Last night we received a package from home.  My mom did us a big favor by shipping some things to me, and I couldn’t decide which was more exciting:  the letter from Mamuster, the new shoes, the medicine I’ve been needing SINCE I GOT HERE FOUR MONTHS AGO, or the ribbon she sent for Sasha (my Mom is so funny).  She also sent me some tea that I’d requested – my department teachers (which include the English, science, and music teachers) love tea time, and I wanted to give them some new flavors from America.  Mamuster sent apple cinnamon tea and a red tea.  AND, Mom, that cocoa spice one is heavenly, so thanks for stuffing some of those packets in there for me.

Anyway, I was happy that the shoes actually fit, since I had to guess which size might be best for me.  They look great.  And the medicine is really probably the most important thing from the package.  The note was lovely, and Sasha doesn’t like the ribbon but she looks great in it (pictures to come).  But wouldn’t you know it, it was the tea that was the best part of the package.

I took it to the morning tea time today and told them that it was tea from America that my mom had sent, and it was for all of them.  They were happy enough about that, but it gets better.  I said, “This is apple cinnamon tea, it’s really popular in America around the fall and winter.” I heard my co-teacher translate it to just 사과 차 (apple tea).  One of the science teachers picked up the box and she knows a little bit of English, so she is reading it, and she sees the picture on the front and goes, “계피?!?!” (/kye-pi/) And she got super excited and when the others heard her say that, they got excited too as she showed them the cinnamon sticks on the box.

“I love 계피!” she said and proceeded to rip the box open.  They loved the packaging, but they NEEDED to taste that tea NOW.  I didn’t get to see their reaction to the taste because I had to go to class before they started drinking, but the fragrant cinnamon smell had them all looking high before I left.  I took a cup of it to my classroom, where the students also started squealing “계피!” when they smelled it.

I was pleased enough to get this kind of gratitude from them – my department teachers have been incredibly generous and kind and open to me, and I really want to try to reciprocate that, so this helped a little bit.  But I took that first sip, and my eyes watered.  I don’t even love the taste of that tea, but it was like every good thing that I love about home in the fall that I haven’t had and haven’t really thought about came flooding into my memory through my mouth.  I instantly saw in my mind’s eye the magnolia tree that kept wanting to bloom last winter – any day it wasn’t freezing it would burst with pink petals which would instantly freeze and die into the white snow.  That’s what the tea did to me – I burst with memories and longing for people and things I can’t have now.  It wasn’t homesickness, just a great, homey feeling.  So the tea wins – it took the top spot.

UPDATE: As of lunchtime, the teachers are still talking about the tea.  I even hear them referencing it in Korean (they’d be stunned to know how much I can pick up).