Whilst on a call with Belinda and Patty last week I had the bright idea of writing a post about my favourite beverage after coffee, tea! We haven’t really written about tea much on Zomppa and I felt it merited some long overdue attention. Little did I realize at this stage the magnitude of the chest that I had just dived into. I mean, come on, tea has such an extensive history going way back to B.C. times, and there are thousands of varieties out there. It is a fundamental part of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, British, Middle-Eastern, and many other cultural heritages (had to draw a line somewhere) and after water, is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.
In doing some research for this post I figured I should ask some of my fellow Zomppas for their tea preferences and habits, and also some folks on Facebook. In so doing, I have discovered at least three new blends of tea that I absolutely have to test out. I have appended the string of varied responses at the bottom of the post and hope this post will generate lots more discussion on our comments section so that I and others, can discover some new tea varieties and cultures to test out. So please, tell me about your favourite tea!
Ok, so are you all ready for your history lesson?
The human race has been drinking tea for thousands of years. History/legend has it that tea was discovered in 2737 B.C.E. by China’s mythical second emperor, Shen Nung, when leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant happened to land into an open pot of hot water he had. History then narrates that the beverage went on to become popular in Korea and Japan, and then throughout Asia and the Middle East. Tea started to establish a presence in Western culture in the 1600s and 1700s, but owing to its expense, only the upper classes could afford it. By the 19th century, the cost of tea came down and a booming trade between the East and West unfolded. Incidentally, did you know that the development of the teabag was quite by accident? In 1908, a tea tradesman named Thomas Sullivan started putting loose tea in little silk bags and sent them to his clients who then mistakenly put the bag in their hot water without opening it.
What thoughts or images come to mind when you think of tea? My first recollection of drinking tea was when I was about six or seven hanging out with my friends after school in the town of Quartu S. Elena, Italy. They were of Iranian background so their parents served Persian tea (a loose tea blend usually made up of black teas like Darjeeling and Earl Grey, often with a hint of cardamon or rose water) in little glass cups along with sugar cubes. On many occasions, they also brought out their samovar, an originally Russian metal device that heats water and keep it warm. I absolutely loved the fragrance and taste of that tea, and as I got older, I was allowed stronger servings. The teapot holding the tea leaves pours out a very strong blend which certainly needs to be watered down.
When we moved to Northern Ireland, I was then surrounded by people drinking strong black tea with milk in it. Sorry Brits, Irish, and Indians, but despite having lived on these shores intermittently for some 15 years, I have never warmed to the taste of tea with milk in it. It is still my mother’s preferred choice of tea and when I am at home, I usually sip on some Punjana, one of Northern Ireland’s leading tea brands (incidentally, they do export to the U.S.).
Over the years, I have tried many teas and have many favourites which include Jasmine Green Tea, Earl Grey, Ginger and Lemon, fresh loose Chamomile, sweet tea with fresh mint, and more recently Twinings Rose Garden tea. Interestingly enough though, if I had to pick one particular tea at the exclusion of others, I would have to go back to my weekday afternoons spent in Italy at my friends’ place after school sipping the delicious brew of Persian tea that their mother always had simmering on the stove as we watched cartoons. Nothing beats that!
What others had to say:
Zomppa Belinda: “Man. ALL TEAS. Seriously. I am not a coffee drinker, I am a tea drinker. I don’t like fruity teas though! I love jasmine tea, white tea, English breakfast tea…I drink mine black. But my usual? Every morning I drink Lungching green tea.”
Zomppa Patty: Yerba mate, chai or english breakfast tea.
Zomppa Lys: I drink a lot of Jasmine and Green Tea, but I love mint tea too!
Zomppa Lena: I guess maybe almond tea, because its so sweet and fragrant. Very relaxing.
Zomppa Liz: I have lots of favorite teas! But I think chamomile, from the flowers (v. tea baggies), is my favorite. I grew up with all sorts of herbs and teas in glass jars sitting on the counters of the kitchen, and chamomile is one of the prettiest to me. The women in my family swear by it’s soothing powers, good for tummies and for sleeping.
Alaistair in Northern Ireland: Chai when I need something tasty other than coffee otherwise, Lady Grey.
Hazel in Northern Ireland: Other than a cup of tea that someone else made for me, good bog standard black tea with milk in it. Second spot goes to Persian tea.
Mojdeh in Seattle: Love rooibos! Also a good, fresh, loose leaf peppermint tea.
Gemma in Northern Ireland: Another lover of Rooibos and mint tea “because it’s delicious and better for you than black tea but without the nasty dryness of green tea and mint tea because it is so yummy and great for your digestion.
Nami in Spain: While coffee is his beverage of choice, Persian tea is his preference
Victor in Finland: likes white tea with mint
Anisa in Dubai: Sadaf Persian tea with cardamon
Kimmo in Finland: Organic peppermint and liquorice with honey. He highly recommends Numi teas.
Dorothy in Italy: Roiboos but also peppermint in the mornings.
Michelle in Northern Ireland: One of her favourite blends comes from Pukka Herbs and is called love tea, a sweet floral infusion of rose, chamomile and lavender.
Sanura of MyLifeRunsonFood gave a most delicious description of her tea experience every day: Japanese green tea is my favorite. I make a 2 cup pot almost every morning, steeping the leaves for 2.30 to 3 minutes. Then the same leaves are steeped again for 6 minutes for a second pot of tea. For the third pot, a little mint leaves is added for more flavor, and the tea is steeped for 9 minutes. This is done throughout the day. The first pot is stronger with more caffeine for the mornings. The last pot is more herbal with less caffeine, which is more appropriate for early evenings.
So, come on, spill! What’s your favourite tea?
Oh and everything you want to know about tea can be found on this great website In Pursuit of Tea.