Friday, October 28, 2011

That Wonderful Brew

My mom is a big coffee drinker, but looking back at those years I was growing up, I can't remember a time when we didn't always have tea in the house as well. Usually it was the Celestial Seasonings herbal teas, all decaffeinated and good to drink in the evenings or when one is sick. Despite early access granted by grandparents (or maybe because of it), I have never really picked up a liking for coffee. I did, however, develop a love of tea that is still with me to this day.

In fact, I think it would be more than fair to say that my love of tea has only continued to grow along with me. A few years ago I was presented with some health issues that, while I won't go into them, did lead to me cutting out carbonated beverages from diet completely (along with alcohol, sadly--I still miss margaritas sometimes). I used to drink a lot of soda, usually at least two cans a day. I mean, I wouldn't have a morning cup of coffee, I would have a morning can (or bottle) of Coke. That was just how I rolled. After I had to give up soda, I was pretty much down to just water and tea. Iced tea had long been my go-to drink in restaurants (I had too often ended up with a flat or watered down soda), but my consumption of it increased exponentially in the wake of giving up soda. Thankfully, living in Texas, sweet tea is not hard to come by here.

I also started replacing that morning soda with a morning cup of hot tea instead. Now it is unusual if a day goes by for me that doesn't start and close with a hot cup of tea, usually with a sweet iced tea (or more) somewhere in the middle. Don't worry, lots of water in there too. I am never far from a bottle of water. Gotta stay hydrated, yo.

Because my consumption of tea has increased so much as I have grown up, my tastes have evolved as well. For one thing, I have realized that I don't actually like most herbal teas.* Generally I prefer black tea, though there are some greens and whites I really enjoy as well. My longtime favorite tea has been Twinnings' Lady Grey, a lighter take on the traditional Earl Grey. It's a very citrusy blend and a little bit harder to find in American stores (though it is readily available online). It also makes a very wonderful iced tea. My summer pregnancy got much less miserable when I remembered I had a large stock of decaf Lady Grey and an iced tea maker in my cabinet, let me tell you.

I tend to buy Lady Grey in bulk, however, since it is so difficult to find in stores. I have learned I have to be careful not to wear myself out on it, so I have been seeking out other teas to try. This has led to my discovery of "gourmet" teas. I fear I have been spoiled for life. Two stores in particular have caught my interest and I thought I would share them with you, in case anyone else out there is looking for the perfect cup of tea to warm themselves now that the weather is turning cooler.

First, there's Teavana. My mother sent me a blended tea from them last Christmas and took me to their brick and mortar store when I visited her in June. At the store I bought some cookies that turned out to be completely fabulous. When I got back home to Texas I checked to see if they had a location near me. Sadly, they don't. But they do have a very good online store. I wanted to buy more of the cookies, which they were out of, but ended up buying about fifty dollars worth of tea. I have placed two more tea orders since then (not to mention stocking up on those cookies). I am hooked y'all.** Their Earl Grey Creme has actually supplanted Lady Grey as my all time favorite tea. It is absolutely delicious. Just taking a whiff from the canister is enough to perk me up. Teavana also sells lots of different tea makers and tea cups and some gorgeous tea pots. Believe it or not, I actually am practicing quite a bit of restraint when I shop at their site, there is just so much from them I would love to buy.

The other place I have discovered is the Spice and Tea Exchange. They have several locations as well, and I found them through their store in the stockyards after my mother-in-law brought me an article about them. My husband actually works right across the street from the Stockyards Station, so this is a rather convenient stop for me when Baby Girl and I are visiting him for lunch. We took a friend who is just discovering tea there this past weekend and she came away quite happy. As their name suggests, they carry spices as well as tea. Walking into that store is an aromatic delight, let me tell you. It's a great stop if you like to experiment in the kitchen as well as if you're a tea drinker. The first tea I bought from them was their Almond Cookie tea, which was wonderful. Sadly, it has been discontinued, however, but I hear good things about their Chocolate tea...

So if you're in the market for a warm drink as autumn rolls around us, but you don't feel like coffee, might I humbly suggest some tea? Hell, if you're in the neighborhood, stop by. We can have a tea party. I'm already brainwashing indoctrinating introducing Baby Girl to the wonder that is sweet iced tea, so hopefully soon she'll be big enough to try hot tea too. Then it's only a matter of time before those after-school mother-daughter afternoon teas become a reality...

*Bigelow's Mint Medley is still my go-to tea when I am not feeling well though. I don't know of anything that settles a queasy  tummy better. 
**It is wort noting that I probably wouldn't enjoy all of these loose leaf teas nearly as much without my IngenuiTea from Adagio Teas. I don't care for Adagio's tea as much as Teavana's, but this brewer makes preparing loose leaf tea a breeze, it truly does. If you are looking for a good gift for someone you know who enjoys tea, this would be a great one to consider.

No comments:

Post a Comment