Whenever I use up the last of the tea in one of my tea tins, it is a sad day. The warning signs were all there. A week before, I had seen the bottom of the tin appear. The day before, I had to really work to get a whole teaspoon out. Then, finally, when I barely manage to coax out enough to make one last cup, and I am forced to admit: this tea tin is empty. If it were anything else, I might rush out to quickly grab some milk, or stop on my way home to pick up some more bread. But with tea, I like to wait until I have a few tins that need replenishing. Then I make a special trip for a shopping spree devoted purely to tea.
I like to think of it as a restock. Restocking my tea is something that I do about once or twice a year, and something that I look forward to immensely. It requires careful thought and advance planning; buying tea is a strategic business, especially when on a budget and short of storage space for tins.
There are always some staples that, when running low, I will automatically include in my restock (Earl Grey, and Gyokuro come immediately to mind). And if I am out of these in between restocks, I will not wait for the next one to buy some more. After all, there are limits to how much tea one can do without. Anyway, the point of the restock is not really to replenish staples; I use it as an opportunity to take a look at my tea collection and change it up a little bit. There are two reasons for doing this. Firstly, I might not have liked some teas I bought last time enough to refill them. Secondly, the decision to restock with different teas may have to do with the seasons; if I am restocking at a different time of year than my last restock, I might go for different types and flavours of tea.
This is what happened with my most recent restock. With the weather shifting, and temperatures and leaves falling all over the place, I angled my restock towards fall, and selected teas that suit my mood more during the colder half of the year. Firstly, I chose a Keemun as a heavier black tea to replace the Darjeeling I had. I enjoy Darjeeling but I am going to see how I get along without it for a bit, and see if it is something I actively miss. (This is a useful aspect of the restock—it can reveal which of your teas really are your staples, which ones your really want around all the time.) Then I selected a couple of teas with ginger, as this is one of the flavours I crave in cold weather. Lastly, I selected a new blend of chai spices that I have not tried before, and I am looking forward to see how it compares with other chai teas I have had. There is a wealth of delicious teas with fall flavours out there, so it was no easy task. However, after much hmm-ing and hah-ing and smelling of different teas, I made my decisions and declared my tea shopping a success. Then, of course, I headed home to put the kettle on and try out some of my new teas!
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