Coffee gets a lot of love – it’s warm, caffeinating, tasty, and Instagram-worthy. But, I’d argue, tea is also all of that and happens to be my hot drink of choice. So, it’s time to shine the spotlight on tea.
I’ve mentioned before my love of tea and it being my go-to morning drink. But it wasn’t always this way.
I love the smell and taste of coffee. In university, I had an on-and-off relationship with java, as many caffeine-dependent students do. I’d grab a medium roast with one milk on my way to an early morning class, and sometimes indulge in a Starbucks peppermint white mocha or caramel macchiato for a special treat (while I ordered them half sweet, I still can’t bear thinking about how sugary these were!)
But like sugar’s effect, I found the caffeine hikes too high and the crashes too sudden. Tea was the perfect alternative. There’s nothing like cuddling up to a warm mug in the morning, and this beverage provided just the right amount of sustained “wake-up” factor.
The options and varieties are endless, and the history of tea processing and drinking dates back thousands of years and spans many cultures. Other than memorizing my ideal ratio of water to milk, I’m no expert on the subject. But my little amount of research has taught me the drink likely originated in China as a medicinal drink around 2000 B.C., and later became popular in Britain during the 17th century.
Tea plants are native to East Asia, and popular varieties include black teas, green tea, oolong, pu-erh, white, herbal, rooibos, maté and flowering teas. We know there are certain health benefits associated with sipping the steeped stuff, including improved cardiovascular health, according to some research.
So, what are the features of some common types?
Black teas include varieties like Earl Grey, Chai, Orange Pekoe, and English Breakfast, and contain between 14-70 mg of caffeine per 8 oz., according to the Mayo Clinic. “Black tea is made from fully oxidized leaves, which produce a hearty deep rich flavour in a coloured amber brew,” says the Tea Association of Canada. This is my go-to in the morning!
Known also for its caffeinated nature along with antioxidizing properties, green tea “has a delicate taste, light green colour and is very refreshing.” Matcha is a specific type of green tea in powder from Japan, often used in lattes and recipes. I love adding it to smoothies and making unsweetened matcha lattes with almond milk — find a great recipe below.
Oolong teas are typically drunk plain and “feature partly oxidized leaves and combine the taste and colour qualities of black and green tea.”
White tea has a “mild flavour and natural sweetness” and contains caffeine, although not the same amount and green or black teas.
You know this as the type you sip before bedtime. It’s calming and is not made from the Camellia sinesis plant like the others, but from “an infusion of leaves, roots, bark, seeds or flowers.” Steep some chamomile, mint (helps with digestion) or licorice tea to help relax.
My Cup of Tea
I start my day with a mug of Orange Pekoe and unsweetened almond milk, often brew some green tea for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, and reach for peppermint tea before bed or after dinner.
On the weekend, I like to make something a little more exciting than my daily cup. Some delicious refined sugar-free recipes I love:
- Coconut Chai Latte from Oh She Glows
- Matcha Latte from DavidsTea
- London Fog: An Earl Grey Latte from The Nourishing Gourmet
After looking into more information about tea and finding out how much there is to know on the topic, it reminded me of wine and, specifically, the study of wine. Sure enough, there’s such a thing as a certified tea sommelier! If that’s your cup of tea, find out more.
What’s your tea ritual? Do you prefer bagged or loose leaf? Share below!
Note: this post was inspired by a reader comment. If there’s something you’re interested for me to write about, let me know below!