There is something about sitting down to write or crack open a good book with the perfect cup of tea at my elbow that is impossible to beat. Put a little Nina Simone on the radio and you’re not going to be able to budge me for hours.
But finding that perfect cup of tea is an art form, and it’s one I’ve taken to new levels over recent years. Fortunately, my husband indulges me- and even encourages- me in this pursuit, setting aside a cabinet for my ever-growing collection of teas and cups.
Knowing the right tea to reach for takes a little divination and is an amalgamation of time of day, mood, and whimsy. And I take a lot of pride in being able to pick the right teas for my friends- at least the ones who like tea. From soothing sore throats, troubled sleep, angsty writing sessions, or just quenching thirst on a hot afternoon, these teas are some of my favorites.
I hope they become some of your favorite teas too!
(Links with * are affiliate links on which I earn a miniscule commission; you don’t pay any extra if you order through them. Other links go directly to support local shops that have been hit hard by COVID-19.)
*Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea by The Republic of Tea
I’ve put this tea first because I’ve been hoarding a can of it like a dragon hoards gold for two years now and it’s recently become available again. Originally a short-term special for lovers of Downton Abbey, the caramel and vanilla notes of this exquisite black tea are irresistible, especially when you add a touch of cream and sugar.
If you love earl grey, this tea brings a delicate hint of lavender and vanilla that is quite lovely to the classic English tea. It is quite a caffeinated tea, so it’s best enjoyed in the morning or early afternoon. This is one of my go-to teas when I sit down to read.
Tchai of the Tiger by Kusmi Tea
I originally became hooked on Kusmi Teas when the lovely husband brought me back a tin of their holiday special, Lovely Glogg. Yes, I am still hoarding the last smidge for a special occasion. This amazing chai is a spicy blend that will not only knock your socks off, 1 euro from every purchase goes to conserve wild tigers in India. A win, win!
*Irish Breakfast Tea by Twinings
Would any list of great teas be complete without this classic tea? When I want a good cup of black tea (which is practically all of the time) this is my pantry staple. Smooth, sweet, with a nice balance of tannins, this is black tea won my heart over from the classic earl grey a long time ago. Please don’t @ me- we all have our own tastes!
Golden Monkey by Spice & Tea Exchange
This tea is actually a blend of rare black and gold tea leaves that are hand-processed by plucking one bud and one leaf every spring. This tea is incredibly smooth with a nice balance of savory to sweet. Be sure to look for the option to support a store near you during check-out!
Black Pu-erh by Spice & Tea Exchange
This bold, earthy tea is not for the faint of heart. Highly caffeinated with a distinct aroma and flavor, I enjoy this strong, unique cup made from aged, oxidized leaves from the Yunnan Province in China. If you like boldly flavored black teas, this is a must-try. Be sure to look for the option to support a store near you during check-out!
*Sencha Loose Green Tea by Yamamotoyama
We discovered this delicate green tea at a local Chinese grocer when we needed to infuse a recipe with a distinct matcha taste. The trick with this tea is to bring your water to a boil, take the pot off the hob, let the water stop boiling and cool for a minute, then pour it gently over your tea into the cup. It does not need to brew for longer than thirty seconds or the flavor will be lost and it will become bitter. If you take your time making this tea correctly, you will be rewarded with an exquisite cup of matcha-esque green tea that you will want to savor! I like adding just a drop of honey to my cup, but it is not necessary since this tea has a natural sweetness.
Sometimes I make this tea just to smell it. The beautiful blend of lemongrass and spearmint in this green tea work perfectly to bring tranquility to any day and when I find myself stumped for any other option, this is my go-to tea, rain or shine, hot or cold. It is all-around a perfect tea.
Ruby Oolong by Spice & Tea Exchange
Dark and rich, this tea is satisfyingly complex and a great match for a long read. It has notes of cherry and hazelnut in it which make me just want to sit back and sigh. Be sure to look for the option to support a store near you during check-out!
Iron Goddess of Mercy by Spice & Tea Exchange
This fun tea can be re-steeped three time revealing a natural sweet, springtime flavor. Be sure to just pour your hot (not boiling!) water over your tea for the best flavor. Be sure to look for the option to support a store near you during check-out!
Cult of Demeter by August Uncommon Teas
This is one of the more unique teas I’ve had. Completely herbal, when allowed to steep for about five minutes, it drinks like a rich cup of hot chocolate without the kick of caffeine. (This is a guess- it is made is natural cocoa husks but does not contain cocoa seed.) Adding a splash of non-dairy cream makes this a vegan-friendly way to enjoy hot chocolate. Since I am lactose sensitive, this has become one of my favorite ways to enjoy a treat that had become off-limits. And it’s low-fat!
Wild Sweet Orange is one of my go-tos for an all-around, tasty cup of tea. It’s a juicy thirst quencher hot or cold and it has a big added benefit: it can kick a sweet craving right to the curb. I like adding a pack of Truvia to the cup for a boost of sweetness without the added calories.
The secret ingredient in this tea that takes it a cut above other comfort teas is the addition of cherry bark and slippery elm. Both of these ingredients are known for their pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory properties. The cinnamon-licorice taste is comforting on a cold day or when I’m congested and is an absolute godsend when I have to sing with an irritated throat due to allergies or a cold. If you or a loved one are under the weather, this is the tea to reach for.
This tea holds a special place in my heart every since Mrs. Rose at my undergrad coffee house placed it in my hands when I told her I needed something to cheer me up. While I was already hooked on London Fogs at the time, Passion tea opened me up to the possibility that tea could be more than black or green. To this day, a cup of Passion tea, with is its rich mix of hibiscus, orange, and rose hips, is still nirvana in a cup to me.
Honeybush Herbal by Spice and Tea Exchange
With its mild, roasted flavor, honeybush is the gussied-up cousin of Rooibos tea with a slightly sweeter taste. This is the tea I reach for when I want something like a sweet black tea in the evening but don’t want to be jittery all night. Be sure to look for the option to support a store near you during check-out!
Bonita Peach Rooibos by Spice and Tea Exchange
I’m reaching for this tea anytime I want a big burst of fruity flavor without a cloying aftertaste. It’s a great, clean-tasting tea that is amazing hot or iced (it’s amazing iced!) and is always refreshing. Be sure to look for the option to support a store near you during check-out!
Warm Feelings Saffron Latte by the fullest
I discovered this bee-yoo-ti-ful saffron-turmeric latte at a local shop in Jackson when turmeric lattes were all the rage. That shop no longer carries it (although they do carry some other fun drinks you should check out) but I did discover that the fullest now carries the perfect little sachets of this sunshine in a cup on their website. Whenever I’m feeling down or a little bit achy from gardening, this is what I reach for.