Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tea Love



My education and taste evolution in the realm of tea is slow, but steady. My childhood was steeped in Celestial Seasonings, Lipton, and Tetley teas and I'm not ashamed of that. My mother can make the best iced Tetley tea with lime. It's a perfect balance of tea, citrus, and sweetness. I still drink C. S.'s Sleepytime tea from time to time. It's calming and comforting. The illustrations on the box are so cute. I'm reminded of my childhood imaginings about the little bear family on the package. I have to admit though, that when it comes to iced teas, I no longer drink Lipton or Tetley unless I order iced tea in a restaurant. I tossed out an unopened box of Tetley not too long ago. Now my iced tea of choice is by Mighty Leaf (more on that later).



I have been experimenting with teas for about a couple of years now, really since moving to Chicago. I can say that working at Whole Foods Market started this trend because at our store, they sampled teas and coffees on Tuesdays and with my discount, I was able to try out new flavors. Last year, before I bought my air conditioner, I was agonizing in the heat and brewed some Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical and put it on ice. I immediately fell in love. As a hot tea, it is soothing and mellow; iced it's cooling and fruity. The tea bags are pretty; mesh bags that are stitched on three sides. They reming me of my home-ec class when we learned different stitches. The dried tea leaves and flowers are almost like a potpourri and when they are steeped, it's like they bloom. I have also recently tried and love their Chamomile Citrus and have a bag of African Nectar to try. Along with my experimentation with different teas, I use little to no sweeteners. I went from about 2 spoonfuls to barely half of one. Since some teas can be a little bitter, I add just enough turbinado sugar to counteract it.

Iced Green Tea Tropical
(I really don't have a "recipe,", I just remember 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)

5 Tea bags in a pitcher. Bring approx. 4 cups of water to a boil (I have a 1.5 quart tea kettle and I just eyeball the amount of water). 4 Scoops of sugar (I use the scoops that came with my canisters, it's a little more than 1 Tbsp.). Brew for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bags and fill the pitcher 2 the top with ice. Makes 1 great glass of iced tea!

Yeah, a bit corny, but it works. I made a couple of pitchers and noticed my "pattern" and passed it along to my dad who now drinks Mighty Leaf teas.

Last year, I went to the venders expo for Whole Foods and came back home with some really good free tea samples from rishi tea, which is another one of my new favorite teas. So far I really like their Organic Citron Oolong (slightly sweetened), Green Tea Mint (also slightly sweetened) and Organic Lemon Spice. I have yet to try the 100% Organic Snow Buds, 100% Organic Jade Cloud, and Organic Jasmine Tea, but I have those as well.

A few weeks ago, I wandered into the Tea Gschwendner and bought their Edmon's China Jasmine Silver Monkey tea. I'd just asked for some Jasmine tea, and the guy talked me into this particular one. He said something about there being more of a pronounced Jasmine flavor. It is really nice, mellow, and is a more "floral" than any of the other Jasmine teas I've tried so far. I would buy it again, though it was a bit pricey.

Now, as you know, I have samples from adagio teas from their TeaChef program. I cook and bake more with those than drink them.

Disappointing teas, yes unfortunately they are out there. I was in a really cool store, Paper Source when I found these teas with great packaging: Tea Forte. They are in cute pyramid shaped tea bags with little "stems" with a leaf coming out of the top. I tried one flavor I thought I would love, I can't remember which one, and found it to be awful. The packaging is creative, it's just the tea itself is disappointing.

I have to admit that I don't have a teapot. I've been searching and searching for the perfect one. I've looked at simple white porcelain ones to really nice Japanese teapots. But I have to say that no matter what type I look at, I always end up liking the more expensive designs. Just can't help it. So, I'm still searching for the "perfect" pot, something I really like and can afford. Or at least save up for. But until then, I'm content with brewing my teas in the mugs I bought last year at Walgreens. They're nice, simple, and they do the job well.

(All photos were found on the internet via a Google search or from the company's website)

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