With so many great teas in the world to choose from, how do you decide which kind to drink? You could stick with your favorite go-to, but as a tea lover and purveyor myself, my philosophy is: why choose just one?
You can branch out and drink many different kinds of tea in one day — it's merely a matter of finding the right kind of tea to match the mood, meal, or time of day.
To start the day off, try white tea — it has a light aromatic quality with subtle, nuanced flavors, which may be more apparent in the morning when the palette is still fresh. Unlike drinking green or black tea on an empty stomach, when I drink white tea before breakfast it doesn't tend to cause discomfort.
Here's a secret about white tea: if you need a major boost of caffeine in the morning, choose a higher quality white tea and use really hot water to brew it (about 200°F). That water temperature may not bring out all the intricacies of flavor, but it'll infuse a lot of caffeine, which is another reason white tea can be a perfect brightener for the morning.
Later in the morning, or just before lunch, green tea is good choice. It's said to boost metabolism — a perk, whether for the extra energy for a noontime workout or some added calorie burning at lunch.
Green tea is also a perfect tea for drinking on its own and it's easy to adjust the intensity of the flavor and bitterness, depending on how it's steeped. Lower temperature equals less bitterness, but make sure to increase the steep time to ensure depth of flavor.
With lunch, I recommend black tea for a few reasons.
First, it's the most widely available and commonly found in restaurants, which makes it an easy go-to at lunch. Second, it's less delicate, so it's more resilient in a food service environment when the water temperature can be variable.
Third, I find black tea more enjoyable paired with food because it can help to cut through some of the sweetness or greasiness of certain dishes.
Pu-erh tea is what I drink after lunch. Pu-erh is different from most other teas in that it undergoes a fermentation process before the final drying — this unique processing method makes it a stellar choice to support digestion. It's also traditionally used in China to ward off weight gain following a heavy meal.
I've found that most pu-erh tea has only a moderate amount of caffeine, which helps ward off the afternoon slump, but isn't overly stimulating so as to prevent sleep at bedtime.
In the early evening, oolong is my tea of choice. While oolong does still contain caffeine, it doesn't seem to have the same buzzing, wakefulness effect more commonly associated with green or white tea. When using loose leaf, opt for a smaller portion to reduce caffeine and focus on the subtle flavors of a delicate cup of lightly oxidized oolong.
If you want to cut the caffeine altogether, look for a herbal infusion, such as rooibos or more calming herbs like holy basil and lemon balm to help recover from the stress of the day.
If you're new to tea, and especially if you're not used to consuming caffeine, I don't recommend trying to drink too many cups of tea in a day. Start slowly, choosing one tea per day, experimenting and experiencing how each cup makes you feel and build from there.
Tea is a wonderful beverage that offers a myriad of benefits and endless possibilities for exploration.
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