Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Energetic Calm Moment

Over the holiday weekend, we journeyed to our hometown for a family reunion and also a nephew's wedding. There was a lot of eating, kids playing, visiting, laughing, and all those things you expect at large (and small) family gatherings. I drank copious amounts of iced tea to combat the excessive heat, and had a fun, though ridiculously busy, long weekend. Among one of the many little surprises was running into my jr. high algebra teacher, Mrs. Shue. I don't think I've seen her since I left the halls of Fairmont Jr. High, but there was no mistaking her long, flowing hair (though it contained a few more silvery streaks), the long, flowing skirts, and the Birks.

Mrs. Shue is something of a marvel to me. As an "A" student, math of any kind was the bane of my existence. It didn't come easily. And even once I learned a concept, it slipped out of my memory banks within weeks, if not days. Algebra I was the worst of all maths. And here was this teacher who patiently worked with me before school, during breaks, and after school, thinking of any number of ways to explain a basic concept. She didn't give up. And her ever-patient smile was always waiting. I managed a B+ that year, for which I was extremely grateful. And when I showed up at her door the following year for Algebra II, she greeted me with that same patient smile (though I think we both inwardly groaned with the thought of, "Here we go again."). We survived another hard fought year together, and I think the thing that struck me the most was not that she was so patient and persistent with me. It's that she was that patient and persistent with EVERYONE. I was one of many. She had what I think of as an 'energetic calm.' She was the Energizer Bunny of teachers, and yet had that totally feel-good calmness that washed over you as soon as you entered her classroom. It was good to see her and let her know the impact she had. It's going to take some doing, however, to call her "Dorothy," as she requested.

It was her image that was brought to mind today when I sipped Traditional Guayusa (pronounced gwhy-you-sa) for the first time today. Runa Amazon Guayusa was kind enough to send some samples to me of this infusion. A caffeinated holly leaf native to Ecuador, guayusa is purported to contain an exceptional balance of caffeine, antioxidants, vitamins, and amino acids. In my mind - an energetic calm. As I steeped the leaves, I noticed a slightly sweet, almost banana scent, which I found very interesting. My husband said it smelled like a green tea, and I could sense the tiniest grassy element. Then, the first sip. I was surprised at how it hit my palate very similarly to a mild black tea blend. The brew seemed to coat my tongue just slightly more than your average black tea, but it finished with a subtle, natural sweetness. A cup of guayusa has nearly double the caffeine of a cup of black tea, though about 30% less than a cup of coffee. A bonus is that it contains 50% more antioxidants than green tea. For those tea lovers who are looking for the benefit of additional antioxidants and caffeine, this is a very good alternative.  I'm looking forward to trying their flavored blends, such as Peppermint, Ginger Citrus, and Guayusa Spice.

It's always fun to discover how different cultures have their own version of the 'tea' tradition. I wonder if Mrs. Shue, um, Dorothy would enjoy it?