The Dichotomous Key of Tea

January 20, 2014

It’s no secret that caffeine is a major food group for writers, and my favourite source is chocolate tea. The current contents of my tea cupboard:


This isn’t excessive, is it?


organized in descending order of caffeine content, because the scientist in me likes to classify things. Which comes in handy when I’ve got a guest for tea. Rather than overwhelming company with the full spectrum of choice, I use my very own dichotomous key.

Dichotomous keys are a series of paired alternatives that scientists use to classify and identify living things – by sequentially choosing between each set of options, you can clearly identify a species, even if you’ve never seen one of its members before. Or, in this case, arrive at the perfect cup of tea for any occasion. Here’s an example of how it works, with choices in blue:

1a. Caffinated. Go to 2.

1b. Decaffinated. Go to 3.

2a. Black. Go to 4.

2b. Green. Go to 5.

4a. Black with fruit-flavour. Go to 6.

4b. Black without fruit flavour. Go to 7.

7a. Earl Grey.

7b. Chai. 

But Lindsey, you’re saying, what if I want coffee? If that’s the case, you may need to start the key in someone else’s house…

What’s your favourite source of caffeine? Does your tea cupboard overflow like mine does? Have you ever used a real dichotomous key?

Starting January 27, Mother Daughter Book Reviews is hosting a Fox Talk blog tour! I’ll be visiting with bloggers all around the world, and one commenter will win a $25 Amazon gift card and a Skype visit to a school or library of their choice. Stay tuned for the full schedule.


4 Comments on ‘The Dichotomous Key of Tea’

  1. First dichotomous key I ever saw was when I was in elementary school … it was for leaf identification. I can’t remember all the steps, but it was things like edges smooth or serrated, veins symmetrical or offset (wrong language, but you get the idea) … and if you followed it to the end, you knew exactly what kind of leaf was in your hand. I loved it! I immediately looked for ones that would answer “what kind of bird is that?” “What kind of animal is that?” etc. and was disappointed not to find them. My little brain still organizes information that way … sometimes. 😉

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    1. Elementary, really? The first time I remember using one was university. I loved it, though – so logical!

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  2. You are such a geek!! I have two kinds of tea – Tetley regular and Tetley decaf. I drink tea rarely. One is in a can (regular) and the other in the box it came in (decaf). I drink coffee, but only a fraction of what I did when working!! One mug a day now in the morning is pretty much it, whereas at work it was from time I got there until time I left. Constant.

    And yes – have used dichotomous keys for many botanical and invertebrate courses and field sampling excursions. I’d never have thought of organizing my cupboards with one though!!!

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    1. Hey, if you’re going to be a geek anyway, you might as well put your nerd-skills to good use! 😀

      Reply | 

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