The number of times my offer of tea has been met with refusal because the person in question insists they are a coffee drinker never ceases to baffle me. I’m a coffee drinker. I’m also a milk drinker, a juice drinker, and a water drinker. I support and encourage people to drink liquids of all varieties, and I try not to judge others based on their beverage of choice. Mango juice? Great! Pear Nectar? Okay! Clamato Juice? I will not judge you! All are wonderful at promoting that state of hydration we are all supposed to be enjoying for optimal health.
But tea is different. The tea plant is manipulated to produce five separate and distinct tea types, none of which taste remotely like each other. Herbal teas are simply a combination of any plant material that tastes good or does something useful. Yerba Mate and Rooibos are completely separate plant species from two separate continents that have absolutely nothing in common except hot water. So you’re not a tea drinker? Just a coffee drinker?
Are you sure?
Are you sure you don’t even want to try the smooth delicious earthy red that is rooibos? Are you positive you have no use for the bright wide awake feeling you get from Yerba Mate? How about the gorgeously resonant flavours of a light Oolong? Have you tried green tea from the different regions of China, Japan, and Korea? Are you absolutely positive that out of the thousands of teas out there that are continually developed, refined, and sold, not a single one of them has flavours that will please you?
Just try one. If you don’t like it, try another. And another. There is no downside to exploring, and there is so much pleasure awaiting you. Just try.
I’ll see you at the teapot.
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The first time I tried chai was in the kitchen of my parent’s house, and served by my younger sister. “You have to taste this—” she insisted, pushing a mug across the countertop to me. She refused to elaborate on its contents. The flavors, she said, would speak for themselves.
The quality of water affects the taste of your tea; this is beyond dispute. The relative quantities of mineral salts, oxygen and trace elements determine the relative "liveliness" or "flatness" of a particular cup. To that simple substance we add the basic flavor of the leaf itself or an herbal substitute.