My idea of relaxing involves a good read and tea. Whilst I'm still dreaming of the day I'll have my own personal library (it'll happen!), it's lucky that we have plenty of teas to choose from at home.
Quite literally, two levels of our fridge and kitchen pantry is filled with teas that mum has collected over the years. She can't go a day without a cup of tea and so she's managed to hoard an impressive stash of canisters and old coffee jars filled with Chinese black, green and oolong teas.
Everyone in the house enjoys tea, except for dad. We have a tendency to prefer tea as it is, and rarely drink mixes or fruit blends. I love the fresh and pure taste of a good tea and am always on the lookout for something that meets this standard. I've started to branch out beyond mum's teas and have begun my own tea collection.
I thought I'd share a couple of my favourites!
1. Bi Luo Chun - the 'most aromatic green tea'
Bi Luo Chun is one of China's most famous green teas. It used to be enjoyed in the Imperial Court and is liked for its fresh aromatic taste. The tea does not go through a fermentation process, which just means that it's able to retain its natural antioxidants and vitamins. It is often rolled into tight spirals which unravel once in hot water. It's quite a sight if you've never seen this happen!
I like to let the Bi Luo Chun brew until its leaves are half unravelled in my teapot. The water first turns green and then a yellow-ish colour. This is indicative of its flavours being released!
In comparison to Japanese green teas, Chinese green teas tend to be milder and sweeter. This Bi Luo Chun is light, fresh and very smooth on the palate. It has a sweet jasmine aftertaste that makes me come back for more. Like most Chinese green teas, it can get a tiny bit bitter if the tea/water ratio isn't carefully handled. I'm no expert, so I operate on a trial and error basis!
Bi Luo Chun is really refreshing and so I think it's especially good for yum cha or a Chinese dinner. I also like drinking this in the morning because the flavour is clean and very, very fragrant. It's a lovely wake up call! My brother likes this chilled in the summer and will drink it throughout the day.
2. Irish Breakfast - the 'strong like a coffee' tea
I love Irish Breakfast and am always gifting this to my friends who rely on coffee to make it through their day. For me, this black tea is stronger than coffee if I brew two teaspoons in a small teapot. I'll drink 3-4 cups and I'll be up on night. I take this first thing in the morning and it powers me through the night!
This is because it has a higher caffeine level than other green or white teas, making it stronger than most. Whilst it has a lesser amount of caffeine than that in a coffee, for me, it's stronger than a latte with one sugar. I drank this practically everyday last year when I had to stay up a lot!
As my friend describes it, Irish Breakfast is 'like English Breakfast but not'. I find Irish Breakfast to be more full-bodied, richer and maltier. It's more of a hearty, savoury tea that goes well with a big breakfast or even a high tea. I especially love this with scones and ribbon sandwiches!
3. Rose Tea - 'my favourite fragrance in a cup' tea
It actually took me awhile to find some rosebuds that didn't look or taste artificial. Rose buds are very popular in Hong Kong and they're easy to find in Chinese heralist stores. But they tend to stock the kind that smell and taste like they've been artificially dealt with.
I still have a few tins of them left over and they're lovely for foot baths, but not great for drinking.
For me, the rose buds pictured have just the right amount of colouring and they taste very natural. It's not a strong or overpowering tea, instead it gives a more gentler taste on the palate.
I started drinking rose tea because it's supposed to relax and calm. I love roses, so drinking rose tea is just the cherry on top. I'm not surprised that it calms me because so does a rose latte and some rose jam! I just really like the flavour and, therefore, whenever it is brewed, it's my cue to sit back and just be in the moment.
I like mine hot but this can be drunk chilled. I just find that cold rose water tastes bland and needs some honey or Lu Han Guo water to bring out its flavour.
4. Chamomile Tea - the 'keep calm and breathe' tea
Research suggests that chamomile tea can help alleviate insomnia, boost your immune system, calm nerves and soothe menstrual camps. Whether it's a placebo effort or not, I find it working for me in the area of stress relief.
I just love the smell of it when it's freshly brewed. The whole kitchen smells floral and just plain calming. The taste is subtle and slightly sweet. I've been drinking this a lot lately because I'm really liking the flavour.
This is great towards the end of the day, when I'm trying to get the last few cups of water into my system. I generally scoop 2 teaspoons into a teapot and drink it until it starts to lose its flavour and colour. The chamomile itself also turns pulpy and then I toss it out.
Are you a tea drinker? What types of teas do you like?