Tea for Moods of Winter
Chai – perhaps you’ve tried it, the one packaged in little generic cardboard boxes for the shelves of grocery stores. The labels might promise the flavour of rich Indian spices, but delivers only a faint aroma of a watered-down tradition. This is not chai.
Despite chai’s appropriation by Starbucks, it remains a tea that only your mom can brew perfectly. Though you might try, yours doesn’t compare. There is no strict formula to chai. Each one is a unique coalescence of spices such as cardamom, fennel, and cinnamon. Regardless of the blend, there is definite need for sugar to offset the toasty bitterness. This is chai, a balance of the bitter and sweet making it perfect for almost any day and any time. Traditionally served in the morning, chai’s base of black tea and high amounts of caffeine carries you through the day but occasionally is also served at night. Chai’s ubiquitous nature derives itself from the cultural practice of serving tea to guests, it is a hallmark of Indian hospitality. To me, chai is the flavour of being welcomed home. Maybe that’s why it tastes best when someone makes it for you. It’s the tea to share, always made in servings of two or more. Though chai just translates to tea, it is certainly more than that.
Lavender Earl Grey Latte
“Tea, earl grey, hot.” One of the iconic catchphrases of Star Trek TNG’s beloved captain, Jean Luc Picard. There is no surprise that this tea accompanied his solitary contemplation. This dark and highly-caffeinated blend stimulates the mind. But a lavender infused Earl Grey latte, slides in the flavour of relaxation. Though lavender is commonly known and appreciated for its scent and aroma therapeutic purposes, it has a subtle floral flavour that melds well with the bitterness of Earl Grey.
This is the right blend for late nights of stressful work or particularly overwhelming days. The caffeine keeps you up, but the lavender moderates the anxiety. The tea takes on a personality of a comforting and soothing friend who gives you exactly what you need in those moments when life seems too much to juggle. This is the friend who can sit still with you until you get back to your zen space. Neither Earl Grey nor lavender are inherently sweet. Adding honey completes this beverage. It’s sweet, creamy, floral with a bitter undertone reminding you to pay attention to more than just the bitter undertone of life.
A tea that deceives, portraying a clear innocence but with the consistency of a latte. It's clear, slightly tinged water, is passable for a green tea yet tastes like warm spiced milk. The infusion of rose makes it feel as if you are drinking a petal, adding a smoothness so natural it's way too easy to drink copious amounts at once.
Perhaps owing to its duplicitous nature, oolong is for times when you need to build yourself up. For times of idea generation and the expression of creativity, as in an essay or a presentation. Oolong enhances your perception of what is important to say, what the essence of a piece of literature or art really is, while giving a confidence you did not even realize was hiding within your mind. In complement, the earthy dimensions of rose add an authenticity to your work, stripping it of exaggerations and giving beauty to things that unapologetically just are.
This iconic blend of chamomile and peppermint is loved across the globe as a trusty facilitator of sleep. The combination of rising steam from a hot teacup, the infusion of relaxing notes of chamomile flowers, and the digestion aiding properties of peppermint, offer a familiar nudge towards slumber. SleepyTime is not overpowering, rather just enough to signal your body to let go and have dreams as happy as the bears on the packaging. It goes without saying, then, that the perfect mood for SleepyTime tea is on the night before an important event or test, when your mind is racing and the prospect of sleep only adds to frustrations and nerves.
Matcha is the superior source of caffeine. Not only is it less bitter than coffee, but it comes without the jitters and rising anxiety that a cup of coffee brings. It is aesthetically pleasing, easily whisked to satisfying froth, and brews without a tea bag or container as the ground powder dissolves seamlessly. It pairs well with milk and can be easily chilled for consumption in all seasons, making it a truly versatile choice.
Matcha is for the mornings. It is the last liquid taken before an exam. It is a companion of lectures and tutorials, coming along for the ride in a Contigo mug, always happy to be there, even if you aren’t whilst sitting for 5 hours straight in Con Hall. As a warning, however, once you switch to waking up to the sharp earthy tones of matcha, coffee will forever be ruined and you will not be able to consume it without feeling both sick and nervous.