Tea is considered emblematic of the Ai-Naidar and the official drink of the empire. Many are the tracts that discuss its virtues. Tea may be served with meals and is poured from pots and served in bowls.
Types of TeaEdit
Let arva (directly, “tea vine”) is found natively on the Ai-Naidar First World, growing on the branches of a shrub found on the sides of hills and ditches called the gelme sherani, "the humble plant." Without the tea vine, gelme shera are overwhelmed by direct sunlight and die. Likewise, the tea plant cannot survive without a host to suspend it, nor does it grow very high. It is well-suited to its partner.
Together, tea vine and host offer a considerable bounty: gelme sherani’s leaves can be ground as an analgesic and its small berries are delicious; they are also crushed to form the basis for the pigment that dyes the stoles of Public Servants, a color adequately translated as "mulberry." The tea vine, of course, yields the tea leaves that are cured and dried in many different ways, each method yielding a different flavor. Let is a mild relaxant. It is not strong enough to induce sleep, only to calm a troubled thought.
In flavor let varies from grassy and astringent to smoky and earthy, but the mouth feel is always clear and is not mediated with thick liquids except for a syrup made for children. Though it was found first on First World, it is successfully farmed as far as Third. Let arva also grows on the colonies, though not as easily... farmers are at work on a cultivar that will thrive there, so that wherever Ai-Naidar dwell, they might have their tea.
It is the core of many words and phrases: let aidaremethil, or "tea-plant symbiosis," is the state of working with another to achieve a mutual success. That success-gained-with-others also has a word: letemereth. Letshilva means something like "complete usefulness," and describes when every last particle of utility has been wrung from something; part of the tea vine and its partner, the berries, the leaves and as every part of both plants is useful to one another, so in letshilva everything contributes without holding back. Ashlet is the word used to describe someone who works harmoniously with another, complementing their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses. And ieleten is the word used for the failure that comes from attempting to make one's way alone in a situation or environment where one absolutely needs aid.