I've plotted my life with 32,000 teabags
So, while others have drawers full of written reminiscences, this 44-year-old has old suitcases stuffed with more than 32,000 used bags.
‘I love drinking tea and I save the teabags because it’s a way of marking the days – it’s better than a diary,’ she said.
The mother of three has perfected her tea-related logging technique over the past 11 years. First, she has her cuppa then dabs the used bag on some paper.
She then numbers the bag and sometimes notes down who she drank the tea with and anything interesting they discussed.
She then dries the tea bag in the sunshine or on a radiator before storing it in one of her three large suitcases.
‘They do smell a bit but I find it quite comforting. Sometimes friends think it’s a bit weird or eccentric and my kids just say, “It’s mum and her tea”,’ said the PhD student from Portsmouth.
She even fishes teabags out of the bin to put in a special box she carries if she is enjoying a cup with a friend who is unaware of her craving.
Ms Gaal-Holmes said she sees tea-drinking as a ritual and usually drinks between six and ten cups a day.
‘Sometimes at night I can’t wait to get up in the morning because I am so looking forward to that first cup of tea,’ she said.
‘I like good strong tea with milk – like English Breakfast or Assam and occasionally Earl Grey. Ideally I will make it in a pot, have it in my special cup and dip chocolate in it,’ she added.
Ms Gaal-Holmes – whose favourite quote is by T’ien Yiheng and reads: ‘Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world’ – has put a case of her bags on display at Portsmouth’s Eldon Gallery.