Today, folks, let’s talk about tea. Not too long ago, when discussing grief with my homeschooling kids, we talked about how it’s ok to grieve for *anything* that is meaningful to them. One example that I used is my love for tea, and how devastating it would be for me if I could no longer drink tea for whatever reason. I can give up a lot of stuff if I absolutely had to, but tea…? That would be difficult.
Tea, to me, is so much more than a simple drink. It is, essentially, comfort in a cup. It’s warm and cozy, and few things can make me relax better than a good cup of tea and a book. The preparation is also key – heating the water, measuring out the tea, letting it steep for the appropriate time. Adding sweetener and milk, watching them swirl in the cup as I stir…even that part adds to the overall vibe of drinking my tea.
It’s also very complex – depending on how it’s treated, tea can be *so* many things. There is white tea, green tea, black tea. Tea can be smoked, or roasted. It can be herbal (which is actually NOT tea, but a tisane), or a rooibos. It can have spices added to it (Chai, I’m looking at you!), essential oils, or bits of fruit and flowers. Even chocolate gets added to tea at times! Honestly, the options seem endless.
Over the years, I’ve become somewhat of a tea snob. I have my favorites, and when I have to travel (typically, for a gymnastics meet with my daughter), I take my own tea with me. At work, I have a special bag that I keep tea, sweetener, cream, and a special tea spoon in – I just make sure, every couple of days, that all my supplies are replenished. I even have a tea cabinet – I think it probably used to a buffet, but I decided it was better for my tea than silly dishes. It is loaded with tea paraphernalia – mugs I’ve collected, a Japanese tea set from long ago, a Yixing clay tea pot, and LOTS AND LOTS OF TEA. Some were impulsive purchases, some are flavors I wanted to try, and some were specifically purchased as part of a fund-raiser for one organization or another. But some are die-hard favorites, the ones that I try to *always* have on hand.
Up first? Portland Breakfast tea from Smith Tea company. This is the one I take to work with me, and I purchase it in bulk sachets (because loose tea is not very feasible when running a bookstore with no break room). Smith Tea was actually started by Steven Smith, the same guy who started Tazo tea, and the guy knew his tea. He’s passed now, but lives on with Smith Tea and the amazing people still running it. If you happen to be in the Portland area, there are two great tea shops where you can not only drink this, but try their EXCELLENT Sparkling Strawberry Honeybush. It’s light and refreshing and delicious. But for a really good, everyday kinda tea? You can’t go wrong with Portland Breakfast.
The second company that I tend to frequent is *also* local to me, and I LOVE THEM. There are three teas I tend to get there, though it’s not uncommon for me to come home with others. The first is my standard, every-day-I’m-not-at-work tea that I purchase in bulk leaves. It’s not uncommon for me to start the day at home with 2-3 cups of their English Breakfast. I used to be a die-hard fan of another brand that I ordered, but then I was able to compare their tea with Jasmine Pearls’…and there really was no comparison. JP’s tea was whole and fragrant, rather than being dusty and dry with little smell. So, I stick with theirs and I’ve not been happier.
The other two teas are both chocolate, though one is actually a black tea and the other is a rooibos. The black tea version is called Cocoa Deluxe, and on a day when it’s rainy and cold, and you need something to lift your spirits – something warm and delicious and comforting? THIS IS IT. Steep it, add a little honey and some milk or cream – then sit back, relax, and let your soul unclench for just a little while.
But, sometimes, those soul-unclenching moments are needed later in the day, and I’m super sensitive to caffeine after about 3pm. Cocoa Rouge to the rescue! A rooibos is perfect for that, giving me the same comfort – but WITHOUT the sleepless nights. I make this the same way, with a bit of honey (or agave) and milk, and it’s a balm before bedtime. The only downside to this one flavor is that it *is* seasonal, so I tend to stock up on it when I can.
I do also enjoy collecting more unusual tea mugs – ones that don’t have “Made in China” stamped on the bottom. It’s something I like to look for when I travel with my daughter, though I also enjoy getting the Starbucks mugs for different locations. One of these days, I’ll have a shelf just for those, but…ah, well. If you’re in the market for a tea set or a mug to go with that excellent tea you just ordered, I *highly* recommend Etsy. There are some talented peeps on there, as long as you wade through the nonsense. It’s also fun just to look at the vintage tea sets sometimes, just to see all the gorgeousness from another way of life. AND…one of these days I’ll get this, just for the grin it would bring every time I use it: https://www.misshavishamscuriosities.com/store/p653/Green_Havisham_Kindly_Fuck_off__Cup_and_saucer.html#/
Do you have a favorite tea, or other drink? I’d love to hear about it – I’m always open to expanding my horizons!