But tea does far more than provide a break during a stressful day. With good storage and innovative blending, it can improve your mood, delight the eyes, and ease your stress.
Store Your Tea Properly
First, let's talk storage. If you've ever had a cup of tea made from tea exposed to air, plastic, or food smells, you know that good storage is essential for good flavor. You need:
Protection from air.
Protection from moisture.
Protection from light.
Protection from other food sources.
Protection from extreme temperatures.
Protection from other smells.
All of these elements wreak havoc with the quality of tea, damage the leaves, and drastically diminish flavor. Moisture makes it easy for tea to mold, and plastic gives tea a dreadful flavor.
The most ideal container is a porcelain one with an air tight lid. Unfortunately, this isn't always the most visually pleasing option since it doesn't allow you to view the varying colors and textures of the tea inside.
If, like me, you prefer glass containers, make sure you store them in a dark place like a cupboard or drawer and not on a counter top where the tea will easily be exposed to damaging light and cooking smells.
If your tea is stored properly, it will last indefinitely and provide consistently pleasurable drinking.
Revamp Your Tea Collection
Once your storage issue is dealt with, consider your tea collection. Does it reflect your personality and enhance your lifestyle? Does it inspire you with its range of possibilities?
Set time aside each year to do a revamp of your tea collection. Get rid of anything that smells musty or give away anything that hasn't been touched. If possible, replace all tea bags with loose leaf varieties. It always tastes better.
Then head to your favorite tea shop or online source, and choose a few new teas in addition to your beloved standbys.
Depending on your mood or health, consider adding rose hips to your brew for a Russian twist (it adds Vitamin C), fresh ginger slices for an Indian flair (it will also settle an upset stomach), or a bit of licorice root to fight a cold.
Choose Beautiful Teaware
Instead of fumbling with tea balls or strainers, try a French press that is used only for tea. You get to see the tea as it steeps, making it easier to choose the strength you love, and with one press of the plunger, all the leaves are taken to the bottom leaving you with a clear beverage. It's also great for those clever little tea flowers that bloom when hit with hot water.
Once you've settled on your brew of choice, serve it in a mug or cup that makes you feel happy, cozy, and peaceful. While tea is every bit as delicious served in an old chipped mug, it becomes something special when sipped from a vessel that brings you as much pleasure as the drink itself.
All photos courtesy of the author.