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Guests and Ghosts

Herbal Tea

When you think of real comfort in a cup, herbal teas are where it’s at. Some popular brands that I enjoy and highly recommend are Celestial Seasonings, Traditional Medicinals, and Yogi. All can be found in your favorite grocery store and are usually on sale (Stop & Shop likes to run “2 for $5” on all of these brands almost year-round). It’s hard for me to pick one favorite herbal tea blend. But, lately I’ve been drawn to Celestial Seasonings’ Tension Tamer, Sleepytime, Mandarin Orange Spice, and the aforementioned Bengal Spice. Recently, Celestial Seasonings re-branded their products, which led to some concerns among the herbal tea faithful that the company was discontinuing a number of popular blends. To watch one fearless individual’s quest to track down Tension Tamer tea, check out the hilarious Coco Peru in this video. (Incidentally, if you’re having a craptastic day and need a laugh, this video will assist you with some solid ha-ha therapy. ☺

Traditional Medicinals are my go-to teas for when I’m run down with a cold or the flu. From Throat Coat to Breathe Easy to Gypsy Cold Care, these are fantastic for providing comfort while convalescing.

Yogi Tea, similar to Celestial Seasonings, has a number of blends suited for various ailments. I’m a fan of their Honey Lavender Stress Relief blend. Some herbal teas that contain lavender tend to be overpowering for me. But, this blend gets it just right. If you’re seriously stressed out, I highly recommend this particular blend. 

Rooibos Tea

Is it a tea? Is it an herb? How do you pronounce it?

Technically, it’s not a tea since it doesn’t come from Camellia sinensis. However, it is classified as an herb. It comes from the South African plant Aspalathus linearis. The name, Rooibos (pronounced “ROY-bos”), literally translates as “red bush.” The fermentation of the plucked leaves gives it the red color. There are a number of health claims for rooibos tea, so it’s become more popular among herbal teas on the market. Personally, I never warmed up to rooibos tea on its own. Much like my feelings on white tea, I need to have it blended with other ingredients in order for me to really enjoy it. I discovered a really tasty blend made by MEM Tea Imports called Rooibos Decorated. In addition to the rooibos leaves, they also add vanilla, orange peel, and blue cornflower petals. 

Preparation

There’s a science of sorts behind tea preparation. Meaning, some teas require longer brewing time, some shorter. Additionally, the temperature of the water needs to be considered. There’s an entire market of tea accoutrements dedicated to tea timers and thermometers.

thermometer timer

Personally, I think a lot of it makes the entire tea brewing process rather complicated. There’s a few basic rules of thumb for brewing that I adhere to: green tea typically brews for 2 minutes; oolong and black teas usually brew for 3-5 minutes; white teas usually brew for 3-4 minutes; and, anything herbal (including rooibos) can brew for up to 7 minutes, sometimes longer. When in doubt, follow the instructions on the box of tea. Also, there’s some trial and error involved – once again, it all comes down to taste and personal preference. If you prefer a wicked bitter green tea, by all means, steep it for over 5 minutes. (Though, I wouldn’t recommend it.) ☺  

Turmeric Tea

You know this tea is a big deal if it gets a section all to itself. It’s an herbal tea, and it’s frickin’ magical, to put it mildly. You may already know about the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric and use it in your cooking. But, it also makes a mighty fine tea! I came across this recipe on the Hello Glow blog and I’ve been making a cup of it nearly every night for the past month. It’s tasty, warming, soothing, de-stressing, shut ye olde brain off and get some sleep, and perfect for winter time:

INGREDIENTS

1 cup almond milk
½ - 1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon honey

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the almond milk in a small sauce pan. When the milk is warm (not hot) stir in the spices. Pour into a large cup and add honey to taste.

turmeric tea copy

I like to use a whisk to stir the spices in the pan. Also, I keep a spoon in my mug while I’m sipping it. The spices don’t fully dissolve and tend to settle at the bottom in-between sips, so you have to periodically stir it to get the nice mixture of flavors throughout your drinking experience. Don’t make any plans for the rest of the night – you’ll probably fall asleep within 1 hour of consuming. (At least, that’s what always happens to me!)

So Much Tea, So Little Time

There is SO much more tea that I can talk about. But, I hope at the very least, your interest is piqued in exploring the many varieties of tea that are available. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite brew! For now, I will leave you with the invitation to talk tea to me! What’s warming up your cup? ☺

hit me with your best pot

Kim Santo lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts. A self-confessed tea addict connoisseur, Kim enjoys sharing her love of tea with anyone who wants to learn more about her favorite beverage.

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