What’s a teapot life without the teas I can’t live without. I graduated from the standard grocery store box teas (nothing wrong with those) a few years back and realized the complex, sweet, floral and rich flavours that freshly picked and dried tea leaves of varying types and fermentation levels had. My favorite types of tea are ones in the Oolong and Black groupings but I’ve since expanded my tastes to Pu’erh, Senchas and rich espresso-style Rooibos and added those to my favorites list too.

Tea is more than just a drink to me, it’s an experience. From tasting a tea from a light steep to a long steep and exploring it’s deep rich flavours to adding fruit and other spice to make a refreshing or warming drink or using the Breville Milk Cafe (blog here) to make a creamy tea latte, there’s so much to do with tea. I’ve even been exploring the delicate and refreshing world of cold brew tea lately.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve learned that green teas are unoxidized and black teas are oxidized – black teas fare better hot (they get tannin-y when cold) and delicate white or green teas do well cold where you can taste the delicate flavours as they come out. Here’s a list of the teas I can’t live without and the ways I drink them.

Black Tea: Harney & Sons Blackcurrant

I’ll cycle through different black teas all the time.  I keep finding that this is a nice way to try tea at a new place or from a new vendor when I don’t want surprises.  In general, black tea is often a go-to when I’m at a new place and just want something where I know what I’m getting.  You know, the old Earl Grey, English Breakfast, or Orange Pekoe. Usually though, those aren’t all that fun and exciting.

In search of something delicious, I’ve tried several fruit flavoured teas.  Usually they just don’t taste right and they’re not things I’m excited to have again.  On a day when I was daring, I bought a tin of a Blackcurrant tea from a not-so-small brand Harney & Sons Fine Teas that I hadn’t tried before…and I found that I devoured the whole tin within a month.  It had everything I wanted. It had the consistency I expect of a black tea, but also had a nice pleasant fruit taste to go with it. This is definitely one tea that I will keep going back and I’d recommend if you enjoy black teas, especially as a tea latte.

Green Tea – Japanese Sencha

I used to love bitter green tea – and couldn’t differentiate much of a flavor as they all came from grocery store shelves. That all changed when I went to a specialty tea shop and tasted Japanese Sencha – it was bright green in the cup and tasted like fresh green peas and melon with an umami undertone. It was divine and I was hooked. Sencha is more of a tea experience for me – I’ll make several steepings of it from 20 seconds to get a light taste of the flavours to just under a minute to get the strong fresh green flavours. It’s the type of tea to watch the steam rise from while meditating, listening to soft water sounds and savouring every sip. While I love this tea hot, it is superbly refreshing in cold brew form. I usually steep my leaves 3-4 times as they have a lot of flavor and keep well for a day or so. Sencha isn’t the type of tea you get from name brands and grocery shelves as they’re picked and steamed fresh and don’t have long shelf lives. I’d recommend going to a local Japanese tea shop if there’s one in your area or trying Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha.

Rooibos (a bush not a tea): Redespresso

While rooibos isn’t technically a tea, it’s a bush, I found a super flavourful rooibos to make evening lattes with. I didn’t have the Milk Cafe when I first discovered it and wish that I did. I didn’t normally purchase rooibos as the flavor never excited me but I found Red Espresso and was intrigued. Red Espresso is rooibos made to put into your espresso machine – even without an espresso machine it’s incredible in a french press or aeropress all imparting it’s rich creamy flavour – the espresso method gives you the sweetest shot, followed by the aeropress, and the french press gives it a strong rooibos flavor which is still really delicious. As a bonus, it is a beautiful red latte (or drink). Red Espresso is great both hot or cold – as an espresso shot in a latte or cold milk with ice.

White Tea: Clipper Raspberry White

What is white tea and why do I turn to it?  Think younger tea leaves that are more delicate.  When I brew up some white tea, I’m expecting soft flavours and the word delicate stays in the forefront of my mind.  If I go to a tea shop that has a varietal of white tea, I’m likely to give it a try.

One day I was in a fancy cooking store and came across a box of white tea that had a nice cartoony picture of a dragon on it.  Needless to say, it caught my eye. Then I realized that there was a raspberry flavor. My first inclination was that this probably wouldn’t end up being anything special because often I found fruit flavors either underwhelming or overpowering to the point of making the tea taste no good.  In hopes that it might be okay, I bought a box. It wasn’t too expensive and maybe it would be alright. Well, it was wonderful. It still had the delicate softness that I hope to see in white teas while also having a pleasant raspberry flavor that I could enjoy without it being overpowering.  My true amazement came when I brewed this up as a Raspberry White Tea Latte and found that it still worked! With all that going on (with the white tea, the fruit, the milk), it really had the potential to be disastrous and off-putting (speaking from experience making some other fruit tea lattes).  This however, was perfection. If I was stuck having only one type of tea bag for the rest of my life, this would be it. I’ve gone through boxes of this Clipper Organic White with Raspberry…probably cases by now…and it’s always great. I never get bored of it and its flavors never disappoint. For anyone who has an interest in either white tea, or fruit-flavored tea, or both, this is the tea to get.

I’d still recommend that you try pure, unflavored white teas from a tea shop sometime.  I still do and I’m happy to keep trying them. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across some small batches with nice delicate flavours that you can appreciate.  For something to brew time and again, this raspberry white tea is something I’ll always keep coming back to because it never disappoints.

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