Like cats and writers, books and tea go hand in hand. Julie and Jarad could probably be termed, "tea addicts." As such, they're here to tell you all about their favorite teas today!
When I was a little girl, hot tea was more than a drink for me, it was a connection with a cosy world of English bedtime stories. In my favorites stories, particularly Alice in Wonderland, tea played an important role. Tea felt like something a writer would drink. Where I grew up in the South, iced sweet tea was popular, but in the morning and the winter, most people went to coffee for warmth and caffeine. Other than my mom, a yankee, I didn’t know a lot of people who sat down with a cup of hot tea in the afternoon to read a book. But she did, and it was a habit I picked up.
I can remember bringing flowers in from the yard to place on the table, another of my odd habits as a child, making a cup of tea and reading. If the characters in the book I was reading fell on hard times, sometimes I pretended that they could leave the book for just a few minutes and come have tea with me, usually with bread and butter. Of course, I they always had to go back into the book because I needed to finish it…but just minute to pop into the kitchen and refresh themselves? Surely no one would miss them for an hour of tea. (I was quite glad I did this for the dwarves in the hobbit, since so many of them fell in battle at the end, something I was quite inconsolable about.)
When I was growing up, we had regular Lipton tea bags with black tea. I remember being slightly offended when Connie disparaged Miss Bentley’s tea in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I still prefer a black tea, but I’ve broadened my tastes somewhat. I like flavored black teas. Blackberry is the best. If you make it with honey, it’s summer in a cup. When winter starts to drag me down, I make a steaming, tongue burning cup of it and feel like I’m back in the summer heat, risking the inhospitable teeth of the briars to steal the food of the gods. (Yes, my life is boring…why do you ask?) Although I love winter and autumn spiced teas, like apple and cinnamon or Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet I get tired of pretending to like cold weather after Christmas so blackberry brings me a little early summer in a cup. Like Jarad, I’m a fan of the old standbys Lady Grey and Earl Grey. As an old lady and a grandmama, I have to admit that I love Constant Comment, an old lady tea if there ever was one.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me because I fancy a cup of tea and I need to decide which of my favorite fictional characters I would like to share it with.
My tea addiction:
Oftentimes, reading is done in a hurry. Outside a classroom, in a line at the grocery store, or in a sea of people who you’ve decided are superbly uninteresting. However, there are times when you get to sit down with a book for a few hours, with no distractions and no pending jobs that need doing. Those times are rare for me, but when they occur, I find that I want something to sip on while I read. I’ve always been a tea drinker, and I find that books and tea go hand in hand. There’s a famous C.S Lewis quote about that very subject, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
My go-to tea, the first one I think of and the one I drink the most is green tea. I don’t remember how that started, but I believe I was going through a health-kick years ago and this stuck with me. I drink a big cup of it every day, usually right before I go to bed, which is also often the only reading time I get. The mild flavor is calming and relaxing, especially since my favorite is flavored with jasmine. Well, relaxing to me at least. My mom says it tastes like grass in a cup.
When I’m not in the mood for green tea, I drink earl grey or lady grey. Though I don’t find a lot of difference between the two, I do love the flavor of both. I find myself drinking this in the early morning, after coffee of course, most often when I have the opportunity to sit outside and read, and also getting distracted by my cats, who are gluttons for attention. Apparently, I have a high tolerance for both cats and caffeine.
When fall (finally) comes around in the south, I find myself in the mood for fall flavors. Spiced teas are my answer to that. There’s a particular tea I go for that has orange, cinnamon and anise that personifies fall to me. I go through boxes of the stuff when the weather turns.
There are also teas that I go for when I’m sick. Two of the most common are echinacea and mint. Echinacea boosts the immune system, and as such needs to be flavored with heaping spoonfuls of honey, given the taste. Mint is just a favorite of mine, but for some reason I only grab it when I have a cold. I’ve been doing it for so long now that I associate the two. Perhaps it’s the refreshing taste of the mint that I enjoy so much during a cold.