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The warmth and comfort offered by a simple cup of tea is a love like nothing else on earth. Especially in stressful times, stopping to fix a warm mugful provides a pause and a moment to reflect. The practice of boiling water, selecting your tea, and adding your fixings is grounding — a way to center yourself and go on with your day just a little bit warmer. During finals season especially, tea can be the perfect reprieve.

Throughout the past year, I have depended more and more on tea and tea times. As classes come to a close and final exams loom, the drink has become more than just that. It is warmth, steadfastness, a routine that I can depend on. Even as winter becomes springtime and the sun shines a bit brighter, tea can hearten any evening. It is something I know that is tried and true. I first started making tea regularly when the first stay at home orders were in place, and I never really stopped. I’m no expert; I use an electric kettle and packaged tea bags. Nothing I’m doing is new or interesting given the long and significant history of tea. But setting the water to boil, steeping for just the right amount of time, and carefully stirring in some honey — it feels more purposeful than it practically is. In overwhelming times, like finals, stopping to fix a cup of tea can feel monumental. Okay, maybe the essay I have to write for class is kicking my ass, but I can make a good cup of tea and enjoy it. 

Tea provides the gratification of creation, but without a whole lot of undue effort. In that way, it’s a nice break from finals; the gratification of studying for hours comes weeks later with grades, and by then the reward is stale and dulled. But you fix a cup of tea and then you drink it. Its simplicity is not to discount the creative energy that goes into a good cup. There are so many combinations, and you can tell a lot about a person from how they’ve cultivated their perfect cup of tea. First of all, there is the myriad of types to choose from: green, black, herbal, and all their accompanying flavors and notes, not to mention the add-ons and fixings. Personally, I’m a simple girl; black tea with a spoon of honey and some lemon is perfect for an evening study session. But there are so many ways to take one’s tea, so many ways to be comforted by a hot drink. 

This year has been tough for a lot of reasons. The little things have made it bearable, and those little things for me have included many, many mugs of hot tea. As the school year comes to a close, it’s alright to lean on the small practices that have held you up so far. Final exams aren’t fun in any cases, but they might be a little easier to take on with a cup of tea in hand.


Clarissa Melendez

Columbia Barnard '24

Clarissa Melendez is a freshman at Barnard College, where she studies Art History. She loves books and movies and spends her time in Austin, Texas making collages and driving her 2003 Toyota 4Runner to the video store.
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