How Do You Like Your Tea?
December 30, 2011 8:05 AM   Subscribe

How do I get the most out of my teabag giftset?!

I received a gift set of different flavored green teas for Christmas. I've never been much into hot tea. I'm a big coffee drinker and I like my coffee with lots of flavored cream. I don't want to waste these teas but I am clueless as to how to drink them. Like what should I put in it...sugar, honey, milk? Does anyone put milk in their tea? Even though the teas are different Raspberry and other fruit flavors, it doesn't seem like they would be sweet enough or tasty enough to satisfy me. What are your favorite ways to drink hot tea? I also have some white, black, and chamomile tea from a previous gift that I never used! So tell me how you drink those too! I like the sweetness and creaminess of my coffee (it's like comfort food to me) and I'd like to get a similar feeling from my tea if possible.
posted by daydreamer to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You don't usually put cream in green tea or chamomile, but putting it in black is great. You'll probably want to try your teas sweetened, and if that doesn't do it for you, make iced tea. Iced, fruity green tea is great.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:13 AM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

People don't usually put milk in green and herbal teas, no.

That said, forget what people usually do. For a sweet/milky coffee drinker, some hot water that tastes like hot water with slight overtones of plant matter probably isn't going to be too satisfying. Sugar and milk to your heart's content.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:25 AM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can also make the fruity teas into iced tea. I usually just do the sun-brew method (tea bags in glass container, add water, sit in sun.)

And if you want sweeter--add honey. I like milk in black tea.

Or re-gift if you aren't into tea.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:31 AM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Black teas get milk & sugar.

Green teas tend to be served without.

You might consider trying them hot, but also try icing them down after brewing. Some flavors work better cold than hot. You could add a little sugar syrup to the iced teas as well.

We used to make a variety of 'sun teas' by placing the fruity tea bags in a large jar outside for a couple hours to 'brew' and then cool them off to drink in the fridge. It being winter might damper the plan a bit, but you might try the iced tea way if the hot tea isn't as appealing.
posted by Argyle at 8:32 AM on December 30, 2011

Green tea is good plain, but also very interesting with honey and lemon juice.
posted by resiny at 8:51 AM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

*pulls up chair and sits down*

People generally don't put milk in green tea or in herb tea. If you like sweet-and-creaminess, the black teas are your best bet. But don't discount the green and chammomile just yet, because:

1. Chammomile is a mild relaxant, so you can save it to use for medicinal purposes (i.e., if you're feeling a bit achy or a bit nervous).

2. Green tea goes good with Chinese and Japanese food.

3. Both green tea and chammomile tea can be used in fancy homemade bath treatments (there are scores if you google them -- salt scrubs, hair rinses, etc.). If you don't want to drink them, keep 'em for that.

As for the black teas...I tend to like coffee REALLY sweet, but find I only need a third as much sugar in tea. So experiment -- brew one cup of a given kind of tea, and put just a LITTLE milk and sugar in. See how you like it -- if you need more creamy, then add more milk; if you need it sweeter, then you know you like more sugar.

You say you have some fruit flavored teas, but there are some other teas that you may have that also may be "flavored" and you may not know it; all of these can be drunk with milk and sugar, still, though. So if you have either of the following:

* Earl Gray has a subtle lemony-minty undertone because it has bergamot mint in the mix. Fun fact: this is also what Captain Picard had all the time.

* Lapsang Souchong will smell and taste like it's smoked (although the smoky smell is a lot stronger than the smoky taste). I think this is cool, but it is not something for everyone, so if you don't dig it, don't stress.

Finally, black tea can be turned into chai REALLY easily. You may want to just do that if you tend towards sweet-and-creamy anyway. Here's what you'll need to do:

* Make up a batch of "chai spice mix." There are a ton of recipes for the spice part online -- the one I use calls for cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, coriander seeds, a few star anise pods and a little ground ginger, and even a couple peppercorns. Get the spices whole (except for the ginger), crush 'em all up pretty good, and then keep that in a big jar.

* Then when you want a cup of chai, brew up a cup of black tea (you know the drill -- tea bag in water for a few minutes; pick one of the NOT-fruit flavor ones). But while you're doing that, put a spoonful of the spice mix and a spoonful of sugar into a mug, pour in a cup of milk on top of that, then heat it up in the microwave for a minute or so. When the tea's finished brewing, fish out the bag -- and then strain the spices out of the hot milk, and mix the hot milk with the tea. Presto -- you have chai.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

One final note -- if you really start digging tea and want to branch out, I'd pick peppermint as an herb tea. Just plain peppermint -- check the label, you want peppermint leaves and nothing but. Peppermint is fantastic for settling your stomach; it helps with queasiness, it helps with gas, it's good for most mild digestive issues.

Also -- it is FANTASTIC as an iced tea in summer, because the peppermint is LOADED with menthol. It also brews really easy -- just get a jug, dump a few peppermint teabags in, fill the jug with water, and stick it in the fridge for a couple hours and you're done. I have a jug going in the fridge for most of the summer and have it iced -- it's tremendously refreshing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:57 AM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

it doesn't seem like they would be sweet enough or tasty enough to satisfy me.

I've had plain green teas and jasmine green teas that are very satisfying on their own, but often with flavored teas I find myself adding honey because the flavor on its own doesn't cut it. Honey is nice in many teas. You can add milk too if you want to. But first try the tea on its own and see what you think of each of them individually.

Additionally, although I do love both tea and coffee, I think of coffee as more of a morning get-going drink and tea as a mid-afternoon/evening drink. Tea is also nicer to have after a meal and makes me feel more settled than coffee does. As for chamomile tea, drink that if you're sick, trying to relax, or have an upset stomach. Peppermint tea is good for those purposes too.
posted by wondermouse at 10:41 AM on December 30, 2011

I'd look up recipes for milk tea, which generally applies to black tea to make that more to your liking. For green tea, if honey and lemonade don't do it for you, then I'd start looking for green tea marinade(s).
posted by ejaned8 at 11:18 AM on December 30, 2011

Green teas, as noted, are usually served unadulterated. I also think you should have a clear palette as green teas are subtle. Don't down a cup of milky coffee beforehand. The flavors will vanish.
posted by chairface at 12:19 PM on December 30, 2011

Argh. "Palate", not "Palette". I actually googled the difference and got distracted reading and just posted without fixing it.
posted by chairface at 12:30 PM on December 30, 2011

Oh! Oh, something about one of the green teas -- see if one of the green tea varieties you have is a variety called "Genmai" or "genmaicha".

"Genmaicha" means "brown rice tea" -- they roast brown rice and add it to the tea leaves, so it's basically green tea with brown rice Rice Krispies in it. Sometimes it's called "popcorn tea" because it smells a lot like popcorn -- also becuase sometimes the rice kernels pop like corn as well. It doesn't taste too much like popcorn, but it's got a sort of popcorn...undernote to it that I like -- although I admit that what caught my attention about it was just the sheer novelty of "wow, I never thought green tea could taste like THIS".

It's not sweet, though, nor should it have milk or sugar added to it. But if you have it, give it a try to see what you think. It's funky (in a good way).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:51 PM on December 30, 2011

People may balk, but I like cream in my black tea. You can make it as creamy and sugary as you like.

As for the green teas, I'm with those who say not so much with the milk, but definitely try them iced. Lots of honey or sugar.

As for herbals, I used to LOVE peppermint tea with milk and honey. Herbal teas were super exotic to me as a teenager and I was mortified when I learned much later that nobody puts milk in them. *shrugs* It tasted really good to me. Just experiment. You really have nothing to lose, right?
posted by looli at 3:32 PM on December 30, 2011

I almost always have black tea with milk, and my husband adds a sinful amount of sugar, and we both like chai (which I do on the stovetop). I generally sweeten herbal teas, and occasionally put a little milk in with chamomile (my small daughter likes this too). I don't usually enjoy green teas. You do need to brew them with cooler water, and for less time, and you should do as you please with regards to sweetening, but if you think of them as Another Type of Hot Drink and not as A Poor Substitute For My Delicious Coffee, you might get along better with them. There's heaps of websites that will give you good directions to get the most out of what you have, you might start looking at wherever the teas themselves came from.
posted by thylacinthine at 6:32 PM on December 30, 2011

Ok, so trying the black tea right now with milk and sugar. It's nice, I like it! I'm going to save the fruity green teas for iced tea and do the sun brewing thing in the summer. And I'm anxious to try the peppermint and chai teas now after your suggestions. Thanks everyone!
posted by daydreamer at 8:19 PM on December 30, 2011

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