Lately, I feel like a super-taster, but with smell.
Today I was so lucky to visit a tea farm and also be given some amazing wines and whiskey to observe; all of which touched my senses in a way I CAN describe, and well.
Almost a year and a half back, I quit smoking. It’s not the first time for me to quit. I’ve been smoking on and off since the age of ten. And, mostly ON, since the age of 16. For those of you that don’t know my age, that means I’ve been smoking, mostly, for 20 years.
It’s nothing I planned. For much of this time I didn’t even identify as a smoker. I was just a person that was smoking, but Would quit, one day. Then, not too many years ago, I read somewhere that none of us is a smoker, naturally. None of us are born so addicted to nicotine and the habit of smoking that it defines us. But, smokers like myself often get to the point where we identify as a smoker. Saying things like “I’ve done it forever.” Saying things like “fuck off” to people who criticize this “part of us”. Smoking around babies and children and non-smokers becomes common. I became blind to the effect on myself and those around me.
For example, near the end of my time as a smoker, I was finding myself getting VERY sick with some type of lung infection or cold. At least once, if not three times per year. Another example, my nasal discharge, aka boogers, were often brown or black and featuring blood. But, the behavior of smoking was part of my life and it was hard to see it as the cause for these things.
All of this is to say, recently I have begun tasting coffee, tea, wine, whiskey again. But, it’s feeling as if I have never had my full sense of smell before now. The floral smells that people were describing in coffee, I could smell them to a small degree, but lately it’s as if there is a heady and deep flower before me. A wine that was shared with me, tonight, and a tea which I drank today were both so jasmine that I found myself sniffing the glasses in which they were served. I thought someone had been wearing a scented lotion or perfume before handling my glass, but this was not the case. I’m finding images appearing in my minds eye. I’m finding the deeper complexity of these very complex beverages.
I’m so thankful for my ability to smell. Many of us are born with this sense, but few of us take the time to use words to describe what goes into our mouths. My coffee career has involved grading and judging coffees and I believe I did a good job in this, but I also see how much of the intensity of these aromatics which may have been missing from my journey.
If you are a daily, habitual smoker, I love you. I just want you to know what I found myself to be missing out on, in case you want to join in on this deeper sensation. One plus of being a smoker and quitting, while being a sensory analyst is discovering something that I didn’t even know I was missing.
If you need help quitting, please reach out. I can offer the following resources or just some plain old positive encouragement.
Having a loved one support without judgement was so important to my process. I want to thank Ahmad Abojaradeh for believing in me and supporting me without requirements or judgments.