In Argentina, merienda is a quintessential part of daily life. Merienda, a light meal of pastries or snacks taken around 5 o’clock, quite simply means “tea time.” For most Argentines, merienda is treated as importantly, or arguably more importantly, than business affairs. The tea that is typically served at this hour is mate, the country’s national drink, a bitter green tea served in a seasoned gourd. At merienda, friends and family members gather, nibble on little delicacies and pass the mate-filled gourd around; each individual drinks the mate through a metal straw, then refills the gourd with hot water and passes it to the next person.
While mate is sipped, many subjects are discussed, but two in particular stand out: Politics and football. Passionately. Fervently. Discussed.
Which leader in national history was the most corrupt and why?
Which football team is superior to all others and why?
Who is responsible for the current president getting elected?
Who will win the upcoming River vs. Boca match?
Regardless of the conclusions reached in the lively debates that ensue over these questions, there are a few things to be sure of in the ritual: Tea facilitates communion. Tea facilitates conversation. Tea facilitates connection.
In Taiwan, going out at night for boba tea is an important part of most young people’s lives. With the island nation’s hot and humid subtropical climate, a vibrant night market culture has sprung up for when the sun goes down. After dinner, many Taiwanese take a trip to the nearest night market from their homes, where among things like basic sundries and wacky gadgets, delicious snacks and iced boba teas are sold. In boba shops throughout Taiwan, you’ll find people, particularly of the youngish set, sitting around tables, their boba cups full with green, black, and yellow teas, puddings, tapioca, and brown sugar bobas.
And like in Argentina, while tea is sipped (bobas thoroughly chewed and swallowed), issues are ironed out.
What does the world look like far away from here?
What do I want to do with my life?
How do I let her know that I’m in love with her?
How do I get involved in the Sunflower Student Movement?
And again it becomes clear. From Argentina to Taiwan, give the people tea, and they will talk.
Tea Station is doing its part to bring the time-honored ritual of tea and conversation to the California region and beyond.
Green tea, black tea, boba tea, it’s all available at Tea Station for you and the special people in your life with whom you converse.
Written by Stephanie Karlik