I love it when I find author friends who love tea too! Rebekkah and I both belong to RWA’s special interest chapter Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, are both geeks and share a love of Firefly, and have been able to meet in person at several RWA regional conferences. I didn’t know she liked tea too! She’s able to drink full-strength, real tea and so she was gracious enough to share some tips she’s learned.
When you’re choosing a diet, you want to avoid snacking and improve your health. Drinking tea is a great way to do both, with its rich antioxidants and ability to fill you up without calories. But it can be hard to drink enough if you’re not thinking about it, and switching to tea can be hard if you’re not used to it.
I’m not a doctor or a medical professional of any kind, but I am an expert in drinking lots of tea. Working more tea into your routine can be done, and even be done conveniently. And it’s quite enjoyable!
Here’s four secrets to drinking more tea.
1) Learn to love tea.
Not everyone starts off loving tea. And if you don’t love it, you won’t be able to drink a lot of it, because you just won’t want to. In fact, I myself didn’t enjoy tea at all until high school. My problem? I was starting in the wrong place.
I had the same problem many people do: After sports drinks and sodas, sugar-added juices, and just-add-water powders, the natural flavors of tea tasted weak and diluted.
Herbal teas (also called tisanes) are an excellent place to start, because the flavor is strong and vibrant. Whether you go for bagged teas, loose leaf teas, or make your own, you’ll find rich taste your tongue won’t have to work to enjoy. (Check out some of Angela’s tea recipes for how to make your own!)
Mint tea is a pretty universal favorite, so if you like mint, start there. (Looking for an easy tea with few additives, from one of the brands mentioned in the “Do you know what’s really in your tea” article? Perhaps try Numi’s Moroccan Mint or Rishi’s Peppermint) You may have to add milk or sugar the first time or two, but mint has so much flavor on its own that you’ll quickly realize it’s a treat just by itself.
Another great option is to start with fruit herbal teas. Fruit teas tend to have strong flavors, and while you’re becoming accustomed to the habit of drinking flavored hot water, they’ll train your palate to enjoy tea. (Perhaps try Numi’s Chamomile Lemon, or Rishi’s Cinnamon Plum.)
Once you find a tea you like, and drink it for a couple of weeks, you’ll find you enjoy a wider variety of teas. Experiment with chamomile, ginger, lemon, spices… You may even want to try white, green, or black teas. Start with flavor profiles close to what you already like (For example, if you like Cinnamon Plum, then something with a similar spice should be your next step, such as Numi’s white tea Orange Spice or a plum flavor, such as Rishi’s Plum Oolong), and then diversify.
As you try different types of tea, you’ll start drinking teas that can become bitter. To avoid this, you’ll want to know how to make a great cup of tea.
2) Learn to brew those teas well, anywhere you go.
Herbal teas are hard to mess up. At home, boil that water and pour it over the leaves. Let it steep as long as you want. At work, get water from the coffee machine–trust me, it works!
But if you’re trying a foray into white, green, or black tea, and if you’re sensitive to bitter tastes, you need to be a little more careful. First off, don’t use boiling water. For white and green tea, use water about 170-180 degrees F. In a kettle, this is just when you start hearing the first fizzle of bubbles, without it coming to a full boil. Steep white tea no more than 3 minutes, and green tea no more than two; some teas will need cooler water or shorter steeping times.
For coffee-machine brewing, that means giving the water about two or three minutes in your mug to cool down before adding tea.
For black tea, you can get it a little hotter, or around 190-200 degrees F. Steep it for around 2 minutes. This is about the same temperature as most coffee machines, so you can make a nice mug right at work.
When you’re finished steeping, remove the tea.
Make sure you check your serving size–the tea recommendation is often for 8 ounces of water. My supermug is about 16 ounces, so I use twice as much tea. Don’t steep it longer; just use more.
3) Keep tea at hand–brew big!
Why do I offer coffee-machine tips? Because if you want to drink lots of tea, you have to drink it everywhere. Instead of stopping for Starbucks in the morning, fill a coffee mug with tea for your commute. Keep tea at your desk. And when you’re drinking at home for a long writing session, brew big.
Brew a whole pot of tea, in fact. Especially if you like to snack. Why? Because if you instinctively reach for something to nibble on while you work, you’ll undo all your healthy eating (especially since snack foods tend to be bad for us). So make your indulgence tea, and you’ll snack less. Mindless snacking may be bad–but mindless tea-drinking is just fine!
You can keep your tea warm with tea lights and warming stands. For example, World Market has a cast iron tea stand, much like the one I use, for $12.99.
Most places that sell tea will also have something similar. So brew a full pot and put it beside your computer. Or, if your fur friends have a tendency to knock things over like mine do, put it on a side table near you while you work. Keep it close and keep it convenient, and limit your excuses to go into the kitchen by keeping the whole pot at hand.
4) Get the most out of your tea: Be cheap and re-steep!
The joy of loose-leaf teas, whether you purchase them from a tea store such as Numi or Rishi or make your own, is that you can usually use the leaves twice. And who doesn’t love a good deal?
Some teas don’t re-steep well. You’ll have to figure out from experience which do and which don’t (I find greens usually do, but herbal teas don’t; and black teas are about 50-50). But if your tea does re-steep well, after the first pot, put your leaves aside (not in the sink where you could accidentally pour things over them, but perhaps on a dish or such).
Now, if you don’t re-steep that tea, you’re just wasting money.
That’s right, guilt-tripping yourself can lead you to brewing a second pot. This means you drink more tea. Mwahahaha.
Do know that you may need to use slightly hotter water the second steeping to continue getting the best flavor.
It seems like a no-brainer, but when something is fun, you want to do it more. So have fun with tea! Invite friends over to try each other’s favorite blends. Try a new recipe. Blend two types of tea together and find out if you love or hate them in combination.
Drinking lots of tea is mostly a mix of learning to love it and making it convenient. Find your favorite and indulge–and feel good doing it, because this is one habit that’s good for you.
About Rebekkah Niles
In addition to being a tea lover, Rebekkah Niles is the author of Into the Tides, a contemporary fantasy with just a touch of geek. You can find her on her blog, where she may be talking about writing, magic, or tea.
About Into the Tides
Tone-deaf Kelly has long considered her inborn music magic to be useless. But after a disaster drowns the American South in magic, including her whole family except her twin brother, she discovers her “useless” magic lets her hear the voices of those lost. Now, with the help of her twin and her handsome, green-eyed neighbor Derik, she must brave the heart of magic itself to save the lost–only the attempt may just cost her everyone she has left.
Thank you, Rebekkah, I love all these tips! You’ve managed to not only give a primer for newcomers, but helped them become experts at the same time!
What about you? Are you wanting to try tea, but haven’t found one you like yet? Experiment! Tea is such a wonderful addition to your daily life!