Let me tell you about my Tea obsession.
Right now, tea is a significant part of my life. It hasn't always been though. As a child my mom would only give me tea if I was sick, especially when I had a cough or sore throat. The tea would come from a bag and she would load it with honey and lemon juice. We have this family recipe for a soup/porridge deal that, to this day, I refer to as "sick soup" because I always requested it when I had a cold or the flu. Tea was the same, I called it the "sick drink" because those were the only times I would have a cup.
During my Freshman year of College we had these oddly budgeted meal plans that left me with over $25 at the end of the week which I'd have to spend on snacks, drinks, and junk food because the remainder didn't rollover to the next week. One day, during a bout of whatever was going around at the time, I decided I needed some tea. I went down to the Residence Hall convenience store and spent the rest of my meal money on tea bags. Needless to say, I had a lot.
I made myself a cup... which consisted of pouring bottled water into a mug and microwaving it and then a good 5 minute steep with one of a myriad of flavors followed by a 3 generous squirts of honey. It was surprisingly good and for some reason it was unlike anything I ever had during my childhood. I loved it.
There began a 2 month addiction to tea. And then one day I just stopped.
Fast forward about 4 years later. My mom brought my to Argyle in Chicago. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the city, Argyle is actually a street in Chicago which is home to a Vietnamese community. So, when one says, Argyle they are referring to Vietnamese town.
She took me to lunch at this one restaurant and when we sat down they brought us tea. I took a sip and it was bliss. It was the best jasmine flavored tea I ever had. I decided to start up again, so, I bought a few tea bags and had my way with them.
It wasn't long until my addiction subsided once more. I went tea-less for half a year until I was watching Oprah and she had mentioned that every day she has tea and it had become somewhat of a peaceful, calming ceremony for her. She had her favorite cup, and a beautiful teapot, and she would drink her tea religiously. Oprah inspired me, yet again.
It was around Christmas now of 2006, and I decided that I needed a beautiful teapot to make tea drinking my ceremony. My cousins and I were trying something new that year. There are 17 of us and having to purchase gifts for each and every relative is quite a strain on the wallet. The eldest 12 of us decided on doing a Secret Santa type gift swap and I put a "manly teapot" on my list.
I received one (thanks Jenny!) and figured I might as well spend a few extra bucks on some good quality, loose leaf (meaning not in a tea bag) tea as well. I ended up finding a great tea shop near my house and I've been on a tea jag since then.
I'm quite partial to flavored green teas. Green tea with Jasmine is a staple, but, I also love other fruitier flavors. I found this great white tea with freeze dried strawberries. Delicious! I've just recently started drinking some black teas. There's this awesome Almond Cookie flavor that is soooo soothing. Also a baked apple pie tea that taste like a good apple cider.
These are my current loose leaf tea resources.
- TeaGschwender: This shop is near my house. It's only locations are in Europe (mainly Germany) and Illinois. My favorite teas here are Father Morgana (Green), Arabian Night (Green & Black), Strawberry White, and their Jasmine Phoenix Pearls. They also have a great menu of food items in case you'd like to dine.
- SereneTeaz: This is a significantly smaller shop with only one location. They allow you to try samples of any of their teas and offer little glass sniffing jars so you can browse on your own. I've only tried a few of their selections but my favorites are Almond Cookie and Angel's Kiss.
- Teavana: Teavana is found in many locations throughout the US. Something about their teas comes off really artificial and chemical-tasting to me. But, they have great blend ideas in-store. I recently tried their Jasmine Phoenix Pearls with a bit of fruity Rooibus tea and it was delicious. I regularly purchase Teavana's Rock Sugar for flavoring my teas. I used to be strictly honey, but, when you're drinking something with very delicate flavors like green or white tea, the honey completely overpowers any subtleties. I find the rock sugar works best. Honey with black teas works beautifully, however.
So, that's my tea life. Of course, my favorite thing to do while drinking tea is knit. ^_^ See you tomorrow.