Our world is filled with whacked out challenges, so what to do? Take a timeout today with Virginia for a little calm and lots of fantabulous tea.
For tea groupies like Virginia, tea is something to be enjoyed whether sitting at a desk or taking time out for a lush tea with a full plate of treats.
Tea in the morning. Tea in the afternoon. Tea in the evening.
Tea can be daintily sipped, but also slurped on the go. There is a big dilemma for tea groupies, though. With so many grand teas out there, how to choose which one to brew?
Although a long list of favorites (and a big tea cabinet) make daily tea selections a fun exercise, today Virginia invites you to sample ten of her current top favs. Favorites tend to evolve discovering new teas, but that’s as it should be.
Disclaimer: Virginia is an equal opportunity tea drinker of black teas, green teas, red teas and herbal teas – loose leaf AND teabags.
#1: STASH TEA Virginia has been ordering loose leaf teas from Stash Tea, based in Portland Oregon, for years and years. Their 100g bags are a great value for high quality tea. Yes, we can buy Stash teabags in grocery stores here, but their loose leaf blends are fabulous. The last few years their “Everest First Flush Nepalese” black tea has been my top favorite, what I save to share @ teatime with tea groupie friends or brew on a challenging day as a pick-me-up. Their “Empress Grey” has been a longtime family favorite, brewed almost every day for Mama and Papa’s morning tea. Of their readily available teabags, “Breakfast in Paris” is another black tea fav.
#2: The Republic of Tea has many grand teas (loose leaf and teabags) that Virginia has enjoyed over the years, but this Vanilla Almond black tea has been one of my favorites for eons. Friends have asked, “Virginia, what is the best tea you’ve ever tasted?” Visiting Vienna years ago I had a pot of Macadamia Nut tea at a tea cafe next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Best tea, ever! I could not acquire tea-leaves-to-go as the tea shop was closed and I was leaving Austria the next morning, but this Vanilla Almond Tea gives off similar delectable nutty vibes.
#3: Darjeeling has been called “the Champagne of teas” for good reason, it tastes divine. Darjeeling has always been one of Virginia’s go-to favorites – anywhere, anytime! This Taylors of Harrogate loose leaf is a lovely blend, but I also rotate through other tea cabinet Darjeelings (tea bags and loose leaf packaged from local shops.) As my brother once said, “I must drink my Darjeeling, to get in touch with my inner feeling!”
#4: Virginia is a huge groupie of Christmas teas, not just in December. It’s fun to crank up Christmas carols and have a cup of holiday tea in the summer. Definitely a spirit-lifter-upper. As December nears, however, it’s time for Christmas Tea every day (several times a day since there are so many kinds of holiday teas!) I have always enjoyed Stash “Christmas Morning” (a blend of black and green teas), their “Christmas in Paris” black tea, and their herbal Christmas Eve loose leaf. Twinings Christmas Tea has also been a top, top favorite (when it can be found.) Last December I tried the Darvilles of Windsor Christmas Tea – the flavor burst of orange in this holiday black tea has quickly become an absolute favorite.
#5: Harney & Sons “Jane’s Garden Tea” is Virginia’s favorite green tea, an absolute delight. Although a hardcore black tea drinker, years ago Virginia had to cut back her black tea intake (doctor’s orders) so she ventured into the world of green teas. At first green tea tasted like seaweed (yuck!) Learning to steep it at the correct temperature (175F) what a difference, and what delicate flavors emanate from green teas properly brewed! (It helps that brother treated for special electric kettle that has buttons for different tea temps.)
Now a plethora of green tea fills Virginia’s tea cabinet, all so delicately lovely, a great way to start each day in Virginia’s first pot every morning.
#6: Continuing with Harney & Sons teas, this Tower of London black tea blend has honey overtones, delightful for an afternoon pick-me-up. Harney & Sons make such lovely tea blends, there are usually two or three tins on the go in Virginia’s tea cabinet. Their Tropical Green Tea is another fav along with their herbal African Autumn rooibos blend that Virginia drinks all year round.
#7a: Virginia first encountered rooibos tea while working in Tanzania. A strong red bush herbal tea, it stands up well to milk. This amazing red bush tea can be flavored so many ways – the Republic of Tea’s “Good Hope Vanilla” is a yummy mix of vanilla and rooibos that’s a pick-me-up, without the jitters of caffeine.
Cutting down on her caffeine intake, Virginia’s tea cabinet maintains a significant stash of herbal rooibos teas – because they also taste great!
#7b: With a huge range of flavored fruity teas and blends, grocery stores here usually have multiple rows of Twinings teas on offer. Since Virginia makes at least one pot of rooibos every day (sometimes two) Twinings rooibos blends have become favorites. Their Orange Cinnamon Spice is one of my brother’s favorites (mine, too) but I also like their “Pure Rooibos Herbal Tea” that’s straight up comfort in a cup. I am also an over the top groupie of Twining’s “Honeybush, Mandarin & Orange” herbal tea. A joyful cup of orange to brighten any dark evening.
#8: Ahmad Tea’s Apple Refresh is a remarkable black tea. There is a huge flavor burst of apple in every sip, a truly delectable experience for green apple aficionados like Virginia. I discovered Ahmad Tea at the Mediterranean Bakery in Richmond, VA (while stockpiling their 5-star hummus and Middle Eastern treats.) All the Ahmad teas we’ve tried have been lovely, but the Apple Refresh is extraordinarily amazing. It reminds me of drinking apple tea while visiting Turkey when I lived in the Middle East. Loveliness in a cup!
#9: Two of Virginia’s favorite things: tea and chocolate. Usually enjoyed separately, but finding them together in Ambessa’s Choco Nut Blend, wow, a tasty treat! Ambessa is an imprint of Harney & Sons that brings a world of flavor alive and also supports global organizations like UNICEF.
#10: Barry’s Irish Breakfast tea is a great way to caffeine up for whatever morning stress is coming your way. A nice hearty tea that can be taken with milk, or taken straight up. Whichever way you choose, it’s a great way to wake up!
Hope you enjoyed this sampling of Virginia’s favorite teas. Since her favorites are ever evolving, please share your favorite tea in the comments (it’s fun trying something new!)
grace, peace & tea groupies
Virginia : )
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S. Lewis