The first full phrase I learned in Finnish was “kuppi teetä, kittos,” which means “cup of tea, thank you.” It was really the only phrase I needed. I’d slide my little tray down the cafe line, pick up a pulla from the case and order my tea. After counting out my euros and lamenting the cost a bit internally (upwards of eight American dollars for a tea and a pastry) I’d sit and take in the quiet, cool Helsinki landscape. I don’t remember much about what I would think or how long I would sit, but it was my favorite moment of the day.
I drink a lot of tea. I once gave it up for lent to prove to myself I could. I made it all forty days without tea, but I did not continue limiting my tea consumption. I saw no reason to. Tea is a center for me to return at any point throughout the day, and I see no harm in that.
What follows are a list of favorite teas with no particular parameters. Some are available only in memory.
Murchies Golden Jubilee Blend: this is my mother’s tea. Before Murchies began shipping at reasonable rates internationally she consistently requested boxes of the Golden Jubilee from Canadian travelers and friends. She’s a woman of good taste and I too have to agree this is one of the finest black teas around, particularly with a smidge of cream.
Harney and Sons Black Current: I love black current tea, partly because it was the black tea my Finnish host family kept most frequently. I grew very fond of a late morning pulla and cup of black current tea. I’ve tried many black current teas and Harney and Sons remains my favorite. The black current is delicate and balanced, there is no fruity sweetness or bitterness unless you over brew.
3. Ippodu Gokujo Hojicha: On a recent trip to New York I spent a whole afternoon listening to classical music and wandering from tea shop to chocolate shop to coffee shop to tea shop and so on. Pure bliss, IMHO. Ippodu has only one location state side and came home with both the Hojicha and a new spring green tea. The spring green tea made little impression on me, but as a fan of toasted, roasted and smoked green teas, the buttery green bite of this particular Hojicha made for excellent noon time tea. I’ll be back for more (and perhaps new selections) on my next trip to New York (here’s hoping that is sooner rather than later).
4. Lipton Green Tea Mandarin: This is not a special tea and most tea connoisseurs would scoff at its presence on a list like this particularly given the health concerns tied to pyramid tea bags, but I turn a blind eye to such snobbery and potential hazards when it comes to this tea because I really, really, really, really, really like it. I’ve yet to find an orange scented green tea that is as good. Suggestions welcome.
5. The Decaf Earl Gray at the Top Pot Doughnuts in Issaquah. Yet to be named, but nice citrus notes, not to floral and with the heft of a caffeinated tea.
6. The dissolvable sweetened peppermint tea my mom had when I was a kid. These were like peppermint sugar cubes that you covered in hot water and stirred. We drank them when we were sick. I would like them now to pimp my instant hot chocolate.