Last week in that tea post, I mentioned not being a big fan of green tea, but there are other versions of green tea that I do enjoy.
If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
if you are depressed, it will cheer you;
if you are excited it will calm you.
– William Ewart
I feel this quote. I drink hot tea all year long. It is always good, perfect, soothing, and inspiring.
I also included this picture of green tea mainly because I typically do not like green tea; I’m a black tea drinker. The first Lent that I gave up something, though I chose to give up Diet Coke. I didn’t know how it was going to go. I drink Diet Coke several times throughout the day. A friend recommended the green tea with jasmine, and said that it would stem cravings. I think they were thinking with the caffeine withdrawal, but caffeine doesn’t really affect me. At home, I’m caffeine free with soda. However, it would give me something to drink in the morning when I shouldn’t have been drinking soda anyway, but sometimes was known to.
What teas are your favorites and what would you recommend trying?
January is National Tea Month. Sometimes it’s nice to get a random reminder of the wonderfulness of tea. After the holiday season, I’m ready to get rid of the sweets and sugar-filled drinks like hot chocolate and eggnog, and even hot apple cider. I’m not a coffee drinker, so tea is my real go-to for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is taste.
It’s getting better, but in the past, I have found it somewhat difficult to find the teas I like to drink. I went through a spate of only drinking chai masala or ginger tea. Unfortunately for me most ginger teas come in lemon flavor or green tea, and I prefer black tea as my base. With this first post, I want to share some of the places you can find teas nationally.
1. The Fresh Market has a wide variety of teas from your basic Lipton to imported from the United Kingdom, India, and China. They have nearly every flavor that you might want to try or add to your repertory of tea selections.
2. Adagio is a mail order tea company that has a fandom section. I’ve enjoyed teas from them in themes of Harry Potter, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and more. They also have the opportunity to blend your own although I haven’t made use of that yet. They also offer reasonably priced sample tins so you can try something new.
3. PGTips is quintessentially British tea. Best taken with milk added first in a hot cup. Find Douglas Adams’s guide for making the perfect cup of tea. It is worth the Google.
4. Twinings has a wide variety. My favorites are the British and Irish breakfast and afternoon teas: English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Scottish afternoon, Prince of Wales, Earl Grey, Lady Grey among others. Afternoon teas tend to have less caffeine so less chance to keep you up at night.
5. Stash is the only place that I was able to get my Ginger Black Breakfast Tea that I originally and randomly found one box of in an overstock store.
Check your local directories for small tea shops or tea blenders and sellers. They are more and more popping up in localities around my neighborhood, and also probably yours as well.
Please add your own in the comments.
Tu Hwnt I’r Bont Tearoom, Llanrwst, Wales
Masala Chai is a black tea brewed with a variety of spices, and varies depending on the person making and drinking the chai. The word chai is simply the Chinese word for tea, although Western tea drinkers will often refer to this drink as Chai Tea or Chai Tea Latte, which is more than a little redundant.
Masala chai is originally from India and its surrounding environs.
There is no standard recipe for masala chai although all have four basic ingredients:
The recipe I used was adapted from this DIY Chai Spice Mix recipe and in addition to milk, sugar, cardamom, and ginger listed above, I also included allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper.
I put all of the fresh, whole spices into a blender and once they were blended and mixed, I added any powdered spices that I had. I followed the ratios of the recipe above.
My brewing recipe was as follows:
2 cups of milk, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the masala chai mix, 3 black tea tea bags (you can also use loose tea, whatever your preference). I set the saucepan to medium and brought it slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally. One word of advice would be to cut off the strings from the tea bag. This may let the tea loose, but I found some bits of string slightly caramelized with the sugar, so I would avoid that next time.
Once the tea was boiling, I poured it into a Pyrex measuring cup and poured it through a tea strainer into a mug. There was a lot of sediment between the spices and the loose tea, but the strainer did its job and it was a delicious, warm cup of spicy tea for a cold, winter morning.
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A second method of brewing would be to make your tea as usual. Steep your tea bag, and add 1/2 tsp (or your preferred amount) of chai masala powder with any sweetener you like (or leave out the sweetener). Stir well and I would still pour through a strainer.
PG Tips was started in 1869 (this year is its bicentennial) by Arthur Brooke in Manchester, England. It was named for its pre-digestion properties as a digestive aid until after World War II when regulators ruled that tea did not help in digestion. The tips in the name referred to the part of the tea leaf used.
Tea in stringed bags were launched in 1985 and the current triangle/pyramid shaped bag (no strings attached) were offered in 1996.
Knowing the importance of adverts, Brooke’s slogan was released early in the history of PG Tips:
“Good tea unites good company, exhilarates the spirits, banishes restraint from conversation and promotes the happiest purposes of social intercourse.”
Today was the first time I’ve read that slogan, and it very nicely sums up the experience of tea and sharing a cuppa.
While I was in Wales, I drank tea every morning, sometimes several times during the day. At home, I normally prepare my tea in a mug, but what I discovered in Britain was that it was so much better steeped in a pot and then poured into a warm cup. Glorious. Decadent even. I was fortunate to find a wonderful tea cottage in Llanrwst. It was set on the other side of the bridge alongside the Conwy River. It was beautiful, homey, and very tea cottage-y. I ordered white tea with scones and jam.
I re-created that wonderful repast this week for my breakfast, using my last bag of PG Tips. Drinking it I realized how perfect it tasted and I’ll be going out to get some more!
I’d like to share an anecdote from when I was visiting a friend of mine. He is originally from Wales (which is relevant), but now lives in the US. I was visiting him and his roommates. He and his wife had gone to sleep, and a few of us stayed up for tea. Friend #2 set the water to boil in the kettle on the stove. We were talking and when the kettle began to whistle we ignored it, finishing up the thoughts we were making. Out of the bedroom comes British friend, says nothing to us, turns off the kettle, pours the boiling water into the waiting cups and goes back to bed. The rest of us watch this with mouths open. He did not remember doing this in the morning. The tea is strong in the British.
Every morning, he made me a cup of PG Tips with milk and sugar and I’d discover it on my bedside table. It is still one of my warmest memories.
The Walking Dead Daryl
This tea consists of mambo, honeybush vanilla, mocha nut mate, cocoa nibs, and cloves. This blend is perfect both for a morning, get ready for work drink or a late afternoon treat. It’s a dark blend that works with and without milk. (I prefer without.) The cocoa nibs give it a bit of sweetness, but adding sugar perfects the flavor in my opinion.
This was a gift from a close friend. It came in a sampler box with four other teas from four other fandoms. Also included in this custom made set were Loyalty House Blend (Harry Potter/Hufflepuff), Supernatural Survival Tea (Supernatural), Donna Noble (Doctor Who), and Civil War Remedy Tea (Captain America). What was so very funny about the Civil War one was the box was a light sepia color and had a picture of an old-fashioned medicine bottle. When I didn’t look very closely at it, it took me until I actually tried it to realize that it wasn’t tea in retrospect of the American Civil War, but of the Captain America movie subtitled Civil War.
Each tea has its own unique flavor that is ver reminiscent of the fandom and characters it is made to represent. These are all loose teas, but for those new to loose tea, there are make your own tea bags, tea balls, tea strainers, and other methods for brewing loose tea.
Fandom teas is something of a specialty of Adagio, although they also offer all of the regular teas and tea blends that you might be looking for as well as accessories and teaware. Their teas are reasonably priced as is shipping and they run sales throughout the year. It’s definitely worth a visit to their website to see what interests you.