Autumn is the season when we can finally dust off our tea kettles. There are so many different kinds of teas and just as many different ways to prepare them. You would not believe all the tea apparatus and practices observed around the world. I’m no expert on tea by any means, but I love the stuff and here’s what I’ve learned about it so far.
Black tea, depending on how it’s brewed, has more caffeine than other types of tea. So black teas are great if you don’t care for coffee in the mornings or if you just need a little pick-me up with less of a crash than you get after more caffeinated drinks. Earl Grey is my favorite black tea (no, not because it was favored by Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, but that certainly helps). It has a lovely bergamot scent. Lady Grey, which is Earl Grey with citrus, is also delicious. If you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend Republic of Tea’s Earl Greyer or Revolution’s Earl Grey Lavender. Other popular black teas are English Breakfast and chai tea (yum!).
Green tea contains caffeine, like black tea, but generally contains less of it (depending on the variety). This tea is so delicious that it has invaded every type of sweet known to humankind. Powdered green tea (called matcha) is used in tea ceremonies but also tastes great in ice cream or cake (and yes, you can make vegan versions of these!). Bathing in green tea is also said to detoxify the skin. (But don’t drink the bath water.) Studies have even shown that green tea may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including skin cancer.
White tea contains more polyphenols (which are antioxidants) than black or green tea, so drink up! This stuff is good for you and tastes delicious to boot. Studies suggest that, like green teas, due to their polyphenol content, white teas have antibacterial and antiviral properties and may also help reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease.
Herbal teas (also known as tisanes) have a wide variety of benefits and flavors. Herbal tea is basically anything not brewed from tea leaves, so there’s a lot of wiggle room here! Some of my favorite herbal teas and their benefits include:
Peppermint or ginger for an upset tummy or cold and flu symptoms
Marigold, licorice root, red clover, raspberry, or fennel for women’s health
Dandelion for liver detox (after you drink too many cocktails)
Chamomile, lavender or valerian for insomnia and relaxation: Chamomile has even been shown to act like antihistamines and calm allergies.
Hibiscus tea for bringing down blood pressure: a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that drinking three 8 oz cups a day was linked to systolic bp drop by 7.2 points.
Please note that, like all medicines, some herbs may be toxic or allergenic! So do your research before you drink up and make sure to talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your health.
Ways to enjoy
Afternoon tea: Earl Grey with a plant-based milk (I love almond milk, but soy milk has a creamier texture) and sugar. Or make it healthier by using agave nectar instead of sugar!
Chai tea: Heat up some soymilk and brew your Chai tea directly in the milk. Add agave nectar or sugar to make it sweeter.
Hot toddy: Black tea (choose something that you don’t mind being overpowered by whiskey), lemon, agave nectar, and whiskey.
Herbal tea: By your bedside table with a hint of sweetener (if you prefer) and a good book.
Flowering teas look beautiful in clear glass pots or cups.
Moroccan mint tea (which is delicious).
What are your favorite teas?
Also by Sam: Autumn Cocktails You’ll Love
Photo: Girl With a Tea via Flickr; Taylor Gabriela via Flickr; thunderbolt tea via Flickr; Samantha Lester; milchypuder via Flickr; rdpeyton via Flickr