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Tea Talk: 5 Ways to Up Your Tea Game for Afternoon Tea Week


Tea week is coming up, on August 12th to be exact, and it’s time to prove your tea-savvy self is ready for the challenge. That’s right. Can you take your tea time from a meaningless moment in your day into a healthy ritual that gives you a boost of energy and nutrition?

Learn how to make this moment mean the most when you power-up with the right kind of tea and tea pairings that transform a midday snack into the best part of your afternoon. These tea tips will have you sipping in style, pinkie in or out–that’s up to you.

1. Freshness Counts

If you’re holding on to any tea that’s more than two years old, it’s time to toss it. To be honest, if you’re not storing it right, it might have lost its flavor long before two years have gone by.

Tufts University newsletter TuftsNow gives some great tips on how to store your dried tea leaves to keep them fresher longer.

♦ Transfer tea to an airtight container.
♦ Make sure the container prevents light from getting to the tea.
♦ Keep your tea away from the stove and other points of heat.
♦ Keep your tea away from the sink and other moisture.

2. Green, Black, or Herbal

Which tea is the one you want to drink? All true teas come from the same type of plant, a camellia sinesis bush. While herbal tea is altogether different, it’s worth taking a moment to learn the difference before you try a taste test.

Green tea. To make green tea, whole leaves are cut from the plant at the peak of freshness, and then allowed to wither slightly before being pan-fried, oven-dried, or steamed to prevent oxidation. Because there is no fermentation, they stay green and have a lighter color and flavor.

Black tea. To make black tea, the whole leaves are cut the same as they are with green tea except they’re allowed to wither significantly to remove the amount of water in the leaves. Then they are set aside to oxidize and ferment. The longer they ferment, the darker the leaves will be. It’s this oxidation and fermentation that makes the tea dark and full-bodied in flavor.

Herbal tea. Herbal tea is an umbrella term that refers to an infusion made of herbs, spices, and other plant material in hot water. This means that green tea and black tea are both types of herbal teas. But herbal tea is a term that’s typically used to refer to tea made from dried fruits, flowers, spices, or herbs.

They come in a wide variety of flavors with different health benefits. Herbal teas may also have a shorter shelf life than traditional dried tea leaves.

3. Tea Time Ritual

Make your own ritual, so it’s something special you can look forward to every day. Not only that, there are proven benefits to all rituals. The best part of your tea time ritual is that it’s yours. You get to design it just the way you want.

Historically, the English drank tea, but afternoon tea didn’t really get its start until Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, began asking for tea and a snack to be brought to her in the late afternoon. This habit caught on and became a fashionable social event.

Original teas featured people dressed in their finest sipping imported teas out of bone china and noshing on dainty sandwiches or scones with clotted cream and preserves. Of course, your tea break need not involve bone china and long gloves, but it could if that’s what you really want.

4. Treats

Afternoon tea has been traditionally thought of as a way to curb hunger until dinner meal is served. This is why a treat of some sort is typically included. The following are some suggestions for snacks based on traditional afternoon teas, but you can obviously change them to suit your needs.

♦ Simple sandwiches or cucumber sandwiches
♦ Scones with clotted cream, preserves, or plain
♦ Cakes and tarts
♦ Biscuits or cookies

5. Invite Company to Join You

Tea can be served alone, but it’s nice to invite others to join you once in a while. Tea time gives you a break from the day to chat with friends and to briefly forget about what’s happening at work or home.

Inviting friends to tea not only adds fun to your ritual, but it can be good for your brain. An article in Psychology Today says socializing is good for your physical and mental health. They suggest having an active social life may have the following benefits:

♦ Longer life
♦ Better physical health
♦ Better mental health
♦ Lower risk of dementia

With all these benefits, it seems that making your healthy tea time ritual a time to hang with friends is the way to go.

Waking Up To Wellness

Take advantage of the celebration for the afternoon tea week that’s coming up. This is the perfect time to jump-start your new obsession and to start on the road to a healthier and happier you.

The first step in creating a tea time ritual is obviously to learn the difference between green, black, and herbal teas and then decide which one you want to start with. You can always try new ones throughout, to add intrigue or a zesty new approach to your tea break.

Once you’ve picked the tea you want to try, it’s time to select a few treats and invite a couple of friends to join you. Take turns hosting or making the treats. You can even take turns selecting the tea and the topics of conversation.

Whatever you decide to do with your new tea time, make sure it’s something you enjoy, and that it leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of the day.