I admit that I do not like coffee. I don’t even like the smell of it. I make my husband use mouthwash after he drinks it. I can go into coffee houses, but I don’t like the smell; I just don’t think about it.
So how do I get my caffeine fix? Black tea. For a long time, I got my fix from Barq’s and Mountain Dew, which meant that I really didn’t drink caffeine all that often after college. I thought black tea all tasted like the bottom of the barrel cheap tea that is so ubiquitous in the United States. Sometime in my late 20s, this myth was abolished.
My gateway tea was a chocolate black tea from Adagio that my husband received for Christmas and shared with me. From there, we both started trying other varieties. Like Scotch, wine, cheese and other delicacies, I’ve come to appreciate the differences in flavor and nuance produced by location, preparation and packaging.
I prefer loose, whole leaf tea, but I have had some good crushed tea. A few of my favorites:
- Darjeeling (India): This is a very delicate tea that is low on the bitterness factor–as long as you brew it for no more than five minutes. The spring crop is generally lighter bodied than the fall harvest.
- Assam (India): A full-bodied tea, it is often a main ingredient in Irish breakfast blends.
- Ceylon (Sri Lanka): A good all-around tea, I find it’s flavor a bit milder than Assam but more robust than Darjeeling. It’s often used in breakfast blends, too.
- Keemun (China): A good Keemun will have a delightful smokiness that I find pairs well with sweet foods, like french toast. Keemun is a traditional ingredient for English breakfast tea.
- Golden Monkey (China): A wonderfully light yet flavorful tea, this is one of my favorites. It does well with cream and sugar or straight up, depending on what you’re looking for. Plus it’s unique looking. The name comes from the leaves’ resemblance to monkey paws.