My ears and hands felt cold this morning as I waited for the bus to get to work. So, it’s official: autumn is here. Goodbye ice teas, PIMMS and picnics and hello cosy blankets, fireplaces and a warm cup of tea. Of course, the weather never stops us having our favourite cuppa no matter the temperature, but there is something comforting and almost magical in warming your body and hands with a tea.
As the pumpkin spice and gingerbread lattes show up in coffee shops, tea drinkers also have some seasonal choices to be delighted about, which I want to explore. Not only are they natural and sugar-free by default (unlike those flavoured syrups in coffee) but they are also good for you.
Chai – warming spices
A traditional Indian drink, chai is usually black tea with spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves mixed with warm milk. It’s up to personal preference how milky you make it, but it has to be more than a splash! Similar to a latte, you’d put quite a bit of milk in it. In India, they also use some sort of sweetener, like sugar, to bring out the spices but I think that is up to drinker. I hate any sugar in my tea, so I wouldn’t add it.
While black tea is traditionally used in chai, I absolutely love a green chai! Whittard sell a blend called Shanghai Chai and as soon as the cold weather is settled I probably have it at least 3-4 times per week. I find the spices complement the smoothness of a Chinese green tea, whereas with black tea they work to get rid of the astringency and elevate the brew.
Lemon and ginger
Many people regard lemon and ginger tea as something to drink when you have a cold, but who is to say you can’t use it to warm you up too? A naturally caffeine-free brew, lemon and ginger tea is perfect for when you come back from work in the evening and you want to warm up after the journey, or if you fancy taking a cup of tea to bed! I drink quite a bit of tea at my desk at work so I use it in between my caffeinated cups to prevent me from becoming a jitterbug!
You can find lemon and ginger teabags in any supermarket and, as they don’t contain tea leaves, I find it acceptable to have it from a teabag. However, you can also try the real deal by slicing some ginger and lemons and pouring hot water on top! Just make sure to brew it for longer as you’re using large fresh pieces so the water doesn’t infuse as fast. I’d recommend 5-10 minutes depending on how much ginger fire floats your boat.
Milk Oolong – buttery popcorn
This is one of my all time favourite tea and I couldn’t miss it from this list. If the feeling of a hug would have to be reproduced in a drink, it would be Milk Oolong. The name, and butteriness, come from the fact that the tea leaves are traditionally steeped in milk during the manufacturing process, before they are dried and rolled. Although some tea producers add milk flavouring to the tea, so you’ll have to check the label before buying.
Oolong is a type of tea originating in Taiwan and, depending on the way the leaves are processed, is on a scale between black and green tea. Some are more like black teas, some are more like green. Milk Oolong is definitely a greener Oolong and you can read the full brewing notes here.
Of course, nothing will be able to replace your favourite cup of tea for that comforting feeling of warming up from the cold, but I hope I’ve given you some seasonal ideas to experiment with. Who says coffee drinkers should have all the fun when it comes to the cold season?
Until next time,