Hi tea and coffee lovers! At least I hope you are.

This is my blog on teas and coffees. Both are part of my life. I know some people are tea-lovers and others coffee-lovers but I just enjoy both, each in their place. It's kind of like cats and dogs, some people love cats and others love dogs, and some of us just love both and enjoy their differences. That's part of what makes the world great! (Now, of course, if we could just enjoy the diversity of people like that too ... )

I read a saying "Better to go three days without food than one day without tea." Couldn't agree more! Tea is what makes life enjoyable, bearable even. In fact, it's the first thing I need in the morning - don't speak to me until I have my cup of tea (or at least the water boiling to make it)! But usually I move on to coffee for "elevenses" (did I say I'm a Brit) and then back to tea for "afternoon tea" which officially should be around 4 o'clock, but I'm not that fussy. And then if I'm eating at home (which in these tough economic times is definitely the norm) we drink iced "mugicha" (roasted barley tea). Or if we're eating Chinese style food, we drink oolong tea. But if I eat out, or with guests, I'll have a cup of coffee with, or more often instead of, dessert.

So, let's start with teas. A nice "cuppa" is what I need to relax, revive, and just breathe. I'm happy to drink regular Liptons black tea with milk any time of the day. I love different types of tea too. But the other types I only drink 1 cup in a day, more than that just doesn't work for me. I love a cup of green tea around lunch time, seems to help with the digestion. I'll go for a good fruity (peach, blackberry, orange, lemon, whatever) flavored tea when I need something different. Of course the "lemon zinger" types are great with honey when I have a cold. And then there's ginseng tea which is just a great overall pick-me-up, love it as is or with a touch of honey. And then there's other types of black tea too, Lapsang souchong for a smoky experience, Earl Grey for that amazing "perfumed" taste, wonderful chais with spices, it's really quite endless. And let's not forget all the iced tea possibilities! So, hopefully blogs on all these different types will follow as I feel inspired.

And then there's coffee. My husband and I joke that this is our "essential thing" for getting anything done. We drink it with Half-and-half, a small luxury but I can't stand filling the mug with 2% milk or even whole milk and having the coffee go cold by the time it's changed to the color I like. I love the creamy taste of the half-and-half to balance the strong coffee taste. We buy whole bean coffee and grind it, usually not the expensive stuff but just grinding it and brewing it makes it seem more special. We also add some flavored beans, usually hazelnut but vanilla is good too, to the regular beans to get a hint of flavor without being overpowered by it. Mm, think I need to go brew some coffee now!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Flavored teas - Mix them up!

Flavored teas come in a pretty diverse variety of choices already, so it might seem unnecessary to mix them up. But what I mean is that sometimes a flavored tea has too much flavor, or the flavor is just a bit too overpowering and needs a bit of balancing.

So the first option is just to add some more "unflavored" tea to tone it down. If you have a flavored black tea, maybe Lapsang Souchong, and the smoky flavor is a bit overpowering, just mix it with some regular black tea like a Orange Pekoe. In my college days we used to do that a lot. Going to college in Scotland we made our tea in a teapot, using loose leaf tea not with individual tea bags for each person, so it was important to get a mix that everyone liked! I guess some of our friends didn't like the Lapsang Souchong so much, so we made it less potent by mixing it with black tea. Lapsang Souchong is a bit of an acquired taste, kind of like drinking tea while being at a bonfire and inhaling the smoke! So most of the time we didn't make a pure Lapsang Souchong pot of tea. Of course, that might also have been a way to save money, Lapsang Souchong being more expensive than regular black tea and we were poor students on a limited budget! But, I like to think we were motivated by a desire to share something we really liked (the smoky flavor of Lapsang Souchong tea) with all our friends.

Another option is to mix two flavored teas together. Here my ideal is to mix Lapsang Souchong with Earl Grey tea. While I love them both, I have to admit that most Earl Grey tea is a little bit like drinking perfume! That bergamot oil that gives it the special flavor is actually used for perfume too so that's not surprising. So, rather than just tone it down by adding more black tea, a more exciting option (particularly if you're partial to the smokiness of Lapsang Souchong) is to add a portion of the Lapsang Souchong to the brew. Now that's a delicious pot of tea!