By: Chrysa Smith

MP900321061If you’ve been reading my ramblings for awhile, you might imagine me as a gal with a spoon in one hand and a wine glass in the other. Truth be told: you wouldn’t be completely wrong; at least from 5pm on.

But those who know me even a little, know that more often than not, at any time of the day, I can be found nursing a soothing cup of hot tea. And here’s how the life-long addiction began.

Blame my mother. Yep, like with everything else in life, it’s her fault. That lady who birthed me also hooked me on the leaf—not just any leaf—but the black stuff, the ‘real’ thing. While other kids were finishing their glass of milk or juice, I was finishing a meal with a soothing, brewed beverage.

I think I might have been a bit ashamed of the habit when I was younger. It did seem like an old ladies drink. But I couldn’t stop. And now, at almost 50 years old, I’m so glad I was seduced at an early age by Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon (not swarthy men, but tea varieties). And here’s why.

With ancient roots, tea has a history of being ceremonial, traditional and something that makes people pause, sit, sip and relax. There’s something so deeply spiritual about inviting someone over for a cup of tea; probably because, like many habits, tea leads to other things–like deep conversation, emotional outpourings, life talk.

It’s natural. No artificial anything. Black tea takes it’s name from the color of the tea leaves. Yet, when brewed, it’s hardly black—thus it is also known as Crimson Tea.( bet you didn’t know that useless piece of trivia?) So glad these leaves can be found legally, otherwise my herb garden might have to open up some space for Camellia sinensis (aka: tea).

It’s got health benefits. Finally, an addiction that won’t make me fat or high—it is good for me. Of course, black tea has more caffeine than it’s weaker cousins (green, white and Oolong), but it’s also loaded with anti-oxidants—-best friends to our immune systems.

So, don’t look to me for recommendations on flowery, fruity or pale teas. Black is beautiful to me. And here are my favorites. You can find them in most grocery stores with a broader selection in their tea aisles.

PG Tips—–a favorite across the pond. Now I know why the Brits need their teeth-whiteners—and bad. It’s bold, it’s strong, it’s dark, but boy, is it good. Check out their website and their great tea spoof on the famous When Harry Met Sally restaurant scene, (video below—If you’re at work, you might turn your volume down, or you’ll have an office full of curious co-workers). See, told you tea is a good addiction.

Ty-Phoo—-–again, a big Brit brand. It’s also strong and dark and really good. And their website has some really cool tea facts: like using it for sunburn relief, adding shine to brunette hair and as a refreshing eye lift for tired eyes.

Hooked you yet? Come on. Try just a little. Add a little milk; sugar if you absolutely must. And oh, if you go British, get over your affinity for strings. These brands come in stringless bags, making it easier than brewing it loose, but your bag will be a floater—so make friends with a teaspoon. See? A drink so special, it has its own cutlery.