I didn’t always have a love affair with tea. I hated it right up until college, when I started to need both the caffeine and a small, cheap way to relax. We got one of those specialty tea places downtown near where I used to hang out, and I got immediately hooked as soon as I realized there was more to tea than just Earl Grey and English Breakfast. I started trying teas that tasted like ice cream cake and lime gelato, and I fell hard. Now I have more than twenty types of teas in my cupboard- not counting all the single bags I’ve gotten from swaps and hotels- and I even worked at a tea shop for about five seconds this Christmas. Since I’m such an addict, I thought I’d give you guys a peek into what’s in my cupboard and how I like to store my teas.
David’s Tea was my gateway drug into the world of tea. Shopping there is addictive, and I love going in to smell absolutely everything. My favorite kind of tea is rooibus because it has no caffiene and I don’t have to worry about oversteeping it. If you’ve only tried black or green before, I encourage you to branch out and give it a try! If you’re unsure about a tea before you buy it, especially if you shop online, check out its reviews on steepster.com. I don’t always agree with the reviews there, since everyone has different tastes, but majority rules is usually a good way to tell if a tea is an overall winner or a dud, and the community there is very helpful.
I’ve learned a few practical things about tea lately- like how rooibus can be steeped indefinitely but black tea will get bitter within a minute if you leave it in too long. Iced teas require twice the amount of tea because the ice dilutes it. I always have to beware teas with hybiscus in it, since that’s what usually makes a fruity tea that deep red colour- and it’s too bitter and tangy for me if it’s used too much. Tea can be like fine wine in that there’s a lot to learn and so much to taste!
Also, don’t believe any companies or brands when they try to hype the health benefits of tea too much. It’s true that tea does have some health benefits. I know that some good chai will settle my stomach, and I love licorice teas for my sore throats- but the fact is that most health benefits companies claim cannot be substantiated by science. When I worked at a certain tea place I’m reluctant to name (not one pictured here!), I was taught to tell customers that white teas were hydrating, and that oolong teas were great for losing weight, but all teas are hydrating because you’re drinking water and oolong teas are good for losing weight because an ingredient in them (caffeine) is shown to stimulate your metabolism- even though the caffiene in oolong tea is all but insignificant. There are a lot of claims being made that can’t be substantiated by medical studies currently- they may be true, but only some of tea’s health benefits have been proven. Be careful!
The reigning queen of my tea cupboard right now is Alpine Punch by David’s. It’s not currently on sale (I think), but it smells like marzipan and almonds and tastes just as strong as it smells which is rare. It’s also amazing when blended with other teas. I have about 300 grams of it since I adore it so much (for reference, 30g of a tea will usually last me 4 months or so, depending on how often I drink it compared to other stuff in my collection).
As for teas you can actually try, I recommend Stash brand Chocolate Orange! It’s about $4 for a box of 20 bags, and it tastes like those chocolate oranges you get at Christmas. It’s like heaven. Protip: for double chocolateness, make the tea like you usually would and then mix in hot cocoa mix once you take the bag out. Trust me, it’s amazing.
Other favorites: David’s Tea Snickerdoodle, DT Jumpy Monkey, Twinings French Vanilla Chai and Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Fairy blend.
What’s your favorite type of tea? Are you a fellow addict, too? Let me know in the comments!