Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Cup of Tea

The children and I have always had little tea parties. We drink from our prettiest cups, bake something special, enjoy berries, and sit at a small table with a pretty setting. And we most often drink sweet chai with cream. Lovely. Recently we invited everyone to our home for a tea party on a much bigger scale! More cups, more desserts, more friends, and lots more tea! I wanted to expand my tea experience and find new teas to enjoy, so I asked guests to bring the tea they wanted to drink, and one to share. We provided cups, hot water, and tasty things to eat, and I was imagining getting to discover new flavors and varieties of tea. Well, everyone was even more generous than I had imagined they would be. Thank you! Some guests brought whole boxes of tea. Patricia had her chai mixed in a jar, ready to heat on the stove. We had all kinds of teas to choose from, plus Sherry! Plus curry chicken, scones, vanilla cake… yes, it was a lovely gathering of people, and yummy things to drink and eat.

And now… well, there are plenty of new teas for me try, which has been fun, and really quite… what's the expression? It's been elegant and uplifting and pretty and enchanting… is there a word that kind of sums of the feeling when something clever and pretty makes you feel special and charmed? I don't know how to explain it, but some of these teas have me simply smitten!

This! It's functional. It's quite pretty. It smells of mint, with a suggestion of a confectionary indulgence, and that wee stem! I am utterly undone by this tea bag. Tea Forté. I haven't even tried it! I am hoarding it and relishing the darling design of it. I am a silly woman.

Maria and I have tried this tea… it's mint, and we love it. It smells like a garden of spearmint in summer. Fresh, awakening. The taste is the same… fresh, and awakening. It's a good choice for me, because caffeine and I cannot be friends. So, I guess I am not, technically speaking, looking for a true tea, which does contain caffeine, but an herb, or red tea. Lately, I've been troubled by the sad realization that I am far too enamored of my chai tea habit, and that the caffeine in that black tea is not good for me. Time to go back to chamomile, and pick up more of this lovely mint. Oh… I see they have a Jasmine tea. Jasmine tea is one that makes me absolutely spellbound with its fragrance. Those intense floral notes are romantic.

Of course, now that I've opened the door, and stepped into the shop, so to speak, I find that I've barely begun to understand all the choices, appreciate the differences, discover the histories and traditions of tea. And then there are more questions: Who makes what best, and how can I best prepare my tea? I am tempted to plan my next tea party. Mim mentioned flowering tea, and that's definitely something I want to try. And will I ever be able to drop my chai habit? Not when I am tempted with the comforting warmth and spice of that wonderful tea, or see how beautiful it can look when you mix you own spices and herbs, like Alicia Paulson did. Dear Chai, I cannot leave you.

This little pouch has a soft vanilla fragrance. I like the cotton bag, the vintage tag, the quaint way it suggests a voyage, a story.

My cup of tea is sharing with friends, and thinking of the next party. I take my chamomile straight, or if I am feeling sweet, with cream and local honey. And mint tea is nice with a touch of sugar, and company. Are you having tea?

6 comments:

  1. I love this! My kids enjoy tea parties with me and both my sister and I love going to a Tea shop about 45 minutes drive from our place. It has OVER 200 different kinds of tea to choose from! My current favourite is Madagascan Vanilla. So yummy! Oh yes and it has to be drunk out of a proper tea cup too otherwise it's nowhere near as enjoyable.

    xx Susan

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  2. I start and end my day with tea, but I definitely need to break out of my routine brands. Lovely inspiration, Natalie!

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  3. I love tea too and have been cultivating my tastes for a few years now since I had to give up coffee. My favorites are all black teas but lately I've been wondering if caffeine is becoming a problem for me and if so, I will mourn the loss of black tea like you are. (my favorite of the moment is Duchess Grey)
    I also enjoy Jasmine Green tea, preferably iced!

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  4. A silly woman… that's the best kind.

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  5. I have recently discovered Red Tea or Rooibos. Fab! If you like Chai, then you might want to try the Caramel Chai Red Tea. Got it from World Market. Also Whole Foods has a great selection.

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  6. My very favorite tea is MarketSpice Cinnamon Orange Decaf. It's from the shop at Pike Place Market in Seattle, but you can find it on amazon.com as well. :)

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