by A.C. Cargill
What better way to spread the joy of tea than through a tea gift? And what better time of year than now? As one who lives the “tea life,” I tend to advocate for others to learn more about tea and thus improve their enjoyment of this beverage imbibed around the world. So giving tea gifts is a natural thing to do.
Being a tea drinker, I receive gifts of “tea” from well-meaning friends and family, usually consisting of a box of teabags from a local market. Their intentions are good and much appreciated, but the tea is often stale and virtually tasteless. Sometimes, the “tea” is actually an herbal infusion, most frequently chamomile. Definitely, this is an opportunity to do a turn-about, that is, give these well-intentioned gift givers a gift of tea to help them learn and appreciate what you, the tea drinker, already know.
What makes a good tea gift, one that is both tasty and edifying?
Books on tea are the first things that come to mind. You may think that books are a boring gift, but tea books can be exciting — really! They can give the prospective tea drinker much needed information to navigate the murky waters of tea drinking (ooh, bad pun). Some good options:
- Tea-Time at the Inn by Gail Greco, full of great menus and recipes for teatime
- The Story of Tea by Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss (review)
- Tea (Aromas and Flavors Around the World) by Lydia Gautier, with lots of basic information about tea (review)
- The New Tea Companion by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson
Something basic, like a tea sampler set, is a good accompaniment, so the fledgling tea drinker can try teas as he/she is reading about them. A good set might include a few ounces each of these loose leaf teas (in airtight containers):
- A black tea such as English Breakfast or PG Tips
- A green tea such as Chai Green Tea loose leaf
- Possibly a white tea like Stash White Christmas Tea
- Maybe a blend or two such as Holiday Spice or Apple Spice naturally flavored black tea loose leaf
As an alternative, you could stick to just one tea type. If so, make it something special such as Darjeeling or Ceylon. Be sure to include brewing instructions. It’s not rocket science, but brewing techniques are essential to enjoying tea properly, especially one that is new to the preparer.
Don’t forget some tea “hardware,” such as:
- One of those oh-so-cute teapot/cup combo sets (great for a single “cuppa” tea)
- A decorative mug, especially one having a holiday design
- A tea strainer and stand (essential for loose leaf teas)
Or go all out with tea party items, such as:
- A porcelain or fine bone china tea set (teapot, 4 teacups and saucers, creamer, and sugar bowl)
- A tea strainer and a little dish to sit it on
- Four teaspoons
- Optional: a scented candle or two
Teatime is never complete without something to munch. Scone mix, gingerbread mix, etc., are good possibilities. There are also candies like peppermints and chocolates that go well with teas.
Don’t forget a wonderful basket or other container to hold it all (not to mention being reusable — the gift that keeps on giving). Then, wrap it all up in pretty holiday paper and lots of shiny ribbons.
Whatever you select, I’m sure the receiver of this tea gift will be pleased on opening it. If you present it in person, this might be a good time to try one of the teas with them (and a treat or two, of course). Your gift becomes not only a teachable moment but also a great excuse for an impromptu tea party!
Congratulations — you’ve just shared the joy of tea with a friend or family member.
A.C. spreads the joy of tea through her blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!