Tea for me is a sacred thing. I look forward to starting my day with my big blue teacup of my favorite robust black tea. I must admit that I prefer to make a pot of tea rather than simple one serving mug. I enjoy the ritual of filling the teapot with boiling water from my whistling kettle and allowing the tea to steep to perfection in the recipient before filling my teacup. It’s just my thing, I guess I am a bit of a tea snob, but it’s my little pleasure in life from as far back as I can remember. There is a section of my kitchen which houses my tea collection. Among them are pretty tin canisters and wooden boxes of tea varieties which I have collected over the years. There are also glass jars which house various tea bag collections and a wooden tea chest with sections containing every conceivable variety from which to choose for afternoon tea parties.
For breakfast I like a robust English or Irish black tea. I crave the caffeine boost and savor the warmth and well being which cosily envelopes me while I sit in my kitchen first thing in the morning sipping my tea. I am an early riser and there is no one else up at that time except me and my doggies. I can enjoy my cup of tea without any distractions for at least the first 30 minutes of the day. I also enjoy a good Darjeeling or Amman tea in the mornings as breakfast options. All of these black teas have tones which are bold, fulfilling and delicious. My perfect cup of morning bliss is a strong pot of English breakfast tea with a spoon of brown sugar and a bit of milk. It’s so satisfying… the experience just never gets old.
My old faithful favorite teacup and a batch of freshly baked scones for breakfast.
My afternoon tea can be something more flowery and even less intense. I really do not enjoy fruit tea or perfumed teas in the morning. That being said, Earl grey is a good afternoon tea choice. With notes of Bergamot and a lighter blend of leaves, this type of tea is a quintessential afternoon tea to be enjoyed with a slice of cake or a pastry. Another very fulfilling tea in the afternoon is a masala chai. The rich spicy flavors of cinnamon, black pepper and ginger are spot on in my opinion. This sweet milk and spice tea is warming and inviting. If you can drink caffeine late in the evening and still go to bed; masala chai is the perfect thing to drink on cold evenings.
The pleasure of afternoon tea.
I have discovered that fruit teas are absolutely wonderful for making cool beverages and tisanes which you can sip on guiltlessly all day. Teas are healthy and delicious and there are endless varieties of leaves like spearmint, lemon verbena, chamomile, lavender, red hibiscus and so many more which bring their own special appeal. The benefits of drinking tea have long been documented and observed by many civilizations the world over. Sipping teas are associated with well being and good health. The antioxidants effect on the body are said to be quite phenomenal. Drinking teas both black and green are purported to reduce the incidences of cancer, heart diseases, weight loss and help keep your cholesterol in tow. All teas contain caffeine and theanine, but the level of caffeine is lower than that found in coffee.
Making Mint tea infusion
Green teas are made of steamed tea leaves. The properties of drinking hot green teas are numerous and are known for helping in resolving neurological problems as well as clogged arteries. It is highly beneficial to sip on hot teas during a meal to aid in digestion as well as to ensure that fatty foods are more easily digested. Quite contrary, is the fact that drinking cold beverages can solidify fat absorbed during meals. The Chinese have long known the merits of this and as such, hot tea is always the beverage of choice during a meal.
Black teas are made from fermented tea leaves. Similar to green tea, black tea promotes heart health, reduces inflammation in the body, helps lower bad cholesterol, improves gut health and may reduce incidences of cancer. In addition, tea is low in sodium and calories. It also helps to freshen breath and cleanses the mouth. The digestive benefits are also wonderful aiding in weight control.
I have recently been trying combinations of teas both green and black, loose leaf and tea bags and mixing them with fresh herbs from my garden. The combinations are wonderful and I am so excited to share a couple of them with you. All throughout this summer, I have been making batches of ice teas mixed with infusions of fresh herbs which I grow in pots in my garden. As mint was most abundant, it offered so many cool alternatives to my teas. The herbaceous flavor was such a fantastic touch and truly elevated the tea to another level of freshness. I also infused basil and rosemary into several of my iced tea beverages to mix the flavors up.
Fresh garden mint in abundance
A family favorite this summer was fruity iced tea with Red zinger tea bags, raspberry tea, a cinnamon stick and a few bags of black tea. A little lemon squeeze and this was a perfect summer cooler in a big glass filled with lots of ice. We went through so many boxes of tea this past summer, as the fridge always had a huge carafe ready at all times to quench everyone’s thirst.
Mint tea with fresh mint and some mint extract over lots of ice.
In an effort to continue finding new combinations and flavors for teas and infusions, I made this peach and orange flavor iced tea last week and found it so refreshing and delicious. It tasted like summer in a glass.
Peach, Orange and Lemongrass Ice tea
3 peach tea bags
2 black tea bags
1 large orange sliced
1 large orange juiced
1/4 cup honey
2 pieces of fresh lemongrass root bruised and cut into 1” pieces
Lemongrass leaves tied into a bundle
6-8 cups boiling water
In a large heatproof carafe. Add the teabags, lemon grass pieces & lemongrass leaves. Pour the boiling water over to fill the carafe to a little more than 3/4 content. Allow to steep for 15 mins. Remove tea bags and add the honey & orange juice. Stir to combine and allow to cool completely. I left my leaves and lemongrass in the infusion. You may remove, but it strengthens the flavor.
Serve over ice with an orange slice.
Peach, orange and lemon grass iced tea
This was another delicious tisane which I have been making recently. It’s delicious warm or cold, so you can enjoy at anytime of the day. It’s a good digestive tea and is light and tasty. I usually add no sugar or honey, but you can of course add either as per your taste.
I discovered Dragon’s tears tea many years ago and it is such a wonderful delicate blend of Chinese Jasmine green tea. The intricate woven ball is comprised of a young tea flower bud and is encased in another slightly more mature tea leaf. Each grain is meticulously rolled into a ball. When infused, it is an amazing sight as the leaves and flower buds unfold, in a suspended dance in the boiling water as they gracefully infuse the flavors of the water. If you do have the opportunity to try this special tea, savor it and acknowledge how refined a tea it is.
Fragrant Dragons’s tear and Ginger Tisane
20 dragon tears tea balls
2 4”pieces of fresh lemongrass bruised and chopped into 1” pieces.
1 piece fresh ginger cut into 4 slices. Slightly bruise to release oils.
6 cups boiling water
In a large heatproof glass carafe, add the tea, ginger, lemon grass and pour the boiling water over to infuse.
My addition of fresh lemongrass is not only for the flavor factor, but it is an herbal ingredient which possesses several powerful properties which help in our metabolism. Lemongrass aids in digestion and is good for soothing stomach ailments. It is wonderful as an after dinner digestive. Lemon grass is also great for bloating, constipation and indigestion. It is filled with antioxidants and is great for cleansing and relieving fluid retention. In addition to the lovely light herbal lemon flavor which it imparts while infusion in hot water, It grows in abundance in my garden and who could say no to all of the healthy benefits.
I made this iced tea last week and found it so refreshing and delicious.
Zen tea with a twist
3 zen tazo tea bags (lemon verbena, spearmint & lemongrass)
2 tsp Jasmin tea leaves
1 piece fresh ginger cut into 4 slices. Slightly bruise to release oils.
A handful of fresh spearmint leaves
6 cups boiling water
In a large heatproof glass carafe, add the tea, ginger, spearmint and pour the boiling water over to infuse.
Ginger is a warm spice which embodies all of the qualities of wellness, cleansing and clarity. Even though there is a heat emitted from the rhizome, ginger has actually a cooling effect. The addition of ginger to infused tea is just delicious. I love the heightened flavor which the few pieces of fresh raw ginger lightly pounded, imparted on this Zen ice tea. The combination of flavors was perfect and refreshing. This tea can be drunk warm or cold. Each way is equally pleasant in my opinion.
The summer is coming to and end but the days are still warm and the need to stay hydrated and cool is always important. In my part of the world, it is the eternal summer. I will continue to make my tisanes, iced tea and infusions to be sipped all the rest of the year. For those who enjoy them like I do, teas will most definitely continue to benefit those who consume them. Regardless the season, there will always be a tea which will be a perfect accompaniment to the weather.
Peace and blessings to you all.