A Splash of Matcha in My Chai Tea Latte

Wandering the streets of Troy, I always saw myself living there for the rest of my life. I knew that it’s where I was meant to be and that Troy had become a part of me. Here, I had grown into person that I am and gained friendships that would last a lifetime. The school was great, what, with the whole High School Musical vibe. Everybody knew everyone, there was a party at someone’s house every Friday night, and an occasional all-girls sleepover. Eight months straight of heavy Michigan snow and a couple of days of the most exhausting summers had made a way into the normality of my life. Every morning before driving off to school, I dropped by the Starbucks down the block and without any doubt requested for my regular chai tea latte. Only to find out that this would soon come to an end. Just before I could start my much-anticipated high school career, I found myself dragging my suitcase off the baggage claim and sulking my way through the Narita airport. These were supposed to be the glorious years of my life, where I’d learn how to drive, host amazing parties, and do all the things that every high school girl does. But who knew that I’d have to spend the next three years in a dorm with two Japanese girls, with whom, FYI, things did not start off well.

Leaving behind friends, family, school, and my room, it felt as if the only thing that would make this better would be a cup of my favorite chai tea latte. I remember walking into the Starbucks near my dorm after the first day of school. I knew exactly what I wanted and was ready with my finger to point at the picture of the teacup on the menu. The moment I pointed at it, the lady said something that I couldn’t understand. All I could do was nod my head and smile back at her. When my order finally came, I let the cafe sofa consume me and took a sip. This is not what I had ordered. In a moment I rose to anger, feeling frustrated with how everything seemed wrong. But the soothing taste of whatever the kind lady at the cafe had put in chai, with just a sip, made me feel alleviated from my problems. It took me days, if not weeks, before I could learn enough Japanese to finally ask the lady what she had put in my chai, and every time I went to the cafe, she’d wipe me up the same thing.

The next three years seem like a blur now, but in those moments, I know how much I learned and how I struggled to manage my new life in Japan. Whether it was the stress of an upcoming exam, or just a day to relax with my friends, I’d find myself at the cafe, ordering myself a cup of my new favorite drink: chai tea latte with a splash of matcha. Not until two months after graduating from high school did I realized how similar to the tea was to my life. I thought that being Indian and growing up in America was a part of me, and that is what I was made up of. Only to understand that, over these past few years, I became blended with a little bit of matcha. And like how just a pinch of it manages to change the color of the tea completely, a splash of Japan redefined me. Being me no longer meant being just a brown girl living in Troy, it meant that, now, there was a splash of matcha in my chai tea latte.