Before I begin, please note that I do not claim to be a “tea connoisseur” of any sort, and until now, most of my tea drinking has been of the pulverized, dusty and cheap mesh bag variety. That being said, I refuse to be held responsible for offending those of you with snootier taste buds and a more elite sense of how tea drinking should be conducted.
In fact, if you’d like to learn more about how one might drink or prepare tea “correctly”, allow me to refer you to the following resources: How To Make Tea is a nice read. How to make a perfect cup of tea – British style is shorter, but still interesting. For a more generic read and simple how-to, check out How to Make Tea: 8 steps (with video).
Supposing you actually did read all of the above articles as I have, you’ll quickly come to realize that tea preparation greatly varies from person to person as well as from culture to culture. So while there might be a more widely accepted way to prepare and drink tea, it ultimately boils down to individual preference.
… Get it?
Did you catch that?
I’m not sure you caught that one. It was a pun. Go back and read it again.
With my lack of tea knowledge sufficiently introduced and my many excuses for lazy preparation made, please now feast your eyes on the newest addition to my adorable kitchenware collection, the ceramic Rilakkuma Cafe mug. ^____^!!
Isssssnnnn’tttt ittttt cuuuuuuuuutttteeeeee?!?!?!?!?!
Assuming many of you will react with, “OMGITSSOCUTEWHEREDIDYOUGETITTELLMENOWWW”, I picked it up from this adorable little shop in San Francisco called Kawaii Corner for an overpriced $23 USD. I have this unhealthy fascination with endearingly twee objects, so when I’m tagging along with @RichIGN to Cards & Comics Central, I putz around in Kawaii Corner next door.
Some of you may be wondering, “Why does it have a lid, Cheri?”
Goodness. I am so glad you asked!
The lid serves as a steam-trapping mechanism for the tea strainer inside, allowing whatever loose leaf tea I pour into my new mug to retain heat. Amazing! You know you want one.
I’ve seen these sort of mugs being sold in places like Starbucks and in novelty gift stores here in the city, but I could never really justify the price of purchasing one until I saw this particular piece. IT’S JUST SO FREAKING CUTE. <( -____-“)> I couldn’t help myself. I actually purchased it alongside a Hello Kitty bath mat and hot pink Hello Kitty decal for my 15” MacBook Pro.
I’m fucking pathetic and share the same tastes as my four year old niece.
Anyhoo, what’s the point of buying a mug if you don’t put it to good use, right?
Luckily, I happen to own a tiny little jar full of loose leaf tea from Peet’s Coffee & Tea shop. This particular blend is “Winter Solstice”, only available during the holidays and actually one of the most popular blends that Peet’s Coffee sells. … Well, according to the Internet, anyway.
One teaspoon full of the stuff is enough to make a nice, aromatic cup of Winter Solstice tea.
Now, here is where my method of tea preparation diverges from typical advice.
Rather than steeping the tea in the kettle itself …
I dump that shit right into my strainer.
Suck it, tea snobs!
Please do not send me a list of reasons why I shouldn’t make tea this way. I already know why. I’ve read up on it many times before, and I realize that leaving the tea in a strainer doesn’t give the leaves enough room to “breathe”.
But c’mon, man.
This isn’t an article on how to make tea like a pro.
This is how to make tea when you’re a busy freelance writer who wants her tea right-the-fuck now and isn’t patient enough to brew it correctly.
Here is where that little ceramic cover comes in handy.
Trapping in the steam from the brewing tea, this cute little lid now treats your mug as if it were a covered tea pot. INGENIOUS. Rilakkuma Cafe Tea Mug — pioneering the way in convenient loose leaf tea brewing.
At this point, I let my tea sit for 2 minutes while I busy myself doing other things like surfing Twitter, scrolling through my dashboard on Tumblr, or responding to emails and comments from readers.
Let’s admire my adorable mug while we wait for the tea to brew. Stare at that picture for one minute and soak in just how cute it is!
Well done. One more minute admiring the other side of my mug, and we should be set to go.
Tadaa! Uncover the tea and mmmmm — it smells so good! Winter Solstice is a blend of black tea, spices, and citrus that really comes alive after it’s had a good soak.
Unfortunately, I’m something of a pussy when it comes to drinking tea straight. I like all of my drinks watered down or sweetened. And while I’ve definitely heard tea enthusiasts harp on the idea of sweetening your tea, I really just don’t care. I will pour in as much sugar, honey, milk or lemon as I want.
And I do!
Mmmm, honey! While white sugar sufficiently sweetens tea for me, honey has a more subtle effect that doesn’t overpower the taste of the tea. It leaves a sort of sticky-sweet after taste in the back of your throat that I can’t really describe.
I squeeze out about two teaspoons full of that amber, sticky goodness, and stir well to flavor my tea. On a more exciting day, I might slice or shave off a bit of lemon rind and plop it right into the potion for a hint of citrus goodness (but not too big a piece — lemon is strong!).
Then comes the best part:
Drink your tea! Mmmmm!
Careful; It’s really hot. Or it should be, if you made it correctly.
I like to drink tea on those lazy days when I’m laying around like a slob, hair up, & video games on the tube. Or after a stressful time spent running errands or making sure shit gets done. It’s both the perfect cap to an evening, and an even better way start to your day. Actually, it’s the perfect hot drink to have throughout the afternoon as well!
Now for a bit of honesty: I really only wrote this entry because I wanted to show off my new mug. Fortunately, I’ve probably turned many of you onto the idea of drinking tea! And even for those of you who already drink tea, I’m sure I’ve stirred up some kind of craving in you to go brew yourself a cup, yes?
You tell me: What’s your favorite kind of tea? How do you prepare yours and what do you take it with, if anything (milk, honey, etc)? Also, can you recommend any specialty shops or cafes here in the city where I can snag some new and tasty blends?
XOXO Cheri XOXO