Tea, tea, tea, tea, tea. How I love thee, tea.
I have never liked coffee. Oh, I tried. I've had all sorts made in all sorts of ways but I never could develop a liking for it. The closest I could come to enjoying a cup would be to drown out the flavor with enough sugar and milk and whatever other flavoring I could come up with. I was a coffee fraud and I finally gave it up for good. If coffee were declared illegal tomorrow I'd scarcely bat an eye.
My love affair with tea drinking began in very early childhood. Being a Southerner means I was drinking sweet tea directly after being weaned off baby formula. My exposure to hot tea, however, was pretty much limited to sick times when the prescribed diet for any malady I may be suffering would be hot tea and toast.
Drinking hot tea just for the pleasure of it wasn't something I got into until I was in the fifth grade. It was during that time that my class was studying Japan during social studies class and as a sort of treat or incentive or whatever our teacher allowed us to drink tea twice a week during class. We had to bring in our own cups and tea and sugar but it was something we kids looked forward to - even the boys. I discovered that tea could be great to drink when it wasn't soaked in sugar and poured over mountains of ice or given to settle an unruly stomach.
For years afterwards I drank tea but limited myself to Lipton tea, completely clueless that other teas were in the world. And while there's nothing wrong with a good mug of Lipton tea, there's so much more out there. I set out to learn about different types and blends and what I liked and didn't. Lapsong Souchong with its smokey flavor. The citrusy flavor of Earl Gray. Pleasant Darjeeling. Strong Assam. White tea that's akin to sipping silk. I learned what Tippy Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe is. I fell in love with chai (And please, don't call it "chai tea". Chai means tea. It's like telling people your Cabriolet is a convertable.). I learned to brew a proper cup of tea (Hint folks - hot water from your Mr. Coffee ain't gonna cut it!) and developed my own brand of tea drinking snobbery such as I have no problem with tea in bags (it's only tea that's is broken so fine in the fermenting process that it's not good to sell loose - same tea though) but I have an enormous problem with people drinking tea with the bag still lolling in the cup like some drunken uncle you can't get out of your house. I began collecting teacups and tea canisters (haven't moved on to teapots yet but I can see that coming) and I have wicked dreams of remodeling my kitchen and adding a Samovar - hot water contraption used in Russia and elsewhere to make tea.
Some of my tea likes and dislikes - brands and blends:
~ Messmer Vanilla Chai - great for making your own chai at home and being able to control the sweetner and amount of milk added.
~ Celestial Seasonings Original India Spice TeaHouse Chai - ditto above.
~ Twinings Peach - One of the best peach flavored teas I've had.
~ Twinings English Breakfast - Good morning! And I'll have extra milk, please!
~ Assam tea - Great in the afternoon.
~ PG Tips - One of my favorite all around teas. I have to get it from a British tea shop (with the imaginative name of The Tea Shop) but it's worth the trek halfway across town.
~ Messmer Klassik - Very good German brand of black tea. Makes terrible iced tea though.
~ White Peony white tea - Possibly one of the best things I've ever drank. Complete pain in the ass for me to find though.
~ Bigelow Constant Comment - I really dislike the cinnamon/citrus blend flavor. I just don't really care for citrus flavors in tea unless it's iced. Honestly, I am not impressed with Bigelow tea blends in general. There are so many other brands doing better jobs.
~ Earl Gray tea - Bergamot oil. Yuck.
~ Herbal teas - I never drink them except for medicinal purposes. Chamomile tea for upset tummy and fennel tea for a gassy tummy. I just hate the flavor.
~ Rooibos tea - Well, it's herbal tea so that's a strike against it. And I have yet to find a brand that doesn't have me making one cup and throwing out the rest.
Now if you'll pardon me, my kettle is whistling.