It’s tea season here. I don’t drink a lot of tea in the summer–coffee is my morning drink of choice–but when the weather turns colder, I enjoy tea in the afternoon and evening.
I generally avoid caffeine in the evenings, so my tea choices at that hour are somewhat restricted. I’ve never particularly liked any of the commercial herbal teas. Fortunately, there are some delightful alternatives.
My favourite is probably tea-less chai. I keep a mix of chai spices (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, chilli flakes, and crystallised ginger–all in whole form, not ground) in a jar in the cupboard, so it’s easy to toss a spoonful into the bottom of a cup for a hot spicy drink.
I’m also very fond of mint. The dried mint tea you can buy is grassy, to my taste, but a fresh sprig picked from the herb garden makes a lovely cup of tea. I particularly enjoy mint tea when I have a cold, as it seems to do a good job of soothing a sore throat and clearing sinuses.
Also available fresh from the herb garden is lemon verbena. I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of lemon verbena tea. Too much lemon-scented Pledge when I was a kid–the flavour has a bad association with furniture polish for me. But occasionally, it’s nice for a change of flavour.
My husband enjoys putting a few chunks of crystallised ginger and slices of fresh lemon in a cup for a lemon-ginger tea that far surpasses the commercial tea-bag kind.
I enjoy tea season for its variety and its fresh-from-the-garden flavours.