Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tea and Me

I'm into honesty. I'm so much into honesty that I've been called things like "asshole" or "a mean nice-person." And in the spirit of honesty, I admit that I have an obsessive personality. And I'm not obsessive in a creepy sort of way. It's more of a why-is-Lady-more-interested-in-the-color-of-that-nail-polish-than-this-conversation, or can-Lady-please-stop-talking-about-tea-for-one-goddamn-minute. Some people find it frustrating, others endearing. I try to not let the cute ones know until after they've fallen for me. And the truth is... I really do obsess over intoxicating colors and tea. But I'm not here to talk about color today; I'm here to talk about tea.

The Journey

Lots of queer women love tea. It's not just me. Honest! And for all you ladies who love tea, or even just like tea, I'm about to introduce you to a world of deliciousness neither of us can afford... but that I buy anyway. It's called Samovar. Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco turned me from a tea liker to a tea enthusiast. In fact, it was a little fateful. I've only happened upon San Francisco once, and in that time, the older sister of one of my besties was telling me about this cool, overpriced restaurant sitting above Yerba Buena Gardens (gorgeous) that she enjoyed. A couple months later, I was rumaging through my parents' pantry and found a bag of farm fresh Iron Goddess of Mercy that my brother had brought back from China. It tasted like spring morning. Right then and there, I decided to kick the Coca-Cola habit and drink tea (and failed... Hey, it happens. I drink both). In my search to find a tea that compared, I was lucky. I decided to go with this company I found online which turned out to be the restaurant my friend's sister was telling me about. It didn't take me long to make the connection. And I've yet to find a more superior tea in the United States (nor has any tea topped the chinese tea from my parents' pantry. Did I mention it had been sitting there two years, unsealed and everything? It was probably stale... and still amazing).

It's hard with tea because quality is determined by leaf size, not by how delicious the tea will be when brewed. You can have a canister of beautiful, consistent whole-leaf tea, but if it wasn't stored properly, it can be insipid and stale (ahem, Teavana). So, finding a tea company you can trust can be a pricey endeavor. But for the health benefits you're getting, it's worth the investment.

Health Benefits

There are a ton of resources online about the ridiculous health benefits to drinking tea. So, I'm not going to go into detail about how the stuff damn near cures cancer. But it's important to know that the tea that offers abundant health benefits doesn't come bagged for your steeping convenience. I know. Lame-sauce. The higher the quality of the tea (meaning the size of the leaf), the more health benefits you'll get. And if you've noticed, the tea that come in baggies don't look like leaves at all, and in the world of tea, it's called dust. During the processing of tea, the leaves are separated according to size and graded as such. The biggest, most whole leaves are premium, and this goes all the way down to the lowest quality, called dust. The dust is what goes into your grocery store bagged teas. So if you're drinking tea for more than just the taste, this is something you might want to consider.

Another thing to consider when drinking tea is caffeine-free tea. Let's get something straight, all tea is naturally caffeinated. The only tea that is naturally decaf is herbal... and herbal teas technically aren't tea; they're twigs and berries (and also extremely good for you). So when a tea (i.e., black, oolong, green, white) says it's decaf, it has been exposed to chemicals to remove the caffeine. Black teas tend to have your highest caffeine levels, oolong and green teas are spread across the middle, and white teas have very low caffeine levels.

Happy drinking.

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