I have always had a certain romanticism about drinking tea. Maybe it was the historical romance novels I read in my teens or watching too much of Ladies of London on Bravo Television, but I wanted to be a tea drinker.
I never acquired the taste for coffee (I know, so un-American). Tea is the second most consumed beverage around the world. Is beer or water the first? I still haven't gotten the hang of drinking tea- and I am not going to lie- I am a little worried about the impact on teeth with staining (my vanity bug). However, I am doing a lot of research on the benefits of tea- which there is a lot besides the different flavors. So there has to be something out there for me.
So it can be served hot or cold and can be found in loose leaf form or manufactured tea bags. Loose leaf teas offer the most benefits and tend to have more flavors over tea bag teas. There is also number of tea varieties that you can choose from each offering versatile flavors and benefits. So here are the basics of tea as we navigate the D.C. Tea Party; without the political movement or angering the British.
Most Popular Types of Teas
Black teas tend to have a stronger flavor than most other tea varieties. They tend to be made from small leaf Chinese plants or large leaf Assamese plants. The flavors of black tea tend to last through many years while other teas will begin to lose their flavors within a year.
Green tea comes from Camellia leaves. They do not go through a withering or oxidation process. Green tea is most notable for it many health benefits such as lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a decrease in cholesterol.
Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea and can have a variety of flavor profiles. Some can give off sweet and fruity flavors with hints of honey while other can have a more wood like flavor with fresh bouquet aromas. It sounds like perfume or wine, I know. Oolong teas are uniquely produced from a withering process where the leaves will curl and twist from the sun.
Herbal teas offer a variety of flavors because they are an infusion with different herbs, spices and plants. These teas tend to be decaffeinated. In some regions, herbal teas are referred to as an infusion or tisane. Hibiscus herbal teas are popular in most regions of Egypt but many varieties exist (which hibiscus is the "thing" right now in liquor). Some of the most well-known herbal teas include peppermint, ginger, chamomile and lemon.
Rooibos teas are highly popular in many South African regions, where the rooibos plant grows. It is a tea that is gaining in wide popularity because it is rich in Vitamin C and have shown to give drinkers a number of other health benefits. It is a caffeine free tea and is said to help reduce inflammation, strengthen bones and teeth.
Ways of Making Tea
Steeping tea is the most common way to make tea, especially with loose-leaf teas. Steeping tea is a process of adding the tea leaves to hot water and allowing "steeping" or brewing. The leaves remain in the water for about three minutes before they are strained and the tea is ready for serving. Water temperature, grade of leaves and how long you allow the tea leaves to steep will all tend to have an effect on how the tea will taste. Most will boil the water in a kettle and then add it to a tea pot, usually made from porcelain or glass, hey; you were warned this was a primer. The tea leaves are then added into the teapot to brew. Once the leaves have set int he water for the determined amount of time and the temperature of the water has cooled slightly, it is then served. Honey, sugar and milk are some of the most common items that are added into the tea just before consumption.
Quick Natural Remedies
- Lemon Balm Tea- Stress Reliever (we all need)
- Peppermint Tea- helps with the bloat (Girl, you know what I am talking about)
- Green Tea- Get that metabolism up
- Ginger Tea- Upset Stomach (they have greet ginger tea mints at Trader Joes that helps too)
- Chamomile Tea- Get your Sleep on
- Elderflower Tea- Common Cold
- Dandelion Tea- Get that detox done
My Favorite Tea Place
Described as, "leading independent, American, specialty tea retailer....high-quality teas." They have over 200 organic and natural teas; which a lot of them can be ordered online. This really is the epitome of Washington D.C. with their flavors such as Almond Cream Biscotti, Cherry Blossom Rose, Island Mango (my favorite- great as cold brewed) and Slimming Oolong; they have unique blends and great gift sets.
Mosaic (Fairfax) 2910 District Avenue, Suite #168, Fairfax, VA 22031
Pentagon Row 1201 S. Joyce St, Arlington, VA 22202
Bethesda Row 4806 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814
Annapolis (Historic District) 77 Main Street, Annapolis, MD 21401
National Harbor 145 Waterfront Street, Oxon Hill, MD 20745
Dupont Circle 1627 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
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