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Posts Tagged ‘Earl Grey’

tea makes everything better sign

As the days grow gradually shorter and the temperatures continue to dip, my tea consumption has shot up alarmingly.

This happens every fall: after a summer of drinking blackberry sage or ginger peach tea with breakfast (and a very occasional cup in the afternoon), I start mainlining flavored black tea like it’s my job.

I stock up on certain blends when the weather begins to feel fall-ish: Boston (cranberry almond) and Cranberry Autumn (cranberry orange) from Harney, pumpkin chai from David’s Tea, lots of Earl Grey. I love the chai lattes at Darwin’s, but I mostly brew my autumnal favorites over and over again when I’m at home.

This season, I’ve been enjoying a few new teas from a company called Plum Deluxe in Portland, Oregon.

Andy, the founder of Plum Deluxe, emailed me recently to ask if I’d like to try some of his blends. I was especially intrigued by the Reading Nook tea (what a great name!), but told him I also like Earl Grey and other flavored black teas. He sent me three samples (in a purple envelope):

plum deluxe teas

The Reading Nook blend has a black tea base, but it’s very floral: it involves lavender, rose petals and chamomile. The Vanilla Latte tea (a black tea base with honeybush tea) has the sweetness of vanilla and the spice of cardamom. And the Mindful Morning tea is my favorite – it’s a twist on Earl Grey with vanilla and an extra hit of citrus.

I’ve been enjoying all three – at the kitchen table, or on the front patio when it’s warm enough.

something good mug porch

I love my standby teas, but it’s fun to try something new once in a while. And I’m always happy to spread the word about a small business that’s doing something I love. If you’re a tea drinker, I’d encourage you to check out the Plum Deluxe website.

Happy sipping! What kind of tea do you like to drink in the fall?

I received free samples of these teas in exchange for an honest review, but was not otherwise compensated for this post.

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tea mug scone

Last month, I stopped in at David’s Tea in downtown Boston, to pick up a couple of teas for a friend and refill my own tin of Cream of Earl Grey. It’s a black tea blend, little lighter than a standard Earl Grey, with a hint of vanilla to sweeten the citrus. I rediscovered it this winter and have been drinking it nearly every morning for months.

A friend who accompanied me on another David’s trip, a few months back, stared in awe at the packed shelves behind the counter, full of stout stainless-steel tins, with color-coded labels for black, green, white and herbal teas. “How do you choose?” he asked in bewilderment. I began explaining my tea preferences, but the bottom line was this: I’ve been drinking tea for a long time, and I know what I like.

blackberry peach tea tins

My annual summer tea order arrived last week, just in time for the season’s first heat wave. I order a tin of blackberry sage and one of ginger peach every year, alternating between them on the warm mornings when the trees outside shimmer with heat and the sunlight dances across the floor. I’ve been drinking these two blends since my long-ago summers as a barista at the Ground Floor, when I’d open the shop in the early mornings and pour my first cup of tea while brewing the day’s first pot of coffee.

According to my friend, I’m a bit of a tea snob these days. But I wasn’t always.

I grew up in Texas, where the tea is mostly iced and nearly always Lipton. I’m not a big iced tea drinker, so for years I thought I didn’t like tea at all. It took a barista job and a semester in Oxford to change that opinion – though once I discovered a few favorites, I never looked back.

But here’s the secret: my tea snobbery is firmly middle-of-the-road.

In Montréal a couple of years ago, I walked into a cafe-cum-tea-shop that boasted lots of expensive teas from single-origin estates high in the Himalayas (with prices to match). I was totally intimidated, and a bit put off. I realized I had no interest in distinguishing between first- or second-flush Darjeeling. Instead, I accepted the limits of my tea knowledge – and bought some La Crème des Earl Grey to take home.

These days I’m perfectly content with my sort-of-snobbish attitude to tea. I travel with my own tea bags, and keep a few in my desk at work, so I always have my favorites around. I breathe a sigh of relief when I’m out at a coffee shop or restaurant and I see that they carry a brand of tea I like: Harney & Sons, Republic of Tea, MEM Teas (based in the Boston area). And I do tend to turn up my nose if I order tea at a restaurant and the waitstaff brings me a cup of Lipton.

I feel this way about wine, too. And books, come to think of it. But that’s probably a post for another day.

Are you sort of a snob about tea, or anything else?

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Every winter, I go on a serious Earl Grey kick. I’ve written before about how my tea-drinking habits shift with the seasons – I tend to drink lighter, fruity teas in the summers and dark, spiced blends in the winter (switching to lemon-ginger if I have a cold or sore throat). But for some reason, each year from January to about mid-March finds me reaching for the Earl Grey (I have three kinds in the tea cabinet right now). It’s strong, dark and warming, but somehow that bright hint of bergamot lightens things up, making it the perfect cuppa to warm and inspire on a wintry day. (And a huge peanut-butter-chocolate-chip cookie from Bread & Chocolate doesn’t hurt either.)

Besides, ever since Shanna reminded me that it’s his favorite, I think of Captain Jean-Luc Picard when I make a cuppa.

What warming drinks do you reach for on winter days?

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