In The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, George Gissing wrote, “The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose.”
I can’t agree more, although a proper Englishman like Gissing might not have approved of everything I’m about to discuss. I’d like to share with you three of my favorite teas for winter. There’s nothing like curling up with a hot mug of fresh tea or herbal tea on a cold winter day or night. The health benefits of tea are seemingly endless. From lowering cholesterol to easing stomach indigestion, the Camellia sinensis plant is really quite special. No wonder the British Empire ran on tea from around the world.
Before we begin, here’s an important note to keep in mind. If you haven’t experienced these previously, we think the following three teas should be tried without adding sweeteners or dairy products your first few times. These additives will completely change the spice and natural sweetness of good quality teas themselves. The more your experiment, the more you’ll come to admire the subtle undertones each tea and even each type of leaf offers.
Orange spice tea is black tea with dried orange, cinnamon, lemon balm, clove, and lime leaves. This tea is extremely fragrant and is great to drink in the morning or early afternoon for an energy boost. If you drink orange spice tea when not laden down with a big meal in your stomach, it actually makes you feel charged and rejuvenates the senses. I honestly feel more present and in the moment when I drink it in the afternoon without a lot of food.
I like to drink most of my teas plain, without any additives, such as milk, sugar or honey. But, I did once make it for a friend who takes cream with her tea, so I had no cream in my fridge, only Silk Coconut Milk and Silk Almond Milk. I then heated up half a cup of the coconut milk on low heat without bringing it to a boil and slowly poured a little more than a tablespoon into the steeped orange spice, it came out tasting like orange creamsicle. Yum!
Try one teaspoon or a little more for each cup. Use boiling water and steep for four minutes. There are many recipes online for making your own orange spice tea. Accordingly, you’ll want to experiment to find the level of intensity you prefer.
Creme Earl Grey, a.k.a. Earl Grey Cream, a.k.a. Cream of Earl Gray is a sultry version of Earl Grey. It’s a mixture of tart bergamot orange, creamy Madagascar vanilla and blue cornflowers blended with Earl Grey black tea. A full leaf tea, it has a sensual, sweet finish. This tea is naturally caffeinated and is best to drink in the morning, afternoon or post dinner. I prefer to drink Creme Earl Grey straight, so I experience the true sweetness of the Madascar vanilla and tart of the bergamot orange. Sometimes I like to ramble, but if I were pressed to sum it up, I’d have to take the easy route and simply call it rich and creamy. If you prefer a subdued or enhanced sweetness, add milk or honey to your liking.
Some general rules for prepping this tea are one and a half teaspoons for each cup. Heat the water to about 208 degrees Farenheit (just below boiling) and steep three to five minutes. If you like yours with milk or cream, make sure you heat it, but not boil it. This will make for a better experience when adding it to your hot tea. As with most things, you can tweak these guidelines to your taste, experiment a few times and you’ll eventually dial-in what you like best. Enjoy!
Ginger Root tea is full of health benefits. In fact, it’s probably the most beneficial of the three teas discussed here. It’s high in potassium, and also has silicon, which is good for hair, skin, teeth and nails. The manganese in it is great for your immune system and protects the lining of your heart, blood vessels and urinary tract.
My husband Ron takes chewable ginger pills when he goes on long boat rides to scuba dive, as it’s nature’s best anti-nausea drug. That’s the reason pediatricians still tell parents to give their kids with stomach viruses to sip flat ginger ale. Ginger increases the production of digestive juices, making it the perfect after-dinner tea. Some people put honey into their ginger tea. Others won’t drink it without a slice of orange or lemon.
We like to use one tablespoon of loose ginger tea for every two cups of water. Pour boiling water into teapot and steep for five minutes. Pour into cups through a strainer.
Here’s a little added bonus you can do with your ginger tea. Our guests love when we make our own ginger soda. Brew some strong ginger tea by using more than the above recommendation. Experiment and see what tastes good to you regarding strength. Steep it for at least ten minutes, but up to twenty isn’t going to hurt you. Put in some natural honey and squeeze fresh lemon juice into it. Mix well, pour over ice, and add sparkling water. If we’re feeling fancy, we’ll garnish each glass with a slice of lemon.
We’ve become big advocates of brewing loose tea. That’s something Gissing would approve of. There’s something wonderful about the ritual of measuring out some tea leaves and letting them steep in a beautiful tea pot the way your grandmother or great-grandmother did. Just make sure you have a strainer, as seen in the photo above, and you’re in for a treat you just don’t get with tea bags from the supermarket.
As with all foods, the less-processed, the better with tea. We recommend you avoid the supermarkets and look for your teas at independent coffee houses and tea shops. Health food stores also offer premium brands, but they’re typically bagged, as opposed to loose tea. Either way, seek out organic teas, as there’s plenty of chemicals in tea from Mother Nature, and your body doesn’t need more things from scientists’ laboratories.
Be good to yourself and brew yourself a pot of delicious tea. Feel free to share what you like and we’ll pass it along to our readers. Until then, keep warm!