When I was a little girl, my mom and I used to have tea parties while I did my math. It sure did make math much more pleasant. Somewhere between eighth grade and ninth grade, I moved from a casual tea drinker to a “must. have. tea.” drinker. I never really liked coffee, so while other friends were sneaking coffee from their parent's carafes, I was enjoying hot tea in the morning while my Dad drove me to school with his cup of iced tea. From around the time I was fourteen, I have started almost every morning with a giant mug of black tea with two teaspoons of sugar and a splash of two percent milk. There are qualifications for said giant mug - it must be cozy-able. The handle must be big enough for me to slide four fingers through and I must be able to wrap both hands around the entire mug. This is serious business.
In my college years, the caffeine intake grew to 3-4 cups a day. Now I’m down to a morning cup of black tea, often an afternoon caffeine burst, and almost always an evening herbal tea. In fact, evening herbal is becoming as much a part of my winding down as my morning cuppa is essential to my waking up. I read somewhere recently that the importance of drinking tea or coffee is as much or maybe even more about the psychological impact of a routine than about the actual waking or calming elements it contains. Interesting food for thought.
After all of these years of drinking tea, I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve learned what I like and I’ve learned what I really don’t like. I often get asked what types of tea I like... and it is in that question that people discover how dedicated I am to my tea. So here is a little bit of my heart... as well as a little bit of my research.
1. Fortum and Mason - My mom and I used to find this tea in little kitchen shops and then one day it simply disappeared from stores. Recently I googled it, novel idea, I know, and discovered that Williams Sonoma is now the exclusive American carrier of this brand. I am currently drinking their Breakfast Blend every morning and I am still admiring it’s smooth flavor after two months. (One of my girlfriends bought it for me for my birthday and I am forever indebted to her...) The Royal Blend is also delightful and I’ve been eyeing their Wedding Breakfast tea for sometime now. At $15.95 a can, this is the highest end tea I drink, but it is really worth it. A can of this tea lasts me just over a month when I drink two cups a day. That’s a lot longer than a pound of freshly roasted coffee beans lasts my husband! When I started drinking this tea again, I had a difficult time keeping my pots of tea from getting too strong. Now I’ve found that about 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons of tea leaves is perfect for a pot of tea that I plan on drinking throughout the course of a few hours.
2. Harney and Sons - I also love Harney & Son’s loose leaf tea. When I purchase their tea bags, I usually use two per cup because they can be a little weak. Harney & Sons has amazingly flavored black teas. Their Hot Cinnamon Spice is the ultimate fall tea and I simply cannot get through the Christmas season without the Holiday Tea blend. One of my girlfriends recently discovered the Paris tea which contains carmel. It is an absolutely delightful dessert tea. Harney & Sons is available at Target, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. If you live in Austin, Blue Baker serves this hot tea!
3. Taylors of Harrogate - This tea also comes from England and they have many varieties of black tea. If you are wanting to taste test good teas to discover whether you like rooibos, darjeeling, different varieties of breakfast teas, green teas or even white teas, Taylors of Harrogate is a great place to start based on the price point, the size of their tea bags, and accessibility. Both their English Breakfast and Yorkshire tea are an easily acquired black tea. You can find their teas on Amazon, at World Market and sometimes even at TJ Maxx. I like to buy my Taylors of Harrogate tea in bulk from Brands of Britain. They routinely run 20-25% off sales!
4. Traditional Medicine - Another one of my girlfriends bought me the Traditional Medicine peppermint tea as a birthday gift. Drinking a cup of this tea has now become an evening ritual! Out of all of the peppermint teas I’ve tried in my life, this one is hands down the best. It has a deep body to it without an overwhelming amount of peppermint. Drinking a cup of this tea has now become an evening ritual! I’ve been doing some reconnaissance on this brand when I go to the store and they have so many different herbal flavors and also very specific blends for things such as breastfeeding or constipation. I recently purchased their raspberry leaf tea (which is apparently good for female organs) and have found that it is moderately earthy and perfect when blended with a teaspoon of honey. This brand is everywhere - your local grocery, Target, Amazon, even Whole Foods! If you don’t find the flavor you are looking for at one store, check another. It seems like stores are just now testing these to see what will sell well. I have seen a varying range of selection at stores here in Austin.
5. Celestial Seasonings - There are so many reasons to love Celestial Seasonings. Childhood memories of evening cups of tea at my grandmother’s are perhaps my number one. If I said I wasn't sleepy, she would make me a cup of the Sleepytime tea. The little bear in his nightcap and nightgown on the packaging definitely made the chamomile tea way more appealing than it actually was. Celestial Seasonings also has great sampler packs for anyone who wants to try a variety of herbal or black teas or gets bored before the end of a box of tea bags! My favorite is the lemon zinger with a little bit of added honey. It’s my go to any time that I have a scratchy or sore throat! Celestial Seasonings is usually available at every US grocer.
Do you have a favorite tea that isn’t listed here? I would love to hear about it and add it to my rotation!!