By Ainsley Davis
A steaming cup of tea, a good book, and a soft drizzle outside, the window cracked slightly to let the aroma of rain drift in: it sounds like the perfect combination. From matcha green tea to tangy Earl Grey to Starbucks chai tea lattes, tea can be prepared in a multitude of ways, suiting almost any palette. Each tea has specific steeping times (see the chart above) and pairs better with some add-ins than others. With a little bit of tea knowledge, anyone can make delicious drinks and enjoy the health benefits, too.
Almost every grocery store has a wide tea selection, and so does Amazon. Some stores like Sheffield Spice and Tea Co. offer unique tea blends along with teapots and infusers to enhance the experience. Wherever you decide to purchase tea, pay attention to the variety; tea bags can be used right out of the box, but loose tea will require an infuser.
After selecting a tea, the next step is to choose some add-ins. Any tea can be enjoyed on its own, but most people prefer to mix black tea with milk (regular, almond, soy, coconut) and other varieties of tea can pair well with milk, too. Steer clear of adding milk to fruit-based teas, however because they may curdle. Sweeteners such as sugar, honey, and agave make good additions to tea. Vanilla or caramel syrups pair well with chai, rooibos, and English Breakfast tea.
While tea is delicious with milk and sweetener, it can also be used to make a latte. For a simple tea latte, you’ll need:
½ cup boiling water
4 tea bags (chai, rooibos, or black tea work best)
⅔ cup milk of choice
1 tbsp sweetener (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla syrup (optional)
Place tea bags in a mug, pour boiling water in, and steep according to the chart above. While tea is steeping, heat milk in a saucepan, removing when it begins to simmer. When the tea is finished steeping, remove the tea bags, squeezing with a spoon. Add milk and sweetener to mug, stir, and enjoy.
Besides providing warmth on cold days, each type of tea has health benefits. Green and red teas are packed with antioxidants which can reduce blood sugar levels, and some scientists believe that rooibos can reduce allergy symptoms. Teas that contain lavender can reduce anxiety. Black and green tea both contain caffeine in lower levels than coffee, providing an energy boost without overwhelming those who are sensitive to caffeine. However be careful with herbal teas, as some can interact with medication in a negative way.
With so many varieties and unique flavor combinations, tea can provide health benefits and happiness to people with all different tastes.