Did you ever wonder how it came to pass that red and green are the dominant colors of Christmas? I never thought about it until I started writing this article but here’s what seems a well-researched and sensible explanation for how it came to be.

Santa's tea! (stock image)

Santa’s tea! (stock image)

There’s really no reason I can think of to color-coordinate your tea drinking for the holidays. But if you’d like to, here are a few suggestions:

Unless you’ve lived under a large rock for the past decade you’ve probably heard about green tea and its many wonders but what about red tea? Well, depending on who you ask there may be different answers.

For some people the answer would be rooibos, or redbush, which is grown exclusively in South Africa. It’s not tea in the strictest sense of the word, but for some tea drinkers (perhaps not our Esteemed Editor, though) the strong flavor and deep reddish color makes it a suitable substitute for black tea.

That’s “black tea,” as it’s known in most parts of the world, with the exception of certain parts of China, where it’s known as “red tea.” Which, at this time of year is often used as a base for a variety of flavored blends meant to evoke the holidays. Many of these are chai-like preparations that often include cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg among their ingredients. You might also run across variations such as “gingerbread” black tea or minty concoctions that are meant to evoke holiday treats. For a review of some of the many variations on this theme, look here.

If you’re like me and you’re not so keen on flavored black teas, then the chilly holiday season is a good time for those robust red/black and green varieties – though I confess that I drink the former all year round. One of the best of these (not that I’m biased because it’s my favorite type of tea) is Assam, which in my opinion is the most full-flavored of the red/black teas. A close second would be Yunnan, a variety that hails from a region of the same name in China.

As for the green teas, they’re typically not the first thing I think of when I think of robust teas and I tend not to drink them during cooler months. But if you’re looking for some more full-flavored varieties to get you through the cooler months the strong, somewhat smokey flavors of gunpowder tea might be appropriate. Or you could go with one of the more robust Japanese greens like bancha or kukicha, the latter of which is made from the parts of the tea plant other than the leaves.

Or you could just have whatever this guy is having.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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