Sounds like many of you are checking out "tea total-ing." Glad to hear it and thanks for the feedback. My last column about choosing tea for your health was too long to include this. If you missed it, you can find it on my website, www.gotoloa.com. Finding the herbs and blends that you enjoy while bringing balance to the body is truly a fun and rewarding adventure.
There's a cup of tea and then, there's a "great" cup of tea. The difference is mind blowing. It is so easy to make great tea, I hate to see you compromise. Here are the simple steps.
Start with cold, fresh water — Hard water and bottled mineral water will bring tea scum. Previously boiled water has lost its dissolved oxygen which you need to bring out the flavor of the tea.
Listen for the whistle — Bring to a boil with the heat or flame turned just a notch down from highest heat.
Let it rest — Turn off heat and let boiling water rest for about a minute.
Pour 1 cup water over 1 tea bag or 1 tsp. of loose tea.
Brew most teas for 3-4 minutes, green tea for 2 min. Brewing for too long will release the tannins that leave a bitter aftertaste. Caffeine infuses within the first minute. It is an old wives' tail that brewing longer releases more caffeine.
Use your favorite mug — Never use Styrofoam, polystyrene or plastic cups. They're bad for the flavor, the environment, can give off toxins and they keep tea too hot to drink. If you're a Spider-Man fan, get yourself a ceramic Spider-Man mug. Is your mother-in-law a psycho? You can find one that says that, too. Whatever puts a smile on your face. I have mugs from cities I have traveled to. Having tea in the London mug reminds me of a great and foggy trip. If I were making tea for you, I might ask if you'd rather be in Hawaii or Alaska and you'd get your tea accordingly.
Sweeten to taste — This is where it gets fun. Honey comes in all types and flavors from all over the world. I love Acacia honey from Italy. It is light in color and wonderful in tea. Treat yourself to a little private personal collection to be enjoyed as you desire. Experiment with different honey in different tea. You will find a favorite combination and I'd love to hear about it. Stevia is also nice in tea, but use it sparingly; if you over do it, you'll ruin your tea. Less is more. Organic sugar, pure maple syrup, and Agave nectar (from a cactus-like plant from Mexico) are all sweeteners I keep handy and use according to my mood. All can be purchased in the La Cañada/Montrose area. What is not to love about "sweeten according to your mood?"
Milk or Lemon, if you need either of these, just keep it real, no substitutes.
Fake lemon juice is an insult to a great cup of tea.
Be cool — Now that you have brewed a fabulous cup of tea, the last thing you need is to burn your tongue. Let it rest again, give it a minute or two while you enjoy the aroma. If your tea is so hot you need to slurp/sip it, or if the mug is too hot to hold, then it is too hot to drink. Intensely hot beverages, whether coffee, cocoa, or herb tea are harmful to the stomach lining. It takes about five days for your body to completely replace your stomach lining. Let this process happen smoothly without needing to repair damage at the same time. Leave a teaspoon in your tea for a minute to speed up the cooling process. "Too hot for the tongue-too hot for the belly."
This is the best part — Sit, breathe, relax, ponder. Enjoy your moment and your tea. When it's back to dealing with the real issues of the day, you'll be better equipped. You deserve moments like this each day. Plan for them by browsing through the tea section of Whole Foods, buy yourself a mug that is attractive and suits your grip. Keep your tea kettle at the ready. The cold months are just ahead. You'll be glad you are prepared.