My Tea Journey

August 5, 2011

Growing up, coffee was the king of hot drinks in my house. Tea was only brewed in the summer for iced tea, and that was not even a staple. My introduction to tea has come later in life, but regardless of when, tea has become an important drink to me.

My first encounter with tea was a High Tea at what is now called the InterContinental Hotel in Kansas City. I was one of a group of tween girls. We got all dressed up, put on our best manners, and had High Tea in the opulent lobby.  What I remember of the experience was that I liked the concept, but not the tea so much. Then again, I did go with fruity, cinnamony options.

My second memorable foray into tea was a few years later and under completely different circumstances. I was on vacation in Colorado with my family. It was summertime, and we were staying in a condo in the mountains. My brother and I went on a long hike, and like most teenagers, completely unprepared. It was something like, “Hey, let’s go climb that mountain across the street.” “OK.” So off we went. We did reach the top, but the real trick was getting home. I crossed a scree field, forged a river and almost got struck by lightning. I was bushed when I finally made my way back to the condo. I needed to be warm and food held no interest for me. So, I went for some herbal tea, thinking it would be warm, comforting and emotionally healing. No such luck.

I really tried to like tea, but I kept going for the highly flavored stuff and just not liking it. It wasn’t until a co-worker at Eastern Mountain Sports introduced me to Republic of Tea that I started to really enjoy tea. Much to my surprise, I am a black tea gal. That would explain why my previous encounters with tea were not favorable.

My tea appreciation has expanded over the years as good quality tea has become more mainstream in The United States. I still enjoy black teas, but have expanded to greens, whites, oolongs and herbals. Yes, I do like some herbal teas, especially Roiboos based ones.

I am typically a coffee drinker by day and a tea drinker by night. When I am sick, I switch to medicinal teas all day long.  We have a Cold Buster tea in the winter that tastes great and has immediate positive benefits. Mint tea is a wonderful digestif. I do like some classic black flavored teas such as Earl Grey and Vanilla. When it comes to iced tea, I like it straight up with ice. No sugar or milk. We brew iced tea daily, and some of the flavored teas have really surprised me. The Chocolate Mint Roiboos is amazing iced. Who know? Of course the Hibiscus Punch is delicious iced, and I do add a touch of sugar to counter the tartness of the rose hips.

I am still a student of tea. Just like coffee, the history and cultural significance of tea is fascinating. I have much to learn, and am happy to continue experimenting with teas.

You can experiment with tea this month, too. August is tea month in the cafe and we’re featuring different brewed and iced options plus discounts on different teas each week and a new Foursquare deal for tea.

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