The quiet joys and foibles of solo living.
I took on tea 10 years ago when I had to give up coffee due to anxiety. The amount of caffeine present in coffee now gives me the jitters and makes me feel icky. I would never have thought it possible, back when I used to consume four cups daily and say “I can’t start my day without my coffee!”
But back to tea. Here’s the list of what’s currently in my tea cupboard. I tell myself I’m not allowed to buy any more tea until I’ve drunk this lot! But lo and behold, my collection keeps growing.
1. Dilmah Premium Ceylon Tea. These bags live in my retro tea caddy because this is my standard go-to, the tea I drink most. Dilmah is a good quality brand, which I discovered when I started writing radio copy for the company some years ago. So I know a lot about Dilmah and their ethical approach and methods.
2. New Zealand Breakfast – my local alternative to English or Irish Breakfast. It has a hint of a slightly different flavour, and I also like the packaging, so I pick up several packets whenever I’m in NZ. I use it more sparingly so it won’t run out fast. Mainly I drink this on weekend mornings as I read in bed, or sit at my laptop.
3. English Breakfast – because of course I’m going to have this as well!
4. Chamomile – Every night I either put a spoonful of chamomile buds and leaves into one of my tea infusers, or have a Twinings bag. I don’t like the chamomile bags with added honey or vanilla. It’s gotta be plain and pure.
Unless I have been out drinking wine which has its own sedative effect, I need these little buds to relax my brain, put me to sleep, and keep me asleep. I drink a cup while sitting in bed reading, but as soon as I feel my eyes drooping, it’s lights out and head meets pillow. I call this “riding the chamomile train”. If I miss the train and keep reading, it won’t be so effective and I may be tossing and turning for a while.
5. Earl Grey – Not quite as fond of the tangy bergamot touch for an every day, drink but sometimes I’m in the mood. It feels like an afternoon tea, for some reason.
6. Lipton Decaffeinated Black Tea (bags) – I use this for making chai as an occasional evening treat. In a small milk-warming saucepan, I blend soy or rice milk and water (about 1.5 cups) then I add a decaf tea bag, a cinnamon stick, a couple of star anise, about 5 cloves and 3 to 4 cardamom pods.
7. Masala – Or I use one of these spiced tea bags, purchased in bulk from a local Indian grocery store. The spice blend is just right. Better even than specially-marketed Chai tea bags, which I also have.
8. Rose Vanilla – A nice aromatic flavour, though the flavour enters through the nostrils rather than the tongue, if you know what I mean. The aroma of a cup of tea can be half the fun. This loose leaf tea is from Dilmah’s Exceptional collection.
9. Rooibos with Cinnamon, Tumeric, Ginger and Nutmeg – I’ve just discovered this Dilmah offering. It’s yum, and becoming a favourite evening drink.
10. Pukka After Dinner – a caffeine-free mix of sweet fennel, roasted chicory and cardamom. One of those attractively-packaged teas that I get seduced by in wholefood shops. It has a very slight hint of the sticky-sweet-too-muchness that I don’t like about liquorice tea, but it’s pretty OK I guess.
11. Marigold – Caffeine-free and similar to chamomile in flavour and aroma, but without the sleep-enhancing. properties. Pity; a marigold train would be fun.
12. Feijoa – A gift from New Zealand as I love anything feijoa flavoured. Only thing is, some of the segment is so fine, it slips through my mesh tea ball and creates lots of floaters.
13. Jasmine Green Tea – a Dilmah freebie from work, lurking at the back of the cupboard. I’m not that keen on green tea really, though I will drink it if offered. At home, I find I hardly ever choose it when I have so many other splendid teas.
14. Peppermint – On-hand for tummy aches and indigestion. I have to remember to take the bag out of these cuppas, as mint can go bitter if brewed too long. I should mention, with all my other teabag teas, I leave the bag in the mug all the way to empty.
15. Fennel Calming – I enjoy the subtle flavour of fennel. I add seeds to my breakfast cereal.
16. Herbal mix for sore throat, indigestion and sleep – it has chamomile, some sort of soft bark, lavender, and other ingredients, from the wholefood shop. Nice flavour.
17. Sage – I add a pinch of this dry loose leaf to my chamomile. Sage tea is supposed to help reduce night sweats for us ‘ladies of certain age’, and I’m not entirely convinced of its effectiveness, but I don’t mind the subtle herbal flavour. It complements the chamomile and helps it to go further.
Teas I don’t like and have gotten rid of: white tea, liquorice tea, almond tea, fruit teas such as peach or blackberry.
Tea I had to throw out because I bought far too much and it went off: Dragonball Jasmine. Brought back a large vacuum pack from a holiday in China some years ago. I love watching the tight little balls unfurl into floaty ‘dragon wing’ leaves. But yeah, could not even get halfway through it before its freshness noticeable declined. In hindsight, I should have divided it into decorated jars and given it away as gifts.
Tea drinkers of the world unite! Want to share your favourites with me? Tell me what I’m missing out on?