you can be silent with, traces your scalp with their fingers and makes and unmakes lazy braids on your head.

Days and days of black tea. I love the bland smell and the burnt tongue and the slow burn, teeth, tongue, throat, down, down, you can feel your insides being touched and loved and sparking up a bit from the caffeine of it. The hot in your hands, remember it, the raw of the burn on your tongue, remember it, our body's memory screaming I'm here! You're alive! Wake up. Feel me! Treat me well! Live a life! -KM