Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cup O' Tea

I'm afraid this post is long overdue. I promised it some weeks ago, but unforeseeable circumstances delayed it. Still, it is here now.

  If you couldn't tell by the title of this post, it is a post about tea! Lovely, lovely tea! What did people ever do before the discovery and wide distribution of tea?! How did they live!
Now, I'm not going to go into the history of tea itself. This post is merely a rambling of my favorite teas, tea/snack pairings, and some tea tips. Okay, there might be a bit of my personal history with tea. I'll try to keep it somewhat organized, but I can't promise anything.

I must first say that my love of tea truly started the first time I went to Poland on a mission trip. We had to drink lots of it to stay warm, it was so cold! And there was a lovely black tea that one of the churches we were working with gave us each morning. I had liked tea well enough before that (especially peppermint and honey vanilla chamomile), but it was that trip and being around my friend Rachel (a fellow tea lover) that made me truly appreciate it.

My only problem is that I can  no longer handle caffeine except in very small quantities. But here are some interesting facts about dealing with that in tea:
  • Caffeine is water soluble, so, if you do not have a decaf tea available to you, all you have to do is steep your tea for 20-30 seconds, then dump that liquid. Steep your tea again for a normal cup, and it will have a much lower caffeine content.
  • White tea has only 1% the caffeine of coffee, green tea has 5-10%, Oolong has 10-15%, black has 20%, and Mate' (mah-tay) has a full 100%
  • Rooibos (African Red Bush) and most herbal teas are naturally caffeine free.
I have three top favorite tea brands: TwiningsCelestial Seasonings, and Teavana. There are other brands I have tried and liked, too, but these are my main three. Although, I must give an honorable shout out to Red Rose brand, as that is my family's all around favorite regular black tea brand- I think it's a Canadian brand.

I love Twinings for their black tea blends. My favorite is their Irish Breakfast Tea- nice dark and hearty with at least three teaspoons of sugar. I also love their English Breakfast, Earl Grey, and Lady Grey teas.

Celestial Seasonings is my go to for herbal. They have such a wide variety it's hard not to find one you like. My favorites from them are Mint Magic, Honey Vanilla Chamomile, Gingerbread Spice (a holiday tea- sorry, it only comes out at Christmas), and Tension Tamer. I also always keep their Echinacea Complete Care and their Tummy Mint teas on hand in the house, too.
I love to pair my Mint Magic tea with Oreos! I know it's not exactly a healthy pairing, and some think it kind of strange, but it's so good! ^.^
The Gingerbread Spice is good anytime of the year, in my opinion, even if it is only available in stores during the holidays. Add a little sugar and a little half and half, and it's a wonderful creamy gingerbread tea late! And why not pair it with a slice of gingerbread cake with whipped cream. ;-)
Tension Tamer should come with a warning for first-time users. Though, it could have just been me.... Its purpose is just what the label says- to help relax tension in the body. I, however, the first time I had it, after only having four little Chinese style teacups (that all together don't even equal a whole mug) of it, got really silly. My friends had to promptly take it away and put me on green tea for the rest of the night. But it's a lovely flavor blend of lemon, mint, and cinnamon. Some people don't like it, but I think it's wonderful! (by the way, that's the only time I ever got like that after having that tea- it never affected me like that since)
Tummy Mint (and other peppermint based teas minus Mint Magic)  is the only one I'll drink completely unsweetened. I was forced to at a hotel once, when there was no honey to be had, and I couldn't use sugar because sweetening an herbal to with sugar makes it lose all its health benefits. So, I had to take it straight...and eventually learned to like it better that way.

When it comes to Teavana, I've not actually had much experience with their teas outside the samples they offer at their stores. But those samples are absolutely awesome! They only sell loose leaf teas, and they have such a unique variety! They even have chocolate teas!!!! They love to give suggestions on tea mixes- where you mix two or three different flavored teas to gain a whole new flavor! They also sell very nice, very good quality (and, yes, very expensive, some of it) tea equipment. I would highly recommend checking out one of their stores, if there is one near you. It's well worth it. If there isn't one near you, their website is still worth a look- even if you do have a store near you, as there is more on the site that isn't in stores.

Some other teas I haven't mentioned....
I have tried one of Celestial Seasoning's white teas and their Madagascar Vanilla Rooibos, and they are very good.
As for somewhat random flavors I like- a good apple cinnamon, mixed fruit, and jasmine (I especially loved this one my friend Rachel fragrant).
Bigalow's Constant Comment is a nice tea, too.
And who can forget a good Chai latte (hot or iced)!

Now, when it comes to iced tea, I like raspberry well enough, but I love peach. What I really love, though, is Fuze Green Tea with Honey and White Tea Orange Blossom (bottles sold in stores). Those are heavenly!
Oh! Did you know, when it comes to hydrating the body, yes you should mostly drink water, but you can sub a couple of those servings with green tea? Green tea is the only beverage that naturally hydrates the body as well (or nearly so) as water. But, of course, water should be your first choice. ;-)

Some of my other favorite things to pair with tea? Milano cookies, toast, chocolate....I guess anything goes, really! (well...almost)

I'm afraid all this doesn't even touch all the different teas that I actually own. 
I suppose those shall have to wait for another day. After all, it is now....



Megan Langham said...

TEATEATEA! I squealed all the way through this post. :D

Have you tried Twining's Darjeeling or their Blackcurrant Breeze? So so good. I don't really care for herbal teas as a rule, but I do love Celestial Seasonings' Honey Vanilla Chamomile just before bed.

Your tea-discovering story was fantastic, too. I don't even remember when or how I first began drinking tea... I suppose it was just one of those habits I slid into naturally a long time ago.

Hurrah for brown joy! XD

Rhoswen Faerie Wrose said...

I know I have had Darjeeling (years ago), but I don't think it was Twining's. Now that I know the caffeine removal trick, I shall have to try it some time.
Tea has been a natural thing in my family, too. My dad drinks it, and his dad, as well as many other members on that side of the family, so I think it was natural that I should eventually drink it too. It just took me until the events I mentioned to actually get into it. ;-)
Strange thing is, my dad loves tea and hates coffee, and my mom loves coffee and hates tea. My brother loves coffee and likes tea, my sister loves coffee and doesn't care fore dad was happy when I started drinking tea and that I don't like coffee, and my mom was a bit disappointed. :-)