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Photo by C .Castle

January was Hot Tea Month and before we get too far away from the celebration I want to share some of my favorite teas with you.

I’ve always been a tea drinker. When I was a teen, my mother would brew me a hot cup of black tea, heavily sweetened, with a dollop of milk and boil an egg for my before-school-breakfast. As I grew older I added more tea varieties than the old standby of black tea to my cupboard—more than I care to admit to.

One thing that inspires my tea collection is reading about fictional characters and the tea they drink. Years ago I read a story about a heroine who was in Ireland and was served Irish tea, strong, sweet, and with lots of cream. It made my mouth salivate. Then one day, while shopping in the English import section of a local store, call Jungle Jim’s, I discovered a box of Taylor’s Irish tea. I snapped up the box, rushed home, brewed a cup, and doctored it up just like I remembered the novel heroine did. I fell in love with the cuppa. For many years, Irish tea was my go-to brew.

Then Starbucks and Panera came to town and I fell for their chai teas. Loaded with sugar, they are a rare treat for me, but I discovered varieties I could brew at home and doctor with artificial sweetener and low fat milk. Not quite the same but do-able.

Another tea inspiration is our bi-annual trip to Disney World. I love going into the Epcot Twinings store (pronounced Twin-ings, not twine-ings according to an English friend of a friend). On my last trip there I bought some pumpkin chai—two of my favorite flavors.

In an Italian restaurant in Epcot we had pizza and a Harney and Sons iced tea, from England, that was so sweet naturally that I needed no sweetener, and that’s saying a lot for me, since I love sweet tea. Back home, I hunted in the English import section of Jungle Jim’s and found a canister of the coveted tea.

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Photo by C. Castle

I’ve also come to love hibiscus tea, mostly because it helps keep my blood pressure under check so I don’t have to take as much medicine. The taste is fruity enough that I can get by on a minimum of sweetener, too. Right now my favorite hibiscus tea is The Republic of Tea’s Watermelon Hibiscus.

Currently, my favorite of all is Downton Abbey’s Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding tea. Labeled as a dessert tea, it has the taste of chai, with a hint of caramel. Similar to chai, but different. It’s as good hot and is it cold. I’m especially fond of it with a splash of spiced latte creamer. I also like Downton Abbey’s Bates Blackberry tea, which has a wonderful scent and a natural sweetness that doesn’t need any sugar.

I skip the cookies with my tea, but if I ate them I’d choose a buttery shortbread. I didn’t have any shortbread on hand for the headline picture, so I put my second favorite, oatmeal raisin, on the plate. Yum.

Now, my taste buds are raging, so I’m off to brew a cuppa.

How about you? Do you have a favorite tea?

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