You’ve heard about this stuff called “tea.” You want to try it. But where do you start? Well, the obvious answer is to start at the beginning, but that’s not very helpful. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and take a good look at what will be helpful.
I’m one of those people who, when planning a trip, likes to plot out my route. The first step, of course, is picking a destination. All well and good for a road trip, but how do we apply this to tea? One approach is to pick a reason to drink tea and let the rest follow.
Here are a few scenarios:
Quiet time — We all need a bit, away from the hustle and bustle of a busy life. With this as your destination, your starting point is to prepare a cuppa tea and perhaps a little something to nibble. Try a sipper tea like White Eagle Long Life, a mild tasting white tea, to calm the tumult of your world. Of course, there are lots of others, especially teas that you can steep several times. Pu-erhs and oolongs are top of that list. A bit of fruit, chocolate, your favorite cookie, or a yummy cupcake are good go-withs. (Of course, if you have some cold pizza or eggrolls in the refrigerator, they would work, too.) Your next step is to select a cozy corner to yourself, and a bit of time (often the hardest to do).
Something to share with friends — To reach this destination, start by selecting a tea you can prepare by the potful (anywhere from 2 cups to 6 cups). Lots of teas are suitable. There will usually be plenty to share with a group or with that special someone — or even just hog to yourself. There are breakfast blends, afternoon blends, and classic blends, along with teas like Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling or Borengajuli Estate Assam. Don’t forget to bake up a batch of scones, served with clotted cream and jams.
Connect with the ancient tea gardeners — Time travel without the DeLorean or your very own Tardis. Your starting point is selecting some very special teas that continue to be processed as they have been for thousands of years in their traditional manner. Dragonwell, Tie Kuan Yin, Golden Bi Luo, or perhaps some Dragon Pearls or Gunpowder green tea are some options that come to mind. You’ll be enjoying something that is very much like what was enjoyed by emperors and their courts in China when the best teas were reserved for them.
Something new to learn about — You don’t need to board one of those obnoxious yellow school buses with their squealing brakes and billowing diesel fumes to reach this destination. Neither is this like school lessons and homework. It’s just learning something new for the sheer joy of it. With that knowledge comes a deeper appreciation of this versatile and complicated yet simple beverage. Start by reading about the tea bush (Camellia Sinensis), its varietals, and then about the different ways the leaves are processed to produce different styles of tea. From there, select a tea or two that you haven’t tried before, just for a new experience.
An alternate beverage — Something to drink instead of beverages not as healthy, such as coffee or colas (sodas), yet tasty and refreshing. A most worthy destination, since your health is quite important. Lower in caffeine than coffee, and free of the carbonation in colas, tea is a perfect beverage, balancing stimulating caffeine (at a relatively low level vs. coffee) with theanine, which soothes. The varieties of teas will also provide you with just about any flavor combination you could prefer.
Each of these starting points will lead you to the destination of your choice and in a most entertaining and fulfilling manner. Enjoy!
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