Steep Stories

of the Lazy Literatus

The Pearl to My Earl

Three years ago, I posed a theory about tea and dating, wherein I said that neither the two should blend. After failing at such attempts several times, I considered myself an informed (if bitter) expert on the subject. Granted, there was some…outlying evidence to the contrary; for me it was a no-no. But then I saw an old couple.

I was in a random tearoom, enjoying a sandwich and Silver Needle, and a man in his late twenties arrived with an elderly couple – his parents. Their names, I overheard, were – and I’m not joking – Pearl and Earl. Just hearing their names made my heart sigh.

That’s what I wanted. To skip the travails and rigmarole of dating and go straight to the “old-couple-in-a-tearoom” phase. I wanted to find the Pearl to my Earl.

Years later, I believed I found the candidate. She was one of my coworkers, and she was British. I’d written about her before. Twice, even. She was beautiful, but didn’t seem aware of it. She possessed wit, but was subtle about it. And she was charming…but needlessly downplayed it.

In short order, I thought, I might like her.

We hung out at a coffee shop once over the summer. Both of us ordered tea. She went with the Jasmine Pearls; I went with an Earl Grey. Sparks didn’t exactly fly. Conversation was strained but friendly. I considered it a failure, but a quiet one.

A few months later, she texted me, “Do you want to grab tea sometime next week?”

I responded with a, “Sure!”…but I had no plan in mind.

One arrived the following day when I learned of a coffee shop called The Red E. They were one of the few places in Portland that served cascara – a tisane made from the husks of coffee cherries. Mizuba Tea’s Lauren had told me about it. I posed this idea to the British girl, and she was game.

The cascara reminded me of hibiscus, only more subdued on the tartness. And, boy, was it ever caffeinated. I suppose it helped because our conversation was far more animated than our previous outing. We seemed more comfortable around each other, and conversed like two old friends.

Yep, I like her, I thought to myself.

In the ensuing weeks, she informed members of our work team that she was homesick, and set on returning to the UK. I was saddened to hear it, but figured I better make the most of it. I aimed to spend as much time with her as our schedules would allot.

Our third outing was one we both suggested to each other – The Fly Awake Tea Garden. A couple in Northeast Portland had converted their garage and driveway into a tearoom, herbal shop and herb garden. It was amazing.

We sipped one of the best examples of artisan chai we ever beheld, and were treated to a yixing pot of Da Hong Pao by one of the owners. All the while, we traded barbs, shared stories, and laughed. I could’ve listened to that laugh for the rest of my life.

Whoah, I really like her, I mused.

For our penultimate outing, we were finally able to make it to a place we’d wanted to hunt down for ages. She had mentioned that Pix Patisserie served Earl Grey truffles, and I was craving the idea of them ever since. One random (if late) night, we finally dove into them. Or at least, I did. (She wasn’t fond of Earl Grey anything.)

At first, I couldn’t taste the bergamot. That and there were so many other flavors vying for attention. By the second truffle, I could easily weed out the bergamot base and savored it. Just as I savored her company.

As we walked back to my car, having lost track of time, I realized, Damn, I’m in love with her. How inconvenient.

Our final tea-ish outing was a jaunt to one of my new favorite spots, Tea Bar. She ordered their matcha latte, while I stuck with my new mainstay – their Lapsang latte. They prepped the milk in such a way that the foam formed hearts at the top of the cups.

Right then, I almost told her how I felt…but I held it in.

After all, what was the point? She was leaving, and it was fairly clear the feelings were nowhere near reciprocal. Why push the envelope?

As I write this, she’s on a plane back east.

But I did come to one conclusion. She may have not been the Pearl to my Earl, but I was now open to the idea of finding her. After our repeated tea outings, I realized I rather enjoyed having a partner-in-crime on these little jaunts. My rule needed to be changed. While it still held true that tea and dating didn’t work, the same could not be said for tea and relationships.

Other beverages are temporary. Coffee, beer and wine buzzes are fleeting. They’re necessary only in reminding us that we still have a heartbeat. Tea, though? Tea is a journey. From that first cup to the last. It is a story waiting to be told. And when told with another, it is pure time-released bliss.

There’s a man I know who owns a teashop in Eugene, OR. I’ve probably mentioned him from time to time. He met a girl who came into his teashop. Over the course of time, they got to know each other. Then one day, before he knew it, they were married, and later had a son.

That is what I needed to hold out for. Tea wasn’t for everyone, just as tea and dating weren’t for everyone. It was the perfect way to weed out the wrong ones. I just had to hold out for the right one…

The Pearl to my Earl.

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lazyliteratus

Tea blogger, professional cleaner of toilets, amateur people watcher.
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27 Comments

  1. It is great to find common interests with a significant other!

  2. Charming story. 🙂

  3. this is really beautiful! i loved reading your story. so sorry to hear that she flew away, but perhaps the next pearl is coming along. 🙂

  4. I do hope you find that pearl. Your story gave my heart a tug. With you openness, she is certain to appear with a cup of tea in her hand.

  5. Jo

    I do hope she reads this post. Sending positive thoughts into the universe.

  6. Profile photo of Robert Godden

    Your finest work, Geoffrey.

  7. Such a lovely post. The Pearl to your Earl! I love this so much. My favorite story that I have read all week. Thank you.

  8. Profile photo of Xavier

    I am sure you will find the Pearl to your Earl.

    And sometimes the Universe plays according to its strange rules, so who knows what might come next?

  9. Tony

    I’m so glad you changed your rule! Go get your pearl!

  10. Profile photo of Jackie

    Love it when you write these open, honest, lay-it-all bare stories. Very moving. But you know what? In the end you’ll probably find love with someone who didn’t drink tea at all before you met, who favors coffee, or micro beer, someone you’d never ever have expected to find in some unlikely place. She’s out there, she’s waiting but please don’t discount her if she’s never really liked tea. Perhaps our Pear will grow fond of the leaves by your Silver Anniversary. You never know…
    J.

  11. Hi @lazyliteratus. very interesting story. Hope you find ur pearl.

    We offer 150+ varirties of fresh Indian teas. I was wondering if you could taste our teas and share your experiences with your blog reader. Please send me an email if you like to try our teas.

    Thank you.

  12. Such a romantic story! 🙂

  13. Genmaicha Girl

    I happen to know that you had a HUGELY positive influence on ‘the British girl’s life. That she will smile fondly whenever she thinks about the time she spent with you. Stay hopeful in your search for Pearl kind Sir, you have much to give some lucky lady. The wait will be worth it.

  14. Margo Hutchinson

    You sure got a lot of comments on this article, how fun!

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