14 Oct 2009

T is for Tea

After dedicating a post to one of my staple food ingredients (sea salt), I thought I would take the liberty to explore with you another of my 'capsule wardrobe' ingredients, one which – should you knock on my front door unannounced – you will be assured is stored in my kitchen cupboard, no matter the day of week or time of month!

I may intermittently run out of essentials like bread, fruit juice or chocolate (who’s the culprit?!), but I’ll always be safe in the knowledge that my extensive collection of teas and herbal teas will last me for months. These are probably not everyone’s cup of tea (so to speak) but as far as hot drinks are concerned I like to keep my tea options open.

First I should perhaps clarify the fact that I am not a fan of ‘everyday’ English tea, the one that is spurn out in tea bags from the big brands off the supermarket, and needs to be drowned in milk and sugar to make it remotely palatable… I won’t give names but I’m sure you'll have an idea. Having said that, the irony is that I do store it in large quantities, due to the fact that my partner is an avid ‘everyday’ tea drinker…

However my personal selection of teas is eclectic and includes loose and bagged varieties, mainstream brands and the more connoisseur products. Just to give you an idea of what I have in store right this moment:

  • Mainstream: Twinings Earl Grey; Tick Tock rooibos tea (with redbush, a caffeine-free alternative); supermarket own brand peppermint tea (admittedly a very poor alternative to the freshly-picked, freshly-crushed garden mint ingredient!); Twinings Digestif Tea (a mix of peppermint and fennel to aid digestion)
  • Connoisseur: Earl Grey (from Stokes, a renowned tea and coffee house in Lincoln); ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ (a romantic blend of loose green tea and dried rose buds, purchased from Geels in Amsterdam).

Undoubtedly my moods and the availability from shops I visit influence my choices. In the last 12 months, the following were also part of my collection:
  • Mainstream: Loose jasmine tea (supermarket own brand); Clipper’s white tea with raspberry-flavour; fruit infusions from Tetley
  • Connoisseur: Brewhaha rose tea (a potent black tea, delightfully flavoured); a tiny tin of framboise tea from Geels (which I consumed in extreme moderation!); Farrer’s Lakeland Special Tea (a holiday present); bergamot tea from Imperial Teas of Lincoln (a specialist tea and coffee house on Steep Hill)…
If it is claimed that variety is the spice of life, the saying definitely applies to my approach to tea concoctions and infusions! Why stick with the one when you could enjoy more! And you needn’t feel guilty about those little pleasures, a little goes a long way, and they will therefore be cheaper than chocolate! Now on to some serious business: let’s put the kettle on…

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