Monday, February 8, 2010

Iced Chai


What is your writing beverage of choice?

by Rebecca Cantrell


Thank you, CJ, for going first! I was sure I was going to be the most boring Criminal Mind here. Now I’m just in the top two.

My beverage of choice: Iced Soy Chai. My favorite chais are Tazo and Stash, plus whatever they use for the vanilla chai up at the Aloha Theater in Kainaliu. Sadly, they’re not open all morning or I’d be up there sucking down vanilla chais with foam all day long. None of these come in chocolate caramel versions, CJ, but maybe they’re better than nothing.

I used to swear by Earl Grey. I even had the London Fog, with vanilla syrup and foamy milk from time to time. But as I descend into the darker and colder years of Nazi-ism, I’ve found I like to be a little cold when I write. Earl Grey doesn’t taste right iced. It’s drinkable, but not the same. And I can’t hear Patrick Stewart’s voice saying “Earl Grey, cold” somehow.

Living in Hawaii it’s not that easy to find some place where you can bundle yourself up in a long sleeved shirt and write without overheating, especially when drinking hot tea (how did the British do it in India?). I know, I know, that’s just my cross to bear and no one scraping ice off their car right now has a lick of sympathy. I’m not expecting any.


This is where I must confess that I write in Starbucks. I know I should feel guilty about this, and I do. In my defense, I have tried to go to every single independent coffee shop within a half hour of my house and none of them but the one Starbucks lets me sit undisturbed and write for hours and hours and hours. Most want me out within thirty minutes, and my pocketbook and bladder can’t afford to buy a new cup of tea every thirty minutes. I’d spend more time in the bathroom than writing.
So, what’s YOUR favorite beverage? And is it seasonal, for those of you with seasons?

12 comments:

Sophie Littlefield said...

hey becky, do NOT feel guilty about s'bucks! I think that if you can get the job done, you deserve to have a guilt-free experience. At my old house I sometimes wrote at McDonald's. People rail against that place for all kinds of reasons, but I have an abiding fondness for it. Not only do i love the food, the people at the counter, and the endless diet coke, but i came to love the brown fake-wood booths and formica tables and my "special" seat, away from the annoying downdrafts and halfway between the bathrooms and the soda machine.

AND i love independent coffee houses. There's room for both, obviously.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Sophie, for the guilt pass! When I got to the front to order this morning (I was reading my mail on my iphone in line and not paying attention), there was my iced venti soy chai right by the register. So, I got it the second I paid, much to the suprise of the folks in line in front of me. I felt like a celebrity, which never happens to writers. :)

I wrote a short story once that I expanded into a novel in a McDonalds in Monroeville, PA. Something about the smell of fries is very inspirational...

Mysti Lou said...

I didn't know they'd let you stay for longer than 20 minutes in Mickey Deez! Will have to try that sometime, because all the coffee houses and all the bookstores are chock full of people w/laptops in SF. Even if the place has lousy coffee (except Zephyr, my godsend, but it's 20 minutes drive away! I can write over 200 words in 20 minutes!).

The local Borders is really an annex of SFSU. It NEVER has the book I'm looking for (in seven years), so I think they should get rid of the book part and make it all coffee shop, all the time. Becky, feel no more guilt about giving Starbucks $$. I keep a card at work for the days when I forget my wallet. If Peets was down there, I'd have a Peets card. You got to work with what you've got, after all.

I'm a beverage whore. Anything that strikes my fancy at the time (-booze if writing) works for me: Diet A&W root beer, tall mugs full of ice and fresh water (love the tap water in San Francisco!), 2 day old coffee reheated and dosed w/whatever milk or creamer we have on hand. If things are desperate I'll resort to my old favorite Diet Pepsi, but since bubbles plus fake sugar plus caffeine create a perfect storm of hunger cues in the stomach, I try to avoid it.

Hopefully I allowed to be a writer, even if I don't have a beverage of choice for writing. Because I don't know how to put all the words back in my head ;)

Mysti Lou said...

um, "hopefully I *am* allowed to be a writer. must have been my subconscious making a joke :)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I think you are an incredible writer, Mysti, no matter what you drink! I've been known to branch out into diet Coke myself. Or hot tea if I'm writing someplace really cold (like San Francisco). One good thing about working at a chain is I don't feel the same level of guilt about keeping a table warm for hours that I would if I were at a mom&pop who might need the turnover (although I try never to sit for hours at places where all the tables are full).

Such a complicated equation, guilt. :)

Shane Gericke said...

I agree with Sophie--don't feel guilty about Starbucks. They put out a decent product, offer a warm and inviting place, and treat their employees great. What's not to like? Mom and pops are a little overrated sometimes, methinks.

Shane Gericke said...

2 day old coffee reheated ...

Ah, Mysti, you ARE a writer :-) And if your posts are an indication, a dandy one at that.

So many of you like chai I'm gonna have to try it sometime, I guess, for the full Writerly Experience. But I'm skeered. Maybe if you, y'know, hold me ...

Meredith Cole said...

I wrote in coffee houses all the time for my first book. There's something about all that hustle and bustle that helps me concentrate. It's very strange because if there's any noise at home I can't concentrate!

So no guilt. Just keep writing (wherever you can!)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

> But I'm skeered. Maybe if you,
>y'know, hold me ...
I am WAY too old to fall for that one, Gericke! :)

Chai is tasty. If you're not allergic to milk, go for the milk version as it's way better than the soy (I remember it vividly).

Meredith: isn't it weird how different things bother us in different places? Seems like there's a panel question in there, but I can't quite suss it out.

Shane Gericke said...

Dern. I cain't get nobody to fall for that one. Maybe if I put on Barry White and murmur, "I want to hold you, baby, like you hold my heart in your hands ..." while pouring a cup of sweet chai epiphany ...

Wonder if they sell epiphany at Starbucks?

Joshua Corin said...

I used to hate Starbucks -- until my brother got a job there and allowed me to have free beverages and suddenly, my taste buds changed and I couldn't have enough iced decaf mochas or peppermint hot cocoas or caramel apple spices or...

Excuse me, I need to go visit my brother...

Jen Forbus said...

I have to admit that my drink of choice is hot chocolate. However, the desire to be several sizes smaller than my present one has the hot chocolate off limits. It's hard right now, too, because I feel like I've been cold since November! I belong in a hot climate...I really do.

Every morning, though, I fill my water bottle with ice and Crystal Light iced tea - usually either raspberry or peach flavored. At lunch, I switch to Diet Pepsi (because that's what we have at work) then in the evening, it's Caffeine Free Diet Coke.

When I'm feeling chilled to the bone, I like my hot tea...usually herbal fruit teas, but I do like Earl Gray as well. I once had this wonderful plum tea, but I've not been able to find it again. Figures!