I am a tea-drinker, though a lazy (bag-tea) one more often than not. But if you think you love tea, you should be introduced to the beauty of REAL clever blends of loose-leaf tea, and you will never find them on a grocery store shelf. My friend Angila, who lives a bit west near London, Ontario, once mailed me a couple of awesome packets of tea from her company, Tea Bird (if you’re in Canada, do check her out and buy a sampler or something!). One was called “Trucker’s Prayer” which smelled amazing, like flowers and tropical fruit. Bemused by the name but loving the smell, I drank a cup at 3PM, assuming it was an innocuous herbal blend. By about 3AM, unable to sleep, I finally “got” the name. – Anne
Let’s talk about tea shall we? And by tea I mean quality loose leaf, hand plucked gorgeous leaves. Not the dust swept from the floors and put in bags. Ouch.
That’s right–I’m a tea snob. I don’t ask that you hold a pinky up and use Grandma’s fine china. No way. I don’t even care if you put milk in before or after. But I do expect you to invest a few minutes in learning the reasons behind choosing better. You will thank me.
A little about myself: About three years ago, I disliked tea. In fact I would go so far as to say I thought lowly of tea and that it could never compare to coffee. A kind woman gave me a chance to learn more, however. I started smelling, tasting and observing this fascinating drink. I wasn’t into losing my boyfriend Java Joe, but I was definitely seeing less of him. Now I own a little tea business where I spend most of my time fascinating people with what I know.
At least I hope I do.
When I spent a few weeks sampling different teas, I found that not only did I feel great, I was calm and alert all at the same time. I wasn’t all jacked up on coffee caffeine and cleaning my house in twenty minutes flat. That’s because the caffeine in tea is delivered to your brain a little bit differently than coffee. It offers a slow, steady caffeine drip that can last up to four hours.
So, how is it different than coffee caffeine? Well, you won’t even believe this, but tea is one of the only sources of the super fantastic L-Theanine. What this little number does is cross the blood brain barrier and gets your alpha waves flowing. Your happy place.
Did you know that all six types of tea come from one plant? Did you know there were six types of tea? Yes. White, green, black, oolong and pu’erh all come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Mind blown? Told you.
But how does one little plant provide such a variety? Well, it’s a lot like wine. Farmers manipulate the growing, processing and handling of the tea leaves to create the bliss we all want – choices.
The only part of the tea bush used is the top two leaves and the bud. Controlled oxidation is the key to making thousands of different teas. For instance a white tea is plucked and immediately hidden from the world, packed up and ready for sale. When you see white tea, it is fuzzy, soft and downright adorable. You drink it with cooler than boiling water and will taste no tannins; just peachy, fruitful delight. A great starter tea.
If you want the strongest of all teas, that would be pu’erh. It’s plucked, withered, dried and left to rot. Yes, rot. Some of the finest and most expensive teas in the world are pu’erh and they’ve been buried in caves. I can’t make this up.
Of course something so awful-sounding is extremely healthy, with such benefits as anti-aging, increased metabolism, and loads of anti-oxidants. It just has an acquired taste.
In between white and pu’erh is green, oolong and the most popular: black tea. The most amazing thing is that tea is all good for you, not just that show-off green tea which everyone goes on and on about. Green tea just happens to be the most studied. So now you can add all the others. Hallelujah!!
Choosing loose leaf vs. bag, however, is where you need to know the truth. Tea is graded by the size of the leaf. Loose leaf teas are best from smaller plantations and hand plucked. A bagged tea is machine-cut into tiny bits. This means you get stems and the dust from factory floors. Yes, it’s true.
Also, over 500 different kind of pesticides are used on big tea plantations. You don’t necessarily have to choose organic, but do choose a smaller estate farm. Often times an independent farmer can’t afford the certification of organic, but he/she is chemical-free. Plus you can feel the love in each cup.
Loose leaf tea is also very affordable, especially considering how healthy tea is. It helps and supports each and every organ in your body for about 25 cents a cup. That’s insane. So don’t give up you coffee, but do switch from six a day to one. For the rest of the day, consider tea. If you have any questions send them off to firstname.lastname@example.org