How adorable is that mug? The wonderful Laura — my friend who visited DC a few weeks ago and ate / drank her way through the Drink the District Festival with THT and me — sent this combination from Tea Forte for my birthday, and I couldn’t be happier. That beautiful, cherry blossom-esque mug-and-metal-steeper set (it’s ceramic!) and fragrant English Breakfast tea blend now have a permanent place in my kitchen. Hurrah!
This lovely surprise — unsurprisingly — got me thinking about tea.
While I love my morning coffee, there are few things I find more relaxing than a steaming mug of tea. I saw a quotation recently on Pinterest — “If a cup of tea can’t solve it, then you’ve got a real problem.” And after a long, tough day of educating young minds (as much as I adore them), I can’t help but agree.
With tea on the brain, I thought I’d compile a short list of my favorite blends and brews of tea. All are available in major supermarkets, so no need to scour the yellow pages (OK, who am I kidding? No need to Google) for tea shop listings. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find something new and delightful.
Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea
I started drinking tea years ago, taking a leaf from the Book of Mama GKG. She’d wrap up each day’s business with a mug of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime, a caffeine-free chamomile blend that hits the spot (of tea? haha … alright, I’m done) so perfectly. Add a drizzle of honey and a splash of lemon juice, and I’m putty in your hands. Or I’m asleep. So simple, so good.
Twinings Lady Grey Tea
Oh, Twinings Tea: You are so deliciously British. While English Breakfast, Prince of Wales, and Earl Grey are all classics, your Lady Grey might be the apex of British tea perfection. (At least to this lady. ‘Scuz me while I steep a mug or two.)
Lady Grey shares a similar profile to Earl Grey, with its heavy seasoning of bergamot. However, the Lady has hints of lemon and orange, and the delicate citrus flavor infuses the tea with a decidedly feminine flair. Can’t be beat.
The Republic of Tea Red Chai
If you’re into the spicy flavor of chai tea at all — and the long lines and steaming mugs I see at Panera suggest this is the case — try any of The Republic of Tea’s chai blends. This Red Chai is a strong red rooibos, with a full-bodied flavor that’s easily enhanced with chai-type spices (a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon? Yes, please).
For those who love a Panera-style foamy chai latte, mix 7 ounces of milk (either traditional or nut / soy) with 1 oz. of The Republic of Tea’s Chai Concentrate for a frothy, foamy treat.
Bigelow Green Tea with Peach
How’d they fit an entire peach into that tea bag? Bigelow Green Tea is a favorite of mine, but when I discovered the Peach blend, I just about died and went to tea-sipping heaven. The combination of earthy, soulful Green tea with the subtle sweetness and aromatic character of peaches makes for a killer cuppa.
Just for kicks, I’m happy to repost a delicious recipe from the wizards at Bigelow. Their site is chock full of dishes infused with their tea blends, but this Green Tea Poached Shrimp just looks so darned good, I may have to make it for dinner later this week. Happy eating!
Green Tea Poached Shrimp Stir Fry
Serves 8 — easily halved.
Green Tea Vinaigrette:
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 cup Bigelow Green Tea
- 4 tsp Hoisin Sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
Green Tea Stir-Fry:
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 12 oz. Savoy cabbage (shredded)
- 8 oz. fresh baby spinach
- 1 oz. snow peas
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 16 large raw shrimp
- 10 Bigelow Green Tea Bags
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
Here’s what you do:
- In a medium bowl, steep 10 Green Tea Bags in 5 cups of boiling water; steep for 10 minutes and set aside.
- Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a medium bowl, whisking thoroughly; set aside.
- Heat peanut oil in a pre-heated wok or deep frying pan over medium heat. Lower the temp. slightly. Add minced garlic and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add cabbage, spinach, snow peas, broccoli, bean sprouts, and salt. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add veggie stock, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in sesame oil. Mix thoroughly.
- In a large skillet, add 4 cups of green tea, garlic, and ginger; simmer for 10 minutes. Shell and devein the shrimp (alternately, buy previously peeled and deveined shrimp from the grocery store’s freezer section). Simmer shrimp in green tea broth for 3-4 minutes or until shrimp become pink and “curls.”
- To serve, top stir-fried veggies with poached shrimp in a large serving bowl or on individual plates. Pour vinaigrette over shrimp and vegetables, and garnish with chopped green onions & sesame seeds.
What are your favorite brews and brands of tea? If you’re more on the “coffee” side of the divide, what are your favorite coffee brands and brews? What sorts of dishes or recipes have you concocted using tea?