Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Coffee and Mormon Tea


While surfing around at Mary Jane's Farm Farmgirl Connection this morning, I came across a post about Camp Coffee.  The discussion sent my mind into the back recesses of my memory.  I remember as a child that coffee played an important role in my life.

My mother was a devoted coffee drinker.  She woke every morning at 4:30 a.m.  She would make her coffee, pour it into a favorite teacup, and add a scant teaspoon of sugar to sweeten the drink.  Her habit was to sit at the tablecloth covered kitchen table and sip on the coffee as if it were the finest cup of tea in England.  She would cross her left leg over her right leg and bounce her foot as if she was counting the moments of peace she was experiencing.

I was always interested in my mothers coffee habit.  We, as children, were never allowed to taste it.  She explained that coffee was an adult drink and was not suitable for children. If, on a rare occasion, we woke early enough to join her, Mother would make us a drink she called "Mormon Tea".  It was really warm milk with a drop of vanilla and sugar as a sweetener.  She would often have a cookie or some other treat to dip into the sweet nectar. On these occasions, we were made to feel like we were a very special child in her life.

I found out later that "Mormon Tea" is actually a drink made from steeping the fresh or dried stems of the Ephreda plant, which grew native in the Salt Lake Valley, when the LDS church settled there in the early 1800's.  The Native Americans used Ephedra Tea to sooth stomach and bowel disorders, to treat colds, fevers and headaches.  The twigs were often dried, powdered and used in a poultice for the treatment of burns or sores.  Ephedra is a stimulant and produces the same effect as adreniline. The Ephedra nevadensis Wats., family Ephedraceae plant grows throughout the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is found in deserts and on dry mountain sides.  My mother's version was probably much tastier than the original version, though I don't know if it had all of the healing abilities of it's predecessor.

My mother's daughter has grown into a grown woman.  That grown woman occasionally enjoys a nice cup of coffee with a drop of cream and pinch of artificial sweetener.  I do not ever rise at 4:30 a.m. I do not sip coffee from a teacup or bounce my crossed leg in the fashion of my mother.  Many of the habits that made her who she was have gone with her to eternal glory.  One thing she did leave with me is the realization that she had been training me to be an adult throughout my childhood.  She did it with purpose.  She did it with love.  She did it with a cup of coffee, sipped out of a teacup like it was the finest tea in England.