“I didn’t think I was,” I respond. “But I guess I am now.”
I’ve just wandered into Sophie’s Cuppa Tea
, a tea market and sipping spot on Antioch Court in Oakland's Montclair Village. I was, I admit, on my way to do some writing at the Peet’s down the street, when the red paper lanterns caught my attention through the window.
The man behind the counter — who I later find out is owner John Brown — offers to help me figure out what I’m after. Do I want more caffeine, less caffeine, no caffeine? Do I like floral, herbal, sweet, smoky, fruity, honey, or the pure taste of tea? I opt for something smoky and Brown delves further into my palate preferences.
“Can I ask if you're a scotch drinker and do you like the flavor of smoke in your scotch?” he poses.
I think about scotch and I smile.
“Yes,” I answer. "Unquestionably, yes." I am one of the more indecisive people that I know and there are precious few decisions that I make quickly. I am grateful for Brown's spot-on assistance.
"I think I'll start you off with the Smokey Pine," he offers.
"Sounds great," I say.
"I'll brew it strong if that's okay. Most smoky scotch drinkers tend to like the Smokey Pine strong."
“Are you looking for a tea?” asks a kind-faced man with curly gray hair and glasses.