A couple of months ago, I found a new hobby. It doesn’t take a lot of time, it isn’t expensive, it’s relaxing, and it’s supposedly healthy although I’m not really aiming for that. If the pictures above haven’t clued you in already, my new hobby is drinking tea… :)
Still, my newfound interest in tea is just a light hobby; I haven’t really looked into those formalized tea drinking ceremonies, I also don’t consider myself a tea connoisseur, and I’m not looking into learning about all the blends, and infusions, and tea grades, and so on—those are way above my head. Besides, not knowing all of that hasn’t really stopped me from mixing and matching my own favorite recipes (if you can call it that).
Basically all I do is go to a supermarket (an upscale one, that is) and pick out several (or more than several; depends on what I have left in my pocket) different tea packages. I try out different brands and also different flavors and infusions. Then when I get home, I experiment with various ways to mix and match them. I’m sure that there is a refined art or science to tea mixing, but for my daily tea routine, I simply go with whatever comes to mind.
Want to know what some of my favorites are?
Vanilla tea; this goes great with milk, preferably warm.
Mint tea goes along well with other fruit flavors, or even simply black tea, especially cold.
Subtle lemon infusions can add a nice touch to iced black tea, but I’ve also found a number of strongly flavored teas with citrus mixes that are better served hot, and are great when you have a cold.
Chamomile can be served hot or cold, but can also take the bitter edge of strong black teas.
Passion fruit infusions tend to be very subtle (well, at least the ones I’ve found so far). So I either use double the amount of tea, or I combine them with other flavors (lemon and mint are okay).
Hibiscus and mixed berries; now that’s a bit unusual, no? Surprisingly good, although I prefer to tone down the sour flavor with a bag of black tea.
Powdered matcha and red tea from Ceylon is best served hot without anything else added to it.
Next up, I’m planning on trying my hand at mixing whole leaf teas. You how the tea leaves in tea bags are clearly crushed? That’s (apparently) called ‘broken leaf’ tea, so I suppose the ‘whole leaf’ variety are the ones other than bagged tea with leaves that are still clearly distinct.
The most important thing I’ve discovered is that to really enjoy different kinds of tea and tea mixes, I need to slow down, relax, and let my senses detect all the subtle tastes and aromas that come out during the brewing process. I’m not really sure about the health benefits of my new hobby, but relaxing for half an hour or so each day with a cup of warm hibiscus-scented tea or a tall glass of icy mint tea is definitely healthy for my mood…