seeking quali-tea

To summarize in one word the answer to “What am I looking for this year?”, it’s QUALITY.

Quali-TEA?

I. Love. Tea.

I love the taste, the history, the medicinal properties, the wide array of types and colors and flavors, and the personal history it has for me. Someday in the future I’d love to own a little coffee-/tea-house.

I started drinking tea with my best friend when we were probably preteens. It’s herbal, bitter, and smells up an apartment in a dandy way. I remember her favorite at the time was Earl Grey, which I still think smells like Fruit Loops (in the best way).

Tea used to seem like something that was of quality from any company, any kind, anywhere to me, because hey, it’s dried leaves right? Right, but also wrong. Tea can be just as crappy or processed as produce and meat can. I don’t know know the total tea truth, but I know there are better-quality teas from more environmentally- and labor-friendly sources out there.

Now, not that this is the perfect solution to quality and environmentalism issues for tea drinkers, but I’d like to start growing my own herbs for tea. Specifically, I’d like to do a better job with my basil, start growing rosemary again (this time, successfully, I hope), and a few other aromatics as well. I’ve chosen rosemary and basil both because I find the taste comforting (thank you, Italian cooking) and because of their supposed medicinal properties (I only say supposed because I haven’t done all that much research yet). They’re also just beautiful plants to give the home a nice breathy scent.

There are a few things that got me back on a tea kick. One is the fact that there’s a rad tea house down my block, where I recently had a cherry green tea from Japan (completely wonderfully delicious; drank a whole pot by myself). Another is that there are some specific teas I’ve been wanting to try, in particular hojicha (twig tea, for lack of better translation & knowledge). Third and final is a new favorite book of mine, Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. Five stars go to this existential story about death and love, which takes place in none other than a tea shop. The tea shop in the book posts this quote:

The first time you share tea, you are a stranger. The second time you share tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share tea, you become family.

And speaking of tea wisdom, who could forget all of Iroh’s gems from ATLA?

Now, back to growing my own tea herbs – why do I think that’ll produce a higher quality tea? Well, think about those ol’ buzz words:

small-batch

local

transparent supply chain

No, I’m not trying to sell you local craft beer. I’m just saying that with my own herbs I can control where the tea’s coming from, control the taste and strength, remain aware of where ingredients are coming from (to the extent that it’s my garden, although that doesn’t tell me where the plants themselves were sourced, of course), and control waste (I’ll loose-leaf it in my reusable stainless steel strainer, so I won’t be concerning myself with whether the tea bags are compostable, whether there was more ‘juice’ left in the leaves, etc.). Plus I plan to source any of my new plants locally i.e. from local shops, so that’s also a plus for supply chain transparency.

And now the age-old question: what does this have to do with this blog? I mean, hey – plants. Tea is plants (so are most things). I think there’s a lot to be said for slowing down and knowing your tea, from leaf to liquid. So I’d love to continue making posts about the teas I brew and the plants I grow to brew them with, as well as any medicinal properties or interesting wisdom of the teas.

The first step? Figuring out how to do rosemary right this time. I’m looking here and here, for starters. Plus asking local shop owners and friends. Wish me luck, and teas be with you!


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