For those of you who know me, it’s safe to say I have a sort of tea addiction.
I usually drink multiple cups of tea a day, and I’m fascinated by the wide variety of flavors, health benefits, and cultural practices that are associated with the ancient beverage. Due to the countless different kinds of tea and varying customs in which people around the world consume tea, I could easily write about this topic for hours. But I unfortunately don’t have the time or the extensive knowledge required to write about the entirety of tea culture, so I’ll just explain a few reasons why I personally love tea so much.
The first time I remember drinking tea was in the 7th grade as I sat on a plane flying from London to Boston. Naturally, as the airline was British, the flight attendants served us tea. Naturally, as I was twelve years old, I loaded mine with as much cream and sugar as possible. I realize now that this is not the proper way to drink English breakfast tea, or any tea for that matter, but at the time I was shocked at how delicious the bland looking brown tea had become. Nowadays, I am not a huge fan of English breakfast tea because it doesn’t taste that great without any milk or sugar, and I prefer drinking plain tea. So if I am in the mood for a black tea, my favorite would be Earl Grey because of its smoky, rich flavor.
I truly fell in love with tea during high school when I started waitressing in a tiny Japanese restaurant called Shiro. On slow nights, I found myself constantly sipping their traditional Japanese green tea and growing hooked on the dense, earthy taste. Since then, green tea has been my favorite type of tea, although the absolute best kind of green tea in my opinion is still the pure Japanese green tea leaves, called “Sencha”. I am rarely able to find the same kind of traditional Japanese green tea that I grew fond of at Shiro, but I did buy a small package of Sencha tea once for a whopping $20. I’m usually very cheap, but who wouldn’t treat themselves to a high quality tea, am I right ladies? Also, occasionally I’ll stumble into a sushi restaurant that is traditional enough to serve real tea leaves rather than packaged green tea bags and it’s the best thing ever.
Another important fact I’ve discovered about tea is that loose leaf tea almost ALWAYS tastes better than tea bags because loose leaf tea is natural and free from unnecessary processing and packaging. However, certain brands of packaged teas are actually amazing, including Yogi, Tazo, Touch Organic, and Bigelow. As expected, it’s the cheapest and most popular brands of packaged tea that taste the worst. For example, Lipton’s green tea tastes like actual cardboard. Maybe I’m spoiled because I drank high quality green tea every day for three years at Shiro, but it’s hard to find decent packaged green tea bags. If I’m drinking green tea from a bag, I prefer to have it mixed with ginger to mask any artificial tastes. Tazo’s green ginger tea is my favorite packaged green tea; it has a strong, spicy ginger taste that blends well with the earthiness of the green. Also if I have to drink a fruity-flavored green tea, I’ll always go for mango green tea. I’m not a fan of blueberry, raspberry, or pomegranate green teas because the berry flavor always overwhelms the green tea flavor and it makes me sad.
Yogi’s green tea is pretty average, but they have the best flavors of herbal teas. My favorites are Honey Lavender and Vanilla Spice, and how can you not love the adorable, inspirational messages that come on every Yogi tea bag? As if the delicious tea didn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy enough, the tea bag itself gives you thoughtful advice to make sure your life is on the right track. How charming.
Generally, I prefer to drink tea plain. However, there are a few different ways to spice up your tea and make it interesting. Adding cinnamon to green tea makes for an amazing drink before bed. Adding honey and lots of cayenne pepper to white tea cures a sore throat in an instant. For a sweeter tea, I love organic honey spoons that melt in your tea.
So tea is pretty much the bomb. It tastes heavenly and it’s a great drink to have after meals because it contains no calories and can stop you from over-eating (am I the only one who sometimes gets an urge to eat more after a meal for absolutely no reason?). But honestly, there is never a bad time for tea. There is a part of me that would love to visit Japan and experience the traditional tea ceremonies that are so pivotal to Japanese culture. I’ll be adding that to my bucket list.