i love me some tea.
anyone who knows me could vouch for my interest (ahem, obsession?) with good quality teas. i have green tea stashed at my brother’s house on oahu, teabags in my wallet, in my suitcase (nope, i am not planning on going anywhere!), and i think even at my parents house in michigan, even though i have not been there for years.
tea has always been a part of my life. i have fond memories of making sun tea with my arizona grandparents at their desert house in tuscon, and making sweet iced tea with my michigan grandmother in the summertime. and there was always iced tea at my parents house too, sweetened perfectly, and tarted up with lemon juice (for me and my daddy-o). oh, and don’t even get me started on how much i love bubble tea!
but my tastes have changed over the years from the ubiquitous lipton that caffeinated my childhood, into a broad range of green, black, white, and herbal teas. on my shelf i have my everyday floral green jasmine tea (from frontier co-op’s amazing list), my bulk rooibos (red tea), smoked black tea, spicy chai and organic darjeeling for black tea days, and miscellaneous herbs (lavender, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, basil, rosehips) for DIY herbal teas. my favorite boxed herbal tea is women’s moon cycle by yogi teas. the herby fennel base is blended with dong quoi and chaste tree berries. it helps me with cramps (especially in my lower back) and calms down some of the moodiness of the days before my moon cycle. i highly recommend it for the ladies in your life, moody or not.
did you know that green, black, oolong, and white tea are all the same plant (Camellia sinensis)?
the difference in flavor and color is a result of the processing. white tea is the least processed, and is actually the buds of the tea plant; it is silvery-white and quite fuzzy. white tea has a very delicate flavor- and it pairs well with a rainy afternoon and a good book. green tea is second least-processed. according to frontier, “Green tea is uncured and possesses fresh, grassy, vegetal flavors due to the unique processing. Green tea leaves are plucked, withered, rolled and dried before any curing or oxidation takes place. Green teas have the least caffeine of all true teas.” oolong tea tastes like something between green tea and black tea, as it is only slightly fermented- which means it tastes a little bit like black tea, but has a lighter body similar to green tea. finally, true black tea (think chai, darjeeling, lipton, etc), gets the rich flavor from being withered, rolled, and then dried, which allows for the most oxidation. aside from the delicious darjeeling on the shelf, i love the choice brand russian caravan smoked black tea. it has an intense smokey flavor that will remind you of your last bonfire.
and one more favorite: bancha, or kukicha (also known as twig tea). i met bancha tea when i met the farmer, and i am so glad that it was a package deal. bancha is a tea made from the twigs of the tea plant, so it has lots of antioxidants and benefits of tea, but no caffeine; and it is very relaxing and is thus a great evening tea. bancha is also exceptionally good for your tummy. after a big meal, or if you have general stomach discomfort, a cup of bancha will make you feel much better. one day i had serious stomach cramps and the boyfriend mixed some umeboshi paste (fermented salty plum paste- the kind you get with sushi) into the bancha. it made me feel better almost instantly, and, ah, moved things along quickly, and i felt much better within a very short time.
once upon a time there was an adorable teahouse on oahu (who else remembers teja on 11th ave?). i remember the allure of tea houses i’ve seen around the world: in Ann Arbor, in Prague, in Paris. i flirt with the idea of having my own someday. how charming would that be, a bakery manis teahouse… teahouse manis, perhaps…?