I used to drink much more coffee than tea, which ended in a very abrupt manner approximately 6 months ago. It has been a very harsh transition – I would rather give up chocolate and sweets of all kind than my coffee but I am dealing with it. It is the worst when DH makes a full pot of coffee on Saturday and Sunday mornings and the smell hits me. The feeling is very much like seeing an intense high school crush that you ache after, who does not even know that you exist. It hurts so.
Part of my coping mechanism includes drinking copious amounts of tea, decaf tea (hark, the heavens are laughing at me…I, who used to take Louisiana Hot Sauce on my Cheerios during my pregnancies). If you had to venture into the dark side of sans-caffeine you too know that not every caffeine free tea is palatable but there are exceptions.
One of my top choices is Rooibos tea. I used to drink this tea during my pregnancies and after but not this much. Rooibos is Afrikaans for ‘Red Bush’ and it is a member of the legume family of plants. It grows exclusively in the Cedarber Mountains and around Clanwilliam in South Africa (I had to look it up as I did not know where that was, oh the shame). To make the tea the leaves of the Rooibos bush are harvested, bruised, finely chopped, moistened and fermented in mounds. The resulting ‘leaves’ look nothing like the tea leaves that one would expect. They are deep cinnamon bark red and look like the small candy pellets that one would sprinkle on cookies – you know the kind I mean – sort of like tubular beads.
The tea brews a deep red and tastes very clean and very mild. For a tea that is not naturally caffeinated (it does not have to go through a process do become decaf), it is simply good. In addition, the more I drink the tea the more I like the taste so, it grows on one. For the lack of a better analogy, the tea tastes mildly like honey with a hint of milk or hazelnuts; it is hard to describe a taste this unique.
The super mild taste of this tea makes it ideal for combinations with other herbs or flavor enhancers. This is why I go with Red Bush Chai, it is basically Rooibos leaves blended with spices. The brand I use is called The Tao of Tea and comes in cute tin cans that have a resistance sealed top, which keeps the tea fresh and later when empty makes for good tea storage (or darning needles if you have little ones as I do). In addition, this brand is fully organic – if you care about that sort of thing – and for all that you get 4 ounces of tea that brews approximately 60 cups. I get mine from my grocery store that has a decent tea selection and good periodic tea sales.
The Red Bush Chai adds cinnamon, spearmint, cloves and cardamom into the Rooibos leaves, which makes for a slightly spicy tea with a sweet aroma. You can see all that in this photo. I would almost call this a perfect tea for desert as it complements non-chocolate sweets very well. I don’t add any milk to my tea as I consider such an act scandalous but I know that my friends do and they think this enhances the taste of their Rooibos Chai very much. I add some sugar and drink it just like that.
One final note about Rooibos, this tea contains Aspalathin, a flavonoid present in medicinal herbs used to treat skin and circulatory disorders. It is also known to contain traces of zinc, calcium, iron and manganese, which all help boost the immune system. In short, it is reputed to be good for you especially if you would like to drink something that is good for your immune system, helps your digestion and helps keep your skin healthy. You can read more about the specifics here.
OK, now more fun facts. If one would like to have proper tea one must have a proper tea pot and the most perfect cup, with the acknowledgement that nothing about this tea, my cup or pot is ‘proper.’
My tea pot is an old Bodum all glass, which allows me to see the change in the color of my tea while brewing and know when it is ready. This probably makes me qualify as an A type personality but I feel every tea must have the perfect cup and therefore, this cup makes me happy. It has a granite-like shell with cherry blossoms etched deeply into it. It also has a thin lip, which is great for drinking tea. Of course, one must not forget the fact that the water has to be boiled to brew the tea, for that I use this 60′s (or is its 70′s), pyrex pot I got from a church fair.
This was last night’s tea. I also baked some ginger cookies to have as a treat, which goes great with my Red Bush Chai. Pieces of my rather bland - decaf – life shared with you – hope you enjoyed reading it.
PS. Are you counting with me? Post #3.