Some of my earliest memories are sitting with my mum, gram and aunt drinking tea; always bag in, never sugar possibly a splash of milk. There wasn’t anything fancy or particularly ceremonial about it, no sliver tea pots or cups and saucers and certainly not a crustless sandwich in sight, but still it always felt exceptional. The four of us together in one of our kitchens chatting and thumbing through recipes and design magazines with steaming hot cups of tea in hand. Overtime, these tea filled afternoons together have become a ritual; our ritual.
These afternoons spent in kitchens with tea and the company of the most important women in my life, is certainly where my love for tea began but living in the UK, as you might imagine, began my love affair with with tea. The vast and variable world of tea was before me in the little narrow lanes, open markets and charming tearooms. Mine for the taking. While living there, I loved stumbling into the old worldly tea shops of London , with their aged shelves on crooked walls holding great black and silver canister full of tea. I was called upon to employ all of my senses when exploring these little jewel box shops and the proprietors were constantly encouraging scrutiny of the various subtleties between the brews. It was here that I learned of the nuances of the dark black teas of my childhood, of how one early grey blend might differ from another and of the depth of the terrain of tea. In the heavy grey urban setting of London I found the same support and comfort in tea that I had on all those afternoons with our little foursome. It really was three-thousand miles from the kitchens of my mum, gram and aunt, that my true love affair with tea began.
As I traveled more and more, I fell deeper in love with the magic of tea. Mostly because of its reoccurring role as the olive branch of hospitality. Which I have had as a tea too, olive leaf tea that is. A few fresh leaves clipped from the slender branches of a twisted and gnarled old olive tree and steeped in hot water, graciously presented to me by my host. It produced an earthy almost citrus flavored brew. Tea has become something of a panacea in my mind and this is deeply rooted in its ability to evoke a sense of support and comfort across cultures and ages and places, always able in the moment to make anywhere feel just that bit more like home. As I have traveled I have collected ideas for different teas brewed from all manner of things – leaves, roots barks, berries. Each brings with it a sense of delight and a memory – in that way, tea has become a way to relive travels, and conversations, and meals and faces; transporting as much as anything else.
Below area few of those teas and tonics I have collected over my years of travels. These are not so much recipes as they are ideas but ones which I had never thought of until introduced by friends and hosts alike.
Fresh Lemon Tea
my morning go to – I start each day with a cup of hot water and the juice from half a lemon. Its warming and hydrating for the day ahead – a perfect start. I don’t like to boil the water as it takes too long to cool down, but the water is still rather hot.
Half a large lemon
very hot water
juice half lemon into the bottom of your desired mug, pour hot water into the mug and stir. Drink immediately.
Fresh Bay Leaf Tea
A true favorite, I was introduced to fresh bay leaf tea while the guest at a beautiful old country home. In the garden of this house, just outside the kitchen window were huge old bay trees growing among gravel paths. My host slipped out the back door and clipped a few which he then promptly plopped into a cup of steaming hot water . I think of this trip nearly every time I steep a cup. It has also created a burning desire to plant a few bay trees in my own garden
This tea is perfect anytime of day, but I especially love it just before bed.
three bay leaves
tear one side of each bay leaf and place in the bottom of your desired mug, pour just boiled water over the leaves and allow to steep 5 minutes
This is a beautiful little afternoon pick-me-up. The cinnamon is naturally sweet and requires nothing more than hot water and time. My friend used to make it when we were in graduate school. It will forever remind me of her and her beautiful photography. Best if made as a pot of tea. And I often make a second pot which will be slightly weaker but no less delicious. I reserve the cinnamon sticks from the tea to add to my morning pot of oats while they cook.
three 4″ cinnamon sticks, boiling water
place cinnamon stick in teapot and pour boiling water over the top. Allow to steep 7-10 minutes.
Fresh Ginger Root & Honey Tea
spicy, sweet and energizing. Its perfect any time of day or if you are feeling a little under the weather –
- one 5″ piece of peeled fresh ginger root, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp honey
place sliced fresh ginger root in a teapot. bring 6 cups of water to a boil and pour over ginger root. allow to steep 10 minutes. swirl through honey just before serving. pour tea into mugs & serve
Turmeric Milk Tea
a wellness tonic of sorts. Im inclined to make this when I feel a cold coming on. The spicy kick of cayenne is a great little jumpstart. The richness of the almond milk and the flavor of the turmeric are exotic and feel luxurious especially when warmed. Though its especially lovely when you are down and out, I regularly make it just because –
- 1 c almond milk (untreated & unsweetened)
- 12 whole cloves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh grated turmeric … or as much as you can stand
- pinch of salt
- over a very low heat, slowly warm the almond milk, cloves & black pepper. about 8 – 10 mins
- just before the milk comes to a simmer remove from heat, strain into a glass or mug filled with the turmeric and pinch of salt.
- swirl through honey and cayenne pepper to finish
- bottoms up!