The most usual thing in the worls is to see me with a big mug in my hands or by my side while I'm at home - reading, working on the computer, cooking, takig care of my place, talking to people...
As with anything that comes out of my kitchen, I like to expertiment new blends, that's the number
one reason to desencourage me from using tea bags.
The second one is I find them kind of bland, and for a good reason: it's usual that tea bags come in packages that won't preserve aroma nor flavor, even before breakig the seal.
The thin paper boxes allow for volatile compounds of the ingredients to evaporate (and guess what? That's exactly where flavor usually lays).
Only tin packages or glass jars kept away from light can stop that from happening, or resistent plastic ziploc packages.
Moving on the list, there is the fact that ingredients bought in bulk are, generally speaking, less
processed, fresher (because they stay in shelf for shorter periods), there is less package waste & they are cheaper.
Plus, there is a good point I came across recently in an article article I read about the possible toxicity in paper and plastic tea bags (and, again: using them yields unnecessary waste. There are infusers out there that are quite functional allowing to prepare the tea directly in the mug, with no need to strain).
Now I told you why I prefer loose tea, I tell you how I think the blends, something - I suppose - I got the hang of after falling in love with chai.
Iusually think of a base flavor (something relatevely neutral, subtle, such as black tea, green tea, rooibos, passion fruit leaves, mauve leaves, toasted mate, sometimes dry fennel seeds. The list grows ever longer) along with about 3 spices or herbs that compliment each other.
Of course, there can be more ingredients or less, it depends on what is available and how much my inner alchemist is enthusiastic in a given day.
There is also the option to add milk or some other kind of fat, which makes the infusion particularly comforting and rich.
Could be cow milk, vegetable milk (almond, coconut, rice, oat, Brazil nuts, etc), or even a few drop of vegetable oil.
The ones I have already used are coconut and raw sesame seed oil, which are subtle.
I will stay away from sunflower, canola, soy, corn, cotton. They got a strong taste that does not go well with tea and might ruin the show, even using very little.
Anyway, test the ideas you come up with. That's the best way to figure weather something works or not.
Lastly, the sweetness. I almost never sweeten tea, but when I do, it's eith honey.
For some blends, I think molasses/ brown sugar/ rapadura brick sugar would be great.
Aside from those, there was this one time I got a wonderful maple-infused black tea as a gift - which brings me ideas of having tea with maple again.
Anyway. As an example, I'm sharing with you a tea I prepared for the first time at the end of a very hot and very busy day. I'll tell you what: it worked like a charm.
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 cardamom pods (cut they're skin to expose seeds) or 1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom
2 teaspoons dry peppermint leaves or a handful fresh leaves
4 teaspoons loose leaf green tea
1 cup hot water (I turn off the heat when I notice it's about to boil)
6 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
Ice cubes, as needed
Iced water enough to fill the glasses (in case you serve the tea hot, heat another 3 cups)
(Cup measure: 250ml).
I heated 1 cup water and turned off the heat only before it would boil.
I threw in the ginger, cardamom, peppermint and green tea, and let the ingredients infuse, lidded, for 5 minutes.
Then I strained the mixture, added honey and coconut milk.
Divided it in 2 equal parts, pouring each half into a glass with capacity to hold 2 cups.
I filled them with ice and added iced water to top, stirring well, and serves immediately.
If you are serving it hot, just swap the glasses for mugs with equal capacity and top them with warm water.
Serves 2 people.
Whenever I drink tea, I try to have an idea of how the ingredients will interact with my body. In fact, that's valid for any food, but what I mean here is specially regarding the calming x stimulating.
If someone wants to stay alert and drinks chamomile tea, it probably won't do much harm. Now, the opposite is something to worry about.
I, unaware, have spent one wide awake night because of green mate.
Among others, black tea, green tea, yerba mate, toasted mate are stimulating and contain plenty of caffeine.
Pregnant ladies should also pay attention, for some ingredients might induce contractions (examples are: cinnamon, chamomile and rosemary).
What about you, how do you enjoy tea?