There is no weekly installment to The Challenge this week; the author of The Challenge has given participants the week off. And so in lieu of your encouragement to get busy in the bedroom, I thought I’d wax poetic about one of my favourite beverages: tea.
My parents are Anglophiles. There is no other way to explain why they don’t drink coffee (it’s tea only), use British teapots (exclusively), eat British foods (most of the time) and pop their pinkies out when sipping from teacups. 😉
In all honesty, my grandfather on my dad’s side came over to the US from England in the early 1900s – his port of call was Boston and he made his way to Michigan to work at a Chrysler assembly plant. So my dad comes by it honestly.
For the longest time though, I didn’t appreciate tea. And if I did drink it, it was herbal tea – you know, fruity flavours that are steeped in hot water … not really “tea,” but close enough for jazz. And then, something switched for me. I’m not really sure what, but I know that it happened quickly and almost imperceptibly.
Mark bought me a beautiful teapot last year – a Japanese tetsubin. It’s enameled cast iron and is gorgeous, but most importantly, it keeps tea hotter than a clay pot that requires a tea cozy. In the teapot is a beautiful device called an infuser – a small, finely-meshed basket that allows me to steep loose teas. I adore it.
As I began experimenting with different teas (looseleaf and otherwise), I found a great little online retailer for teas and other British foods. It’s called EnglishTeaStore.com and is a delightful place to find great deals on amazing teas. They carry all the traditional British brands (PG Tips, Twinings, etc.), British foods, etc., and have both looseleaf and bagged teas at excellent prices. Right now, through the month of March, there is free shipping with a $10 purchase and using code Mar09.
So enough for the commercial – I get nothing out of promoting this little place, it’s just my favourite place to buy British specialities. And free shipping is awesome when I need HP Sauce (in glass bottles – their price is cheaper than local stores, but shipping glass is typically expensive).
But some of my favourite teas from the site include Irish Breakfast tea, which is a stronger tea with a beautiful nutty flavour to it. I don’t steep it terribly long, but I adore it for a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon (I still drink coffee in the morning). I also love Twinings Lady Grey tea – it’s a beautiful blend of citrus and an earl grey tea – little bits of lemon and orange zest and blue cornflowers in it. It’s not very strong, but makes a wonderful cuppa that goes well with dinner or dessert.
In the same vein, Twinings also has some wonderful bagged, flavoured teas – they smell amazing and taste even better. Peach Black Tea is fantastic (and I’ll be making this iced this summer, too – yummy!), and their Cinnamon Apple Breakfast Tea is good too – it’s not too heavy on the cinnamon and the apple is readily discernable. But my all-time favourite flavoured tea from Twinings is their Four Red Fruits Tea – it has bits of strawberry, red currant, raspberry, and cherry in the tea bag with the leaves. It smells incredible and tastes even better – and I keep a bag or two with me when I’m out and about for the day, just in case I need a good cup of tea while I’m away from home. 😉
But by far, the best tea I’ve had to date is the Lady Londonderry blend from EnglishTeaStore.com. It’s their own house blend of black tea, floral petals, strawberry, and lemon. It’s light, airy, beautiful and delicious – and has been served for high tea at Buckingham Palace. There’s not a tea-drinker or tea-hater to whom I’ve served this who hasn’t immediately fallen in love with it – that’s *that* good.
There are so many more teas that I want to explore in the upcoming year, but these are several of my favourites. I suspect that as the weather here warms up and I begin to make iced tea, I’m going to go through a lot of tea, filters, and ice trying out all of these different blends.
But I’m okay with that – tea’s good for you, don’tcha know?! 😉