If you've been drinking coffee almost every day for the last ... okay, for as long as you can remember, you might be questioning the goodness that is tea.
Or you love both just the same.
Or you don't like coffee at all and you don't get the hype, and you're just here because you don't understand (it's drinking bitter, burnt bean water, why is this a big deal?!)
I'd be lying if I said, as a committed coffee drinker, that I am a tea expert and love it so much.
(hence, kind of why I'm here: to share my previously new-found admiration of tea with fellow coffee drinkers).
However, I do enjoy a cup of tea way more than I did even one year ago. Currently replace coffee with chai or Matcha at least twice a week and end most of my days with a dandelion or rose tea blend.
When I say I didn't like tea, I mean I hated it.
Much of my experience with tea was burning my tongue out of lack of understanding the concept of "let it steep and cool down" and the lack of flavor. For reference, when Jason and I were dating, he gave me a cup of tea at the place he was working at where I then spilled it on myself and swore off of tea forever.
What changed my mind?
Shortly after I had my daughter Sequoia, I was looking into how the food and beverages we have every day can either heal or damage our digestion.
We'll either gain a lot of nutrients from the food we eat, or we end up breaking down vital processes in our bodies.
Don't get me wrong, here: I'm a hard core supporter of ice cream, donuts and pasta - just not all the time.
Looking into this kind of stuff requires much self-awareness with regards to made leaves us feeling dizzy, achey, groggy or sick. If any of those apply, your body is telling you to stop.
In this process, I began to realize the sad and unfortunate truth that coffee increased my anxiety levels, due to the caffeine levels it holds. I became easily jittery and crashed, but didn't want to have my morning beverage taken away.
So, I finally (because tea's been around for literally ever) decided to look into tea.
I learned about the myriad of benefits that come from drinking different types (heart health, gut health, skin health, stress reduction, etc.) and figured out how to adjust the taste and brewing methods in a way that tastes best for me.
This way, when I don't reach for the french press, I don't regret it.
If you lean toward the group of people who wear t-shirts proclaiming their love of coffee, or if you're looking to discover more about your current tea collection, below are my top picks, best methods and the varying benefits for each.
Let's spill the tea.
best tea selection for beginners
1) Matcha (caffeinated)
The infamous Matcha slides into my number one because you can use it for much more than tea drinking alone (smoothies and pancakes got an upgrade - I also have a facial cleanser that I love with Matcha as a key ingredient. What even.). I use the Blume Matcha Coconut Blend - and you guys, it's insanely good.
This green tea has less caffeine then black tea, but let's not be fooled: it still provides a ton of energy with each sip (paired with its' unique flavor). I find it's best when had with some frothed almond milk and pure maple syrup (what I typically use in my coffee).
Benefits: Packed full of antioxidants and boosts your focus, gives you energy without the crash you'd get from coffee while supporting your immune system. Promotes heart health and very simple easy to prepare!
Brewing Method: Not your typical brewing method. For this, I get 1 teaspoon of the Matcha powder mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of hot water and top the cup off with some frothy oat milk (add some pure maple syrup if you have a sweet tooth).
2) Classic Chai (caffeinated)
Chai is up there in popularity popular within both the tea and coffee circles, and for good reason. It's a black tea blend (hey-oh caffeination) with spices that remind us of autumn: ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and more. Tazo has a concentrate that taste's delicious with milk (though it upsets my stomach, I have to admit it tastes best with whole milk - A2 brand if available at your local grocery store is great!). I get the Tazo Chai Tea bags and use two for each cup I brew to get the most flavor. If you're looking to replace your coffee with a tea, I'd highly recommend starting out with this one as it tastes very similar to a vanilla latte when done right. Tazo has an incredible variety of tea bags and concentrates available - I suggest taking a look and grab whatever calls out to you and your current health needs!
Benefits: may help boost heart health, reduce blood sugar levels, aid in digestion, contains flavonoids which can prevent illnesses from spreading through your body (similar benefits to those of black tea, with slight variants due to the spices within the chai blend)
Brewing Method: in a medium sauce pan, bring 1 cup of water to boil over medium high heat. Add two chai tea bags and let simmer, turning heat to medium low (there should still be some bubbles forming). Re-arrange tea bags every minute to prevent burning. Add 1 1/2 cup vanilla macadamia milk (or milk of your choice) and 2 tablespoons of honey.
3) Roasted Dandelion (non-caffeinated)
As an adult, it's so weird to see the flower I made crowns out of as a child can be made into a tea. This is my go to herbal tea after a heavy meal as one of it's main benefits is aiding our digestion - and it tastes similar to coffee in some ways so it feels like I'm fancy with having "coffee" in the evening. This tastes really good with a tablespoon of honey (or more, why not?)!
Benefits: contains vitamin A, with can improve immune system, as well as lung, kidney, and even heart health; reduce the risks of developing numerous chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease; stimulates the liver and supports healthy kidney function
Brewing Method: pour boiling hot water into your mug of choice over the tea bag (s). Steep the dandelion tea for 5 to 10 minutes before removing the bag(s). If desired, ad a tablespoon of honey (again, so. so. good).
4) Red Refresh Herbal Tea (non-caffeinated)
Where are my fruity flavor lovers at? This one is hands down my favorite herbal tea - and it packs a punch with benefits (duh). It's a Trader Joe's tea, thus only sold in their stores. It contains hibiscus, rose hips, lemongrass, peppermint, orange peel, lemon verbena, and wild cheery bark (yum). This would taste amazing chilled during the summer months or fresh and hot in the cool afternoons of fall and winter (let's be honest, any time you need a refresh, it's there for you).
Benefits: prevents hypertension, lower blood pressure, reduce blood sugar levels, promotes liver health, relieves pain associated with menstrual cramps, helps with depression, aids digestion, promotes a healthy immune system
- Hot: bring water to a boil. Pour over tea bag, steeping 4-6 minutes. Sweeten with stevia or honey!
- Chilled: pour 2 cups of boiling water over four tea bags n a heat-resistant container. Steep for 4-6 minutes and remove tea bags. If desired, add sweetener while tea is hot. Add 2 cups of cold water, and chill in the refrigerator.
5) Breakfast Tea (caffeinated)
Last but certainly not least is the classic black tea. When I need something similar to a straight black cup of coffee, skip the jitters, this is its' match. I don't sweeten this one, as it already contains some sweet notes.
Benefits: packed with antioxidants, may boost heart health, lower cholesterol, improve gut health, lower blood sugar levels
Brewing Method: place one (or two!) tea bag(s) in your favorite mug. Add boiling water and steep for 3-5 minutes.
If we put in the effort to learn more about the wide variety of tea available to us and work to understand why and how tea can benefit us, along with adjusting the flavors to our liking, I think we can truly enjoy tea more often and reap the benefits, too.