A Quick Guide to Fabulous Tea

I’m not going to pretend I don’t like food. I’m a pretty small person – height-wise AND around – and people think I diet to stay my size. I don’t. I have a terrible, terrible habit of eating everything in sight, especially when I’m sitting down to write, which is really inconvenient because I’m a college student living with my parents and they don’t like the huge grocery bills my eating habits produce.

Thankfully, I’ve found an alternative to food-chomping that’s a much quieter, less messy, more healthy alternative: drinking tea. I’m turning into a bit of a tea snob, actually, to the point where I rarely accept tea from a bag and refuse Teavana except on rare occasions.

If you’re looking for something to fill your stomach that’s not incredibly messy (like Cheetos or queso dip) or if you’re trying to get off the coffee habit, you may want to consider switching to tea. Here are a few tips from someone who’s been on the bandwagon for almost two years:

  • For best results, use loose-leaf tea.  This is probably just my tea snobbery, but I never really liked tea until I tried loose-leaf tea.  I’m absolutely convinced it’s because I could taste the paper from a tea bag.  You can do a quick Google search for “tea shops” in your area to locate the nearest one.  In Toledo, where I live, you can check out Elaine’s Tea Shoppe on Monroe Street for basically all your tea-related needs.
  • Make sure you brew it for precisely the right amount of time.  For green loose-leaf tea, brew for three minutes if you like it a bit stronger.  For black loose-leaf tea, brew for #### minutes to get it nice and strong.  For less of a kick in your tea, or to enjoy a more mellow taste, let steep a minute or two less.
  • Buy in small amounts unless you drink like a fiend.  If you do drink like a fiend, you probably know how much you need, but if you’re starting out, make sure you just buy an ounce or two when you buy a specific type of tea for the first time.  You’d be surprised how long two ounces lasts.
  • Use an appropriate sweetener for the type of tea you’re drinking.  There are plenty to choose from: honey, sugar, German rock sugar, and artificial sweeteners, to start with.  But not all sweeteners fit all types of tea.  I prefer honey for green teas, but I can’t stand honey in chai or black tea – for those, I stick with white sugar or German rock sugar, which is brown.  You’ll develop your own taste for sweeteners over time – or maybe decide you don’t want any sweeteners at all.
  • Figure out how to use creamers.  I personally like whole milk as a creamer, but I have friends who prefer heavier cream or skim milk.  Very few green teas taste good with creamer, except for chai, but I only like black tea with creamer!  This is another example of you figuring out what you do and don’t like, but take my advice: most green teas taste awkward with cream.

Now, none of these rules are set in stone, and rules are frequently meant to be broken – but keep these in mind if you haven’t really enjoyed tea before or if you’d like to take up loose-leaf tea drinking.

Did this blog help you decide you’d like to start drinking tea?  Do you already drink tea and agree/disagree with me?  Let me know in the comments below!

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