Tea and Chocolate

The transition from Summer to Autumn in the UK is usually a fairly swift one; one week the sun is blazing high in the sky, the next week everyone’s wearing three layers in order to dress for both hot and cold temperatures, and finally this is followed by that week of unusual stillness, where the sun is out, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and you can see your breath fogging up the air before you. Then it rains for the next three months.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of autumn; the colours, the clothes, Lost and Battlestar Galactica are on again, games and films are being released once more…it’s generally a pleasant season, until the English extended Winter kicks in about a month from now and stays with us until Spring (which begins somewhere between the second and fourth weeks of July as far as I can tell).

I’ve also mentioned before that I’m a bit of a fan of coffee, espresso specifically, but as the weather turns so does my attention to tea and chocolate. In fact, I used up the last of my espresso a few weeks ago and haven’t even bothered to buy in some fresh grounds; instead, I’ve been stocking up on spiced Chai and hot chocolate. Instead of senseless purchases of espresso cups, I face senseless purchases of mugs.

Frankly, with such pressing matters as these on my mind, it’s a wonder I ever make it through the day.

Maybe I have a problem

During our few weeks of nicely-blistering weather, my drinks of choice were espresso — thick, dark and oily, accompanied by one or two dates and walnuts — or sweet mint tea, allowing me to pretend I was somewhere exotic, perhaps somewhere where I could wear a white suit and Panama hat whilst being fanned by olive-skinned young women as I sat in a house made entirely of wicker. Are these unusual drinks for hot weather? I’ve no idea, to be honest; it’s perfectly possible that all I was doing was dehydrating myself. I did briefly experiment with iced tea, but really, who has the time? All that faffing with lemons and ice and jugs; I’m a busy man.

My first indication that it was time for a change was when I started arriving home from work craving hot chocolate instead of coffee. As it turns out, this was because I was about to have a stinking cold and my throat was craving warm, thick, soothing, milkyness. Fortunately this cold coincided with me completing the first draft of HTML Mastery, so I was able to lounge around for a few days watching films and necking pints of Green & Black’s.

From them on, it was a slippery slope. Hot chocolate became my regular evening drink, chocolate products — bars and cakes and the like — crept back into my diet, and then one day I found myself in Whittards selecting from their tempting ‘3 for £5’ offer on boxes of tea (I went with Chai, Ceylon and White, should you care, but I have plans to experiment with Lapsang Souchong and Gunpowder Green at a later date. My life is very fulfilling).

As I write this, I have a mug of hot chocolate to my left, a bar of Lindt Excellence to my right (the Madagascar option), three pots of Gü in the fridge downstairs and I’m finding myself spending a worrying amount of time browsing Hotel Chocolat. I am beginning to suspect that my body is subconsciously bulking up for the winter. The problem is, I never really unbulked from last winter, so it’s basically just new bulk on top of old bulk.

Nor does it really end with the reintroduction of tea and chocolate into my diet; there’s all sorts of Autumn/Winter foods creeping back into my shopping basket — crumpets and porridge, chips and pies…is this what the environmentalists mean when they say we should eat seasonally? Probably not, but then, there’s no pleasing some people.