I've written a fair amount about habits in the first year of this blog. So it seems appropriate to dedicate a post to one of my favorite and most joyful: tea. I've never had any interest in coffee, but I've been drinking tea since high school. There is something inherently calming and comforting about taking the time to brew and drink a cup of tea that has always just made sense to me.
Admittedly, my tastes weren't the most refined at the beginning. In college and beyond, I would buy those giant boxes of store-brand tea bags and mix in a bunch of sugar or artificial sweetener. A few years ago, my wife and I took on a short-term nutrition challenge that involved giving up sugar for a month. I learned pretty quickly that the cheap tea I had been drinking doesn't taste like much without any sweetener! I started buying better tea bags first, then quickly discovered the world of loose leaf tea. It had honestly never really occurred to me that there were people into tea the way others are into coffee. Boy, was I wrong! Once I learned a little, I was down the rabbit hole.
My favorite thing about tea is that it's a shared interest with my wife. We have very different tastes (she drinks iced tea almost exclusively while I drink 90% of mine hot), but we enjoy talking about tea and shopping for different varieties together. We got into it around the same time, and our tea collection nearly overwhelmed our kitchen counter for a little while as we tried various things, but we've reigned it in since then.
One of the other things I like most about tea as a hobby is its sheer simplicity. Besides the tea itself, all you really need is water, a heat source, and a cup. Of course, there's plenty of high-end teaware in the world, but after a lifetime of purchasing music gear and various technology, it's a refreshing change. You can get set up with everything you need for about fifty bucks and have decent stuff. Over the past few years, we've assembled a few tried and true tools:
- We use a simple kettle to heat water on the stove. Sometimes I think about a fancy electric kettle for finer temperature control, but I've learned how to get various temps pretty accurately on the stove, and I like the simplicity. And I'm not above using the microwave when I'm in a hurry, though I try not to.
- We've got a bunch of different infusers lying around at this point, but I finally gave in to popular opinion and bought a Finium brewing basket last year. It works great, and I don't use anything else unless it's waiting to be washed or my cup is too large for it.
- We also have an iced tea pitcher that does a great job with larger quantities. It is in constant use in our kitchen.
- Like everyone, we have more cups and mugs around than we know what to do with. But we've become partial to a few handmade pottery pieces, especially if we're having tea together. I also enjoy steeping in glass cups for the visual effect sometimes. And, of course, we have travel mugs and tumblers around, as well.
My tastes are still relatively simple. I drink a lot of Earl Grey these days, along with unflavored black and oolong varieties. Teas with a hint of vanilla, chocolate, or almond can usually find a place on my shelf as an occasional treat. We get most of our tea from DavidsTea and Adagio but also enjoy finding local shops and varieties when we travel. And, while we both primarily drink loose leaf these days, I still buy tea bags from the store for convenience, travel, or to have some decaf around. So there's no particular snobbery here. If a restaurant only has Lipton, I'm still happy to drink it.
For me, tea is close to a perfect hobby. It's simple, comforting, and delicious while still being geeky enough to appease that side of me. If you're a fellow tea drinker, I'd love to know what your favorites are! And if you're not, consider giving it a try. It's easy to get started, and there really is something for everyone.
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