I’ve always been a bit of a tea addict. Growing up, we used to always buy Bigelow, and I would make a quart at a time, mixing two flavors. My combinations of choice were Constant Comment (for its nice citrus flavor) with either English Teatime or Darjeeling Blend, or the latter two with each other. I’d brew it up in a quart-sized Pyrex, add a lot of sugar (a lot), and drink the whole thing in an afternoon. My mom preferred sun tea – and sun tea’s good – but I liked my method.
I haven’t done that in quite awhile, but I do still love tea. More often now, I drink maté, which isn’t technically tea since it doesn’t come from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). But then, pure mint tea isn’t ‘tea’ either, by that standard. Maté is a South American herb used to make a strong, green-tasting tea. It can be bitter, and strong is an understatement even with smoother varieties, so it’s an acquired taste. Traditionally, you drink it from a gourd, through a bombilla (a straw, usually metal, with a filter so you don’t swallow the leaves). I prefer varieties that are somewhat in the middle between extra-smooth and extra-strong, tending toward the smoother end. It comes with or without stems, and some is available with a lower dust content.
But there is one tea I really love that I’ve gone without for a long time. Oolong is quite possibly my favorite among true ‘teas’, but it feels like cheating to get it in teabags. I first tried it loose leaf, and that’s how it has to be; but grocery stores seem pretty hit-or-miss on loose tea, usually carrying not more than a couple of standards like English or Irish breakfast tea, Earl Grey, or the like. I don’t frequent Asian shops, don’t even know where they are in my area, but those seem like the best candidates for finding loose oolong, and for finding it at a reasonable price.
There is a store near where I work, though, that sells loose leaf teas…and bicycle parts and accessories. Now you see why the title. At any rate, I plan to go and have a look this week to see if they have oolong and how much they’re asking for it. Hopefully I’ll have a delicious cuppa within the next few days.
Heck, and maybe I’ll pick up a patch kit for my bike tire while I’m there.