As a young girl, my mother and I always had the tradition of tea-time together. Whether it was sipping at home from one of her fancy tea cups, or going out to a tea room on a Saturday afternoon, we always made time for this leisurely activity that fostered in me a strong love and appreciation for tea. Now with my own tea pot and glass mug, I am constantly evolving my tea habit to incorporate interesting and unusual teas to try. Below is a list of unique teas that can excite your taste buds away from your everyday green or earl grey.
Pu-erh tea has been rising in popularity recently. It is a dark fermented tea from the Yunnan province in China. Due to the caffeine in pu-erh, it is known for improving mental alertness and sharp thinking. Other health claims include weight loss, lower cholesterol and protection from cardiovascular problems. Prepare the tea as you would for most loose leaf teas. Boil water and pour the hot water over the tea leaves. Steep for up to five minutes (any longer will make the tea bitter). Pu-erh can have a flowery or stale aroma with a smooth taste. Store in a cool place away from direct sunlight.
Labrador is an evergreen shrub native to North America. The dried leaves are used as an herbal infusion to treat a variety of ailments, specifically coughs, colds, headaches, sore throat, hangovers, kidney and liver problems and malignancies. The tea is rich in vitamin C and has an earthy aroma and spicy taste. As a precaution, use small amounts to brew the tea as overdose can cause indigestion, vomiting or paralysis. Use one teaspoon of the leaves to 1 cup of water to create a weaker, safe tea.
3. Ginkgo Biloba
The Ginkgo Biloba tree is considered to be the oldest living tree in the world. I discovered this tea freshman year of college when my roommate would drink large amounts of it before exams to help improve her memory. Ginkgo is known to enhance brain function and memory. It is also claimed to have high antioxidant power and plays a huge role in blood circulation, helping to remove toxins found in arteries. Regularly drinking the tea can reduce bad cholesterol and blood clotting, boost mood and improve mental capacity. The tea has a rather woody, earthy taste; to brew, steep one teaspoon of the leaves in hot water for 10 minutes.
This nutty blend of green tea and roasted brown rice originating in Japan is extremely beneficial for health. The brown rice is a nutritious source of vitamins, minerals and flavonoids and combined with green tea becomes a super antioxidant-rich drink known to reduce cancer risk. Enjoy hot or chilled over ice.
5. Tienchi ginseng flowers
This tea derives from a plant long-prized for its medicinal properties in China. Drinking this tea can help lower cholesterol, improve blood circulation, help with heart trouble and reduce insomnia. Steep the flowers in hot water before bed to help calm down and promote a restful sleep. The tea is sweet like regular ginseng with a subtle minty taste.
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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling