Variety Is the Spice of the “Tea Life”

Chinese Green Teas - Dragon Pearls
Chinese Green Teas - Dragon Pearls

The whole point of living the “tea life” it to escape the doldrums of a daily beverage routine with a variety of teas. Like the spices that enliven the taste of our favorite dishes, these teas enliven our meals, our mid-afternoon break from the day’s toils, and that special time before we head off to slumber when we sip, reflect on the day just ending, and set our thoughts straight for the day ahead.

Spices in our food serve to bring out certain flavors in the ingredients. They also serve to create specific flavor sensations: hot, mild, sweet, sour, etc. Indian foods use spices like cardamom, coriander, cayenne, ginger root, cumin, garlic, anise, and mustard seed. Mexican foods use cilantro, chili powder, garlic, etc. Moroccan foods make use of cinnamon to enhance the flavor of meat dishes, giving them a taste most unique and, to me, enticing. Good ol’ Texas chili is brimming with garlic, chili powder, onions, and (oops! that’s a secret!).

Teas can be as specific. Green teas from China that hubby and I have tried are far less grassy than some Japanese green teas (Senchas). Black teas from Assam, India, are very different from black teas processed from tea leaves grown and harvested in Darjeeling, India, and certainly different from black teas from China, Kenya, and even Ceylon. Just as Szechuan is different from Mandarin in Chinese food and a peanuty Thai satay is different from Korean barbecue, a Formosan (Taiwanese) Oolong is different from a Chinese Ti Kuan Yin Oolong.

Having a couple of cups full of one on Monday, another on Tuesday, a third on Wednesday, and so on, makes each day of the week a tea adventure and keeps my “tea life” spicy through variety.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some tea favorites, such as Lover’s Leap Darjeeling, Indian Spiced Chai, White Eagle Long Life, Nine Bend Black Dragon, and Monk’s Blend. These teas are some that have become “standards” in my ever burgeoning tea pantry. In addition, hubby and I enjoy a daily potful of one of the bagged teas that are standards in the UK and here: Typhoo, Devonshire Tea, PG Tips, and Barry’s.

Trying new teas adds further to this spiciness, sometimes pleasantly and sometimes with less-than-desirable results. Most herbals are certainly in the latter category, especially Rooibos (red bush) from South Africa, which is growing in popularity everywhere except in our house. Black teas tend to be in the former category, especially if they don’t have flavorings added, since the flavorings aren’t always what they are purported to be. Green teas, Oolongs, and whites have been a mix of the two categories, whether flavored or not, with some in each category.

Which teas you choose to spice up your “tea life” will depend on your personal taste and your sense of adventure. It’s certainly easier, cheaper, and safer than embarking on trips to distant lands. Go for it!

Make sure to check out Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!

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