The other day Kat told me an interesting story. She was at a grocery store that was sampling iced teas and she decided to give them a try. There was a black, a green, and a white tea to taste. Kat was sipping on the green tea when a young woman approached the table and asked for a ‘regular’ tea, ‘you know, like Lipton’. Kat decided to strike up a conversation with the woman, because before aunt Char opened up the world of tea to her, she only knew teabags from that very brand.
She first explained to the woman that the ‘regular’ tea she’s come to know is actually black tea. Kat explain a little bit about how all tea comes from the same plant, camellia sinensis, but depending on location, processing, and plant variety the tea can taste quite different. They sampled the teas at the store and Kat explained a bit more about how the differ.
After tasting the black tea, the woman asked Kat what ‘orange pekoe’ is, since she has seen it mentioned on the tea box she has at home. She was confused, since she didn’t taste any orange flavor in the tea. Kat explained that orange pekoe actually has nothing at all to do with the flavor of the tea. It’s part of the grading system for the leaf size. The term originates all the way back to the Dutch East India Company when they were importing teas from Indian to Britain. The exact origin of the word isn’t known, but it has nothing to do with flavor. It just means it is the top tea leaf right before the new bud. The entire leaf grading system is a bit more involved, and you can read a little bit about it here. Dearies, I think I need to write about this in an upcoming post, don’t you?
After their tea conversation, Kat guided her new friend to the tea aisle in the grocery store and showed her how many different varieties there were to choose from. Loose leaf and bagged tea, there were black teas, flavored, green, oolong, and white teas to choose from. There was even a matcha to try. Kat encouraged the woman to keep an open mind, and pick up a few new teas to take home. There is much more than one type of bagged tea to try, and the quality can be far better than what she was used to.
Dearies, do you have friends that have only had one type of tea, from one brand? Kat likes to hold regular tea parties, and even has an office tea tasting once a month or so. She loves showing her friends there is a wide world of tea out there!
She urged her new friend to also seek out grocery stores that cater to different cultures. There is an Indian grocery store not far from where they were, and she suggested a visit. Kat picked up a surprisingly delicious powdered Masala Chai from Tea India there recently and the sweet, spicy flavor has been perfect for afternoon winter warm-ups. Kat was so surprised at how well the blend of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves works harmoniously in a powdered mix. She reaches for it every weekend after a chilly day of exploring the outdoors or even after a long day of errands. If you’d like to try this tea for yourself, you can visit the Tea India website here.
You can travel the globe with a cup of tea! There is far more to tea than Lipton, indeed. If you’re just starting your tea journey, keep an open mind! Try all the teas you can. Start with your local grocery stores and see what they’ve got. If you have a tea shop in town, be sure to sample as much as possible and become friendly with the staff. Even if you’re not fond of a tea, don’t give up on that type just yet. Try a few different brands and varieties before you totally rule it out. Most importantly, enjoy your tea journey!