Coffee may own a large portion of my heart, but that doesn't mean there isn't any room left for a fondness of tea! There is something extraordinarily therapeutic about a piping hot cup off tea after a stressful day. My favorite tea time is when I'm curled up by a window with a fuzzy blanket, a hot tea, a good book, and rain is pattering against the glass.
Comfort aside, tea cannot be dismissed for its health benefits. Though it can't replace modern medicine, the healing effects of botanicals can be found in a great tea blend for every day ailments. A peppermint tea is fantastic for colds and allergies, ginger is great for comforting an upset stomach, and lavender can be useful sleep aid.
My tea preferences tend to shift with the weather and changes in the seasons. As we are leaving the winter months behind, I'm no longer reaching for spicy chais and wintry baked good flavors. Instead, I'm gravitating towards more fruity and floral scents in preparation for spring and summer.
I find that tastes in tea are very individualized, like scents in a perfume. That is why I am an advocate for skipping the bland pre-bagged stuff and hunting for a good loose tea. Loose teas are often on par with many leading brands of tea, but have far better flavor, shelf-life, and variety. With products like tea, I find I enjoy seeking out small businesses. A small tea shop or apothecary will have very unique options, and a knowledgeable staff can help you pick something that suits your tastes.
My favorite shop is Spirit Apothecary in Bedford, Ohio. Assuming you aren't in Northeast Ohio yourself, note that Spirit does deliver their products with online ordering. All of the teas I'm going to talk about today come from the shop. If you aren't interested in order, you could always try your hand at blending your own with these as inspiration.(https://spiritapothecary.com/)
I've been a patron of Spirit Apothecary for many years now. The shop delivers phenomenal tea blends, as well as loose herbs to blend your own. Along with these products, the shop also caters to any spiritual or religious needs with candles, incense, gem stones, books, and locally made statues and jewelry. If you are ever in the area, I recommend stopping at the cafe and getting the in-store experience!
The tea I've been reaching for the most is Happy Tea. This tea is a burst of flavor and caffeine. This tea comes from a family of holly, which gives it its high caffeine content. Pops of strawberry, apple, hibiscus, and jasmine give it its bright zest. The vibrancy of the flavor paired with the get-up-and-go are what instills the very emotion that this tea is named after: happiness. I like to steep my tea a tad longer (total of 6-8 minutes) in order to get the most potency from the caffeine. This tea tastes best with just a dash of sweetener to really bring out the natural fruit flavors. If this tea doesn't put you in the mood for spring, I don't know what will.
I've been particularly missing summer warmth this past few weeks. Key Lime Ceylon black tea has come to the rescue! A cup of this tea is a breath of fresh air. (Definitely not recommended for those anti-citrus drinkers.) This tea is incredibly fragrant and packs a very sweet and citrus-y flavor. It gets its name from the lime juice and zest, but it also contains lemon and pineapple. Though served hot is enjoyable, I find that this tea makes a fantastic iced tea. Just be sure to steep an extra-strong cup before adding ice, or it will be diluted and watery. (Don't forget to sweeten before adding ice!) One sip of this tea will almost make you think you're lounging on the beach.
For utmost relaxation and mental clarity, I always reach for Oolong. I find its earthiness to be incredibly refreshing. I especially love that Oolong tea leaves can be reused for several cups of tea if laid out to dry. This season, I have been drinking a lot of Green Dragon Oolong. This tea should be steeped strong and left black. If you haven't yet tried to add Oolong to your mix, I highly recommend trying it out!
When most people reach for green tea, I tend to want red. Red tea is made from an African bush called "rooibos." The product of it's steeping is a slightly earthy yet light tea of reddish color. Though I drink red tea year-round, I like the floral addition in Spirit Apothecary's African Rose Rooibos. Typically I like to drink my red teas unsweetened with a hint of vanilla.
Regardless what teas draw you in, I highly recommend searching out a local shop if you haven't already. The switch to locally mixed loose teas will radically change you tea drinking experience. It is especially important to seek out small businesses whenever possible and help your local economy and community grow!
What are some of your go-to teas? Do you change things up by the season, or are you a routine-based tea drinker?