Confession time: I am not a tea drinker, and prefer coffee as my Hot Beverage of Life.

Although, there are a few exceptions to this rule: when I experience a momentarily lapse in judgment and declare coffee the root of all evil, when I need a hint of caffeine in the evening (and I’ve already consumed five cups of coffee), or when my brother sends me this amazing pottery mug for my birthday.

In previous telephone conversations, he has already sold this gift as The Most Awesome Gift that You Will Ever Receive, as in all of the world, across all spectrums of gift-giving and receiving—that kind of awesome; and it is really awesome.

I wash the mug out by hand, flip the electric kettle on to boil water, and rummage through my wife’s tea collection. In the general sense, I like strong tea such as chai or black varieties. Definitely, I am not a fruity or floral tea kind of guy—anything pressed from flowers receives two-thumbs-down from me, and is classified as one of the most deadly ways to torture a man (or woman). I locate a suitable candidate for my first brew—a coconut chai, loose-leaf blend. Five scoops to eight ounces of water, and I place the tea inside the insert. The kettle is finished, and ready for me now.

In the meantime, I’ve gathered my camera and tripod, a flashlight, and two pieces of black poster board. My make-shift studio is complete, and I pour the hot water into the mug. As the tea steeps for three minutes, I photograph the mug which is illuminated by a single point of light: the flashlight. I love the simplicity of the image, the beauty of the painted dragon, and the rising scent of coconut and chai.

The finished brew is fantastic, not on par with that of an expensive coffee, but it is something that I can definitely appreciate and enjoy, from time to time.

My brother is very unusual, in his own way. Both of my brothers, actually, are definitely unique. I call him on the telephone to “Talk Tea”, which is a bizarre notion, in itself. As long as I’ve known him, he has never enjoyed any hot beverage. The key word there is any, as in: none, zero, zilch, nada. Never a coffee, never a hot chocolate, and never a hot tea. Yet, the peculiar thing is that he begins to tell me how he loves his matching dragon mug.

Say what? Slow your roll. Yes, his favorite teas—thus far—are fruity. The bile rises from my stomach.

His wife is an avid tea drinker of fine tastes. We’re not talking truck-stop tea drinking, but finely brewed and steeped varieties, created in fancy glass containers, served in fancy mugs that scream “you must raise your pinky finger, while drinking this tea.” My brother explains to me that he is attempting to find logic and appreciation in the art of tea drinking. This monumental leap, for him at least, is explained by a desire to find common interests and hobbies with his spouse—a sentiment that causes me to inspect my own relationship.

They even had a date night at a local tea house, without kids. Just them two, sipping tea with pinky fingers perched up, nice and high in the sky. Chatting about Earl Grey, Oolong, Darjeeling, and probably munching on cucumber sandwiches. I don’t know, I just made that last part up on my own.

His effort is definitely admirable; I’ll give him that much.

I mention it to my wife, and she immediately has something to add: “…you mean like how you won’t stay up at night and watch television with me?”, “…or how I can never get you to drink tea with me?”, and “…or…”—more of her words follow, but I have no idea what they mean, my eyes roll back into my head, as my mind trails off to a happier place inside the Me-O-Sphere of my world.

Ouch, apparently I’m lacking in certain departments of spousal interaction. Leave it to her to define points of life for me to improve upon.

Maybe I should prepare another cup of tea and ponder the many ways—apparently, too numerous to mention—that I can step up my game as a husband and spouse? How about a delicate Chai Green blend? Yes, that will do nicely. Now where is my pen and paper?