I am a tea drinker. I drink anywhere from three to five cups of the stuff a day. My beverage of choice? Irish Breakfast blend – lovely black tea with a strong aroma and hearty flavor that pairs perfectly with a bit of sugar and a generous helping of milk.
So where does my tea come from? Am I buying it at the local farmer’s market? Is it coming from my Co-Op after being grown the next state over? No. No it isn’t.
My tea comes from China – or possibly India or Sri Lanka. And the coffee in my house that my partner and my mother drink comes from, depending on the brand, Africa or S. America. And while the coffee, unlike the tea, is processed locally by Aroma Coffee, the beans certainly aren’t grown here.
So, with all the focus on eating locally, how does one drink locally as well without, dare I say it, giving up a necessary addition to your diet? Because while I enjoy caffeine and pretty much require it to live, I really drink it for the people around me. Un-caffeinated, I am evil, pure and simple.
There are, of course, ways to drink your coffee or tea responsibly – buying only fair trade beans or teas and looking for certified organic products. In general, however, this still only partially lowers the impact of this country’s food consumption – the environmental issues are still not resolved.
At this point, I have to concede defeat, as I am not aware of any locally grown and harvested caffeinated beverages out there. Yerba mate is, aside from absolutely disgusting, not grown in this climate either, though it does come from this hemisphere. There are certain things that really are luxuries, and it appears that tea (or coffee) is truly one of these.
While the caffeinated beverages above are hard to buy locally, alcohol is rather easy to find. The surge of the microbrewery trend in the ’90′s has led to a surplus of local breweries and Santa Fe is no different. We have four separate brewpubs in town. And as it turns out, New Mexico is actually decent wine country so there are several small wineries to choose from as well, though they tend to be more spread out and most sell their fare only in their vineyard shops.
Perhaps one day there will be a trend for local coffee growers and tea makers, but until then I will enjoy this warm cup of tea with bittersweet enthusiasm; a delicious cup of indulgence. And as soon as they discover how to grow tea in a high desert climate, I will be the first to try it out. Until then, Happy eating!