The World of Tea is a very large one... Anyone who loves tea can account for that. Tea is readily available in every country around the world. Different countries have their own way of preparing and enjoying tea time. That's why I love reading about teas from different cultures and when I travel, I always make sure I go to a proper shop for the local teas.
Many years ago, I was in the Sinai Desert visiting St. Catherine's Monastery. My first morning there, I awoke very early to see the sun rise on Mt. Sinai which surrounded the Monastery. It was a beautiful scene to witness. While sitting there on the rocks and taking in the whole experience, I looked down the hill and there was a small camp with three Sinai Bedouins making their morning tea. They used rocks to make a fire pit and had a cast iron pot sitting on top of the fire. I was so intrigued that I moved closer to get a better view. They saw me observing them and invited me for a cup of tea, so, down the hill I went. Watching them put the dried out stems and leaves from different types of plants in the boiling water, I thought to myself, "Ugh, what is this going to taste like". I had no idea at that time where tea came from or how it was produced so it seemed very primitive to me. They prepared the tea and transferred it to a metal teapot. It was all dented, tarnished and tea stained. They handed me my tea in a short slender glass cup. The tea was a dark muddy color. The glass was hot so I held it at the top of the rim and they laughed and said in Arabic, "Drink Up". I understood them by their hand gestures to drink it so, when in Rome...I drank up! It was simply delicious. It tasted like herbs with a minty after taste. I never knew what type of tea leaves they were but I would guess they were from local desert plants. Who would have thought that tea prepared in such a rustic way, in the middle of the desert could taste so good. That was my first real introduction to a world of teas outside of Lipton tea bags.
Now that I have acquired a real love for tea, I have sorted out some of my favorite teas. I will list just a couple for now because I could write a novel when it comes to tea. I will review more teas later on in another blog post.
I love all teas with Bergamot. The Earl Greys are amongst my favorites. I love that citrus flavor. It lightens the heavy taste of the black tea. For an aromatic tea, I absolutely love a Lavender Earl Grey. It is so fragrant. Rishi Tea has a fabulous Organic Lavender Earl Grey Tea. It is wonderful to drink when you just want to relax or when I am enjoying dessert. It tastes great with sweets. They are reasonably priced for a good quality great tasting tea. You can find it at the Vitamin Shoppe.
Another favorite of mine is Marriage Frères Wedding Imperial. It is golden assam tea leaves with notes of chocolate and caramel. It is so delicious but a bit pricey as it comes from Paris. A box will set you back between $24 to $30 dollars depending on where you find it. They have many wonderful teas, another favorite is their Marco Polo Tea. It is a fruity and flowery black tea. Marriages Frères carries jellies to go with some of their teas. If you ever get a chance to purchase some, do it, they are so good, you will want to eat the jelly right out of the jar.
I love the Republic of Teas "Downton Abbey Series". They have them in a bunch of flavors representing the characters from the television show. They are very tasty but I find them to be a weak tea. They are not made from strong tea leaves. If you want a potent cup of tea, you will have to use two tea bags. That is my only complaint and of course, that brings the price up because you will use it twice as fast. I still feel it is worth it because I do enjoy the flavors that they have created and anything that has to do with Downton Abbey is great in my book....
Harney and Sons is one of the best teas all around. Harney makes such good teas in so many different flavors. They are a family run business out of Connecticut and they know what they are doing when it comes to Tea. Their Paris Tea is phenomenal. It is a black tea with fruit and caramel. Hands down, one of the best teas I have ever tasted. Everyone that drinks this tea at my home, asks me what it is. All of my guests always go home with a sample because they too want to purchase it. Harney makes wonderful holiday blends and they make their Historic Royal Palace Blends which pay homage to tea's imperial history and roots. Their "Royal Palace Tea" with it's lemon and grapefruit black tea and their "Tower of London Tea" with it's pieces of dried stone fruit, bergamot and honey black tea are definitely my favorites from that collection. I use both their loose teas and their sachets. You can buy right from Harney's website and there are many online and retail shops that sell their teas. These teas are a must to try. Their prices are great, their packaging is great and their tea is great...You'll Love them!
Shopping for tea can be a daunting experience. No one likes getting all excited about trying a new tea, preparing a cup and then taking that first sip only to cringe at the taste. I've been there many times. It is so disappointing so I hope I can help steer you in the right direction. I know we may have different likes and dislikes so I am here to answer any questions and take suggestions from you too...
Stay thirsty my friends, Helen's Royal Tea House hopes your tea experience is a Royal one. Next time, I will be heading across the pond over to London where I will be reviewing some of the best Tearooms London has to offer . I hope you will join me.