In Search of the Perfect Cup of Tea

harrypotterteamugSince I was forced to give up my Diet Coke addiction four years and seven months ago (yes, I’m still counting, and still get the cravings at odd moments), I’ve become a devoted tea drinker. I won’t begin to call myself a tea aficionado, because truly, I just don’t like a lot of the fancier, more exotic (expensive) blends.

I’ve tried and rejected a number of white and red teas. They’re interesting, but just don’t fit my need for tea. And while I’ve read about the purported health benefits of green tea, I don’t find it palatable without tons of other flavorings, which probably dilutes the health benefits. I do find peppermint tea comforting when I’m feeling a little sick, and also enjoy some spiced/herbal mixes on a cold winter evening. But on a day-to-day basis, I want a good cup of black tea.

On the weekends, I enjoy making a pot of tea from loose tea leaves, but on weekday mornings I just don’t have the time. So, I fire up my electric kettle and make a mug (or two, or three) of tea using tea bags.

I’m currently fixated on Earl Grey tea, and have tried a number of different brands. If you’re not a tea drinker, let me tell you now that all Earl Grey teas are not alike. I tried the Republic of Tea’s Earl Greyer, but found it far too strong for my taste. I’ve also tried Brewley’s Earl Grey and had to reject it for the strong floral scent. I currently have boxes of Twinings and Stash Earl Grey at home, and like both of them. I also have a very special tin of Fortnum and Mason Earl Grey. It costs a pretty penny to have it shipped from the UK, but is truly fantastic.

Although I still have those cravings for Diet Coke, there’s something far more comforting about a nice cup of tea in the morning than a quick swig of Diet Coke. Are you a tea drinker? If so, what are your favorite types? And am I missing out on a wonderful brand of Earl Grey?


20 thoughts on “In Search of the Perfect Cup of Tea

  1. Missie

    I am a devoted tea drinker, both hot and also iced.

    I have never cared for Earl Grey tea, though — just not a fan of bergamot.

    My absolute favorite loose tea I ever had was one I used to obtain from a specialty tea shop in Oklahoma City. The shop was a delight — it was owned and operated by two elderly sisters. The tea was Russian Caravan tea, and I really, REALLY enjoyed brewing pots of it during cold, windy weather.

    Nowadays, I start my days with a pot of Barry’s Gold Blend — even my hubby, a devoted coffee drinker for years, has changed to starting his days with Barry’s, as well.

    As for green tea — I’ve found that green tea tastes best if you STEAM it rather than brew it with boiling water. So when I make some — I enjoying having it sometimes when I make Chinese food — I bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat (I have a gas stove, so instant on and off), let the water sit there for a couple of minutes, until the active boiling stops and we have very hot water as opposed to boiling water, and then pour that very hot water over the green tea and let it steep.

  2. LeeB.

    I’m not a tea drinker either but have been know to partake of a few sips when attending teas in England. Actually I enjoy the treats more than the tea so am not sure what kind of tea I’m drinking. ;)

  3. Peggy P

    Oh yes, the perfect pot of tea is an art form for me and a daily requirement. I also prefer Earl Grey and have tried all the various brands but the one I prefer is Bigelow’s and of course, I also enjoy their Constant Comment tea. I know it is not exotic or rare as it is available in most grocery stores but that is some good Earl Grey!

    I agree about green tea – it just never seems right but then I like my tea very strong and green tea just doesn’t seem strong enough no matter how long it steeps.

  4. Jean Wan

    I love tea, although I prefer herbal over non (my favourite is licorice tea). Being Chinese I grew up on green tea, and I learned recently that you’re not supposed to use boiling water with it. Only to about 80C. Beats me why, but there you go. Not a fan of the so-called English teas (black or red or white), which I usually have to doctor up with lemon to make palatable. But in all honesty, that’s probably because I’ve only ever drunk the cheap kind. So maybe I’ll have to shell it out.

  5. PatF

    It’s a shame about the Diet Coke! But I also love hot tea. My mother let me sip hers when I was very young and have loved it ever since. Earl Grey is probably my favorite, too. I have a tin of Fortnum and Mason Earl Grey that I am very stingy with.

  6. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    PatF, hooray for another Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey fan; it’s just wonderful.
    Jean and Missie, that’s really interesting about how you’re supposed to make green tea. I knew with white teas you’re not supposed to boil the water, but didn’t know that was true for green as well.

    jean, licorice tea sounds like something I’d like!

    Peggy, I haven’t tried Bigelow’s Earl Grey. I’ll have to give it a shot, as I’m sure I could get it here.

    Lee, well, the treats are good with high teas, but there’s nothing like a great cup of tea.

  7. Bessie makris

    I also like Bigelow’s Earl Grey. Two green teas I lie are Tazo Green Ginger and Numi Green Jasmine which tastes just like Ito En Teas’ Tea bottled green jasmine. I stopped drinking coffee 7 or 8 years ago and switched to tea–which is lucky for me because I broke the coffee habit just before Starbucks and other coffee shops exploded in this area. Drinking tea has save me a lot of money!

  8. kathy

    I love Earl Grey too. In order to get down green tea I use 1 bag of EG and 2 green tea bags. That’s a good tip re. steaming it. I’m going to do that.

  9. Jane AAR

    I’m an Irish Breakfast person. I don’t drink coffee so I need a source of caffeine to get me through the work day. I got less sleep than usual last night, so I had probably 3 cups today.

    The shop that I work at sells teapots and such, and I keep trying to get my boss to buy rubber duckie tea infusers. It’s the wire mesh basket for tea leaves, but the top is a rubber duck. it just bobs along on the surface of the tea. So cute!

  10. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Peggy & Bessie, I bought some Bigelow’s yesterday and tried it; I like it! Thanks.

    Jane, I went through a period where I drank nothing but Irish Breakfast for months (after a trip to Dublin). I haven’t had any in awhile, but am thinking it’s time to try some again. And that rubber duckie tea infuser? That sounds so cute! I’m going to have to look for them on the web.

  11. Donna Lea Simpson

    I’m a devoted Tetley girl through and through, but I can drink PG Tips.

    I just can’t get into Earl Grey… as Missie said, not a fan of bergamot.

    Flavored teas are for the rare occasion, as is chai.

    But most afternoons, a big cuppa Tetley!

    (I drink coffee in the morning, or my brain refuses to functio!)

  12. Missie

    Jane, until I discovered Barry’s Gold Blend, my fave morning tea was Irish Breakfast :-)

    Donna Lea, it’s so lovely to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t care for bergamot and/or Earl Grey.

    Oh, and Linnie, I’m not a big fan of licorice, either — which, I think, is part of why I don’t much care for Earl Grey and bergamot…or stevia sweetener.

  13. Linnae

    I swear by Constant Comment Tea which is a blend of oranges, sweet spices, and tea. It’s heavenly when you add a touch of sweetener. I gave up soft drinks two weeks ago and I miss the sparkling, crisp taste of either Coke or Pepsi. Sigh.

  14. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Missie, I love licorice, so maybe that’s part of the appeal of Earl Grey?
    Donna, I’ve never tried PG Tips but have heard about it. I’m going to have to give some a try.

    Linnae, I haven’t had Constant Comment in years but used to love it. i really should buy another container and try it again. I’m thinking it would be lovely in the afternoon at work.

    Eileen, nearly constant UTIs that for whatever reason, the Diet Coke seemed to make worse. I wouldn’t drink the Diet Coke while taking meds, and then would start up again the minute I was off meds. Soon, I’d have another UTI. No idea what the connection was, but the last one was so bad I gave it up for good, and haven’t had one since…but I still crave Diet Coke. In fact, I’d love one right now.

  15. xina

    My daughter and I have just discovered Teavana. Our favorite, so far is a loose white tea. The mixture is called Youth Berry and while I am not a big fan of sweetners, we sweeten it with the rock sugar and honey they sell in the store.
    Other favorites…Stash has a wonderful Chai bagged tea that I love. The Republic Of Tea makes a nice Pomegranate Green Tea that is very nice. And I have been a fan of Red Rose tea for many years. And if you buy the big box you get a little glass figuine. I have over 100…so far. :)

  16. Missie

    Linnae: I swear by Constant Comment Tea which is a blend of oranges, sweet spices, and tea.It’s heavenly when you add a touch of sweetener. I gave up soft drinks two weeks ago and I miss the sparkling, crisp taste of either Coke or Pepsi.Sigh.

    Linnae, club soda over ice with a slice of lime might help fulfill that sparkling, crisp taste you’re craving. Club soda can also help add some sparkle to fruit juices and such.

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