Tea. A beverage that is synonymous with Britain and images of quaint cafes offering cakes on doily-covered plates, to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, in front of a portrait of the Queen.
Unlike its brash cousin, coffee, that seems relentless in its world domination of morning pick-me-ups, tea has a history of lengthy rituals and strict rules that are often more important than the ultimate consumption.
And I’m just not talking about ceremonies originating from Japan and China. Pot or cup? Mug or cup? Ceramic or China? Lemon or milk? Milk first or last? Bag or loose? Brew time, water temperature…the list goes on!
Yes, I know there will be coffee connoisseurs out there that will tell me there are similar things to note to enjoy the best coffee. But I have no interest in the bitterness of the black stuff and live by the rule that nothing is quite as bad after a cuppa!
However, despite drinking tea for more than three decades, I’m rather green when it comes to venturing into the more unusual blends.
My preferred type is a bog-standard, teabag blend of black tea, served with milk and honey. I’ve enjoyed green tea and some herbal varieties over the years but always return to my trusty brew.
Until this year. After visiting a gorgeous vintage cafe and discovering Mayan Chocolate Truffle Tea (a spicy, yet smooth, chocolatey infused delight) I started to research more flavours and equipment.
For my birthday, I received a glass teapot, (apparently better for the more delicate varieties, such as white, oolong and green) branched out with various types of black tea, (from Darjeeling and Bombay Chai to ones infused with tones of orange, vanilla and mint), started drinking camomile before bed and fell in love with flowering teas!
These cute little bundles of tea leaves are expertly wrapped together with flowers like jasmine, chrysanthemum and hibiscus, then dried out. The result, when popped in hot water, is magical!
It takes around three minutes for them to slowly unfurl into an unusual floral creation, as the water becomes flavoured with their ingredients.
Some of them were a little too perfumed for my taste-buds but I was still mesmerised with watching what it would turn out like. I also managed to keep the one of the blooms for a few days, with the pot doubling as a vase. Didn’t do too well drying it out though!
There are many more I want to test out but that’s my little journey of tea enlightenment so far! Are you a tea drinker? Are there any you can recommend to add to my list? Let me know in the comments… but be warned – you’ll not convert me to a cappuccino!
Image Credits: My own plus Pinterest and Antique Alive.