5 Top Teas

Sometimes it feels like rain is Edinburgh’s default weather. So while the clouds sulk outside and the world cowers under umbrellas, wishing spring would finally sprung, it seems only appropriate to share something warm and lighthearted with you. Things have been so heavy and grey recently.

A lot of bloggers of my age, gender, and ethnicity have their hot drink preferences highlighted on their About Pages and, for the most part, it’s guaranteed to be coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good blend, it’s very much a social drink to me, one for company and good conversation. I’m a plain cappuccino sort of person with a preference for South American beans.

But that’s not what I was going to tell you about. When undisturbed in my natural habitat, I am my father’s daughter, I drink tea like other people drink water.

Regular tea is the default of course, strong with a dash of milk and unpolluted with sugar, but there are simply so many kinds of tea, more than enough for every mood and occasion. So with damp clouds dripping at the window, let’s warm you up with five of the best teas you will ever drink.

5. Chai

spiced black teabags | no milk | Twining’s or Asda’s own

No, it’s not the tooth-rottingly sweet, overly milky, authentic Indian spiced tea (although I have a friend who makes that beautifully). This chai is the spiced black tea one can pick up in packets from the supermarket. Twinings do a nice version. I like it best without milk but each to his own, it’s a warming drink and something about the spices is relaxing. Another bonus is the wonderful smell

A good cup to drink on a winter’s day or as a relaxing brew before bed.

Rating: three and a half out of five kumquats.

4. Ginger

two slices of ginger root in hot water | can add honey/lemon available anywhere

This isn’t technically tea but it is a firm favourite simply because I really like ginger. Although you can add honey and/or lemon, I only tend to do that if I’m coming down with something. It works a charm on colds.

I’m not sure what the deal is with ginger on the natural remedy front but this tea (minus the honey and lemon) helps if I feel nauseous, even when it’s the dizziness-induced kind. Again, it’s a nice one to drink before bed or after a large meal or a lot of junk food. The science is beyond me but I can tell you that it makes you feel fresh (and refreshed) and it’s ginger, so what’s not to like?

Rating: four out of five kumquats. Takes fourth place as it isn’t real tea.

3. Redbush and Blood Orange

redbush/rooibos with blood orange | black, no milk | ???

Redbush and blood orange was one of those accidental but delightful finds. I was trying to finish my novel and coffee would have just added to the stress.

Redbush is a nice, naturally decaffeinated tea to begin with, drinkable with or without milk, I guess (no sugar, never sugar). Add the blood orange and you have a wonderful blend.

Unfortunately, I discovered it at the cafe at the National Museum and have no idea who their supplier is, I must ask sometime. But for now, I’m afraid that the Balcony Cafe in the National Museum of Scotland is the only place I’ve seen it.

Rating: four out of five kumquats.

2. Earl Grey

lightly citrussy black tea | tiniest bit of milk | supermarkets, Hettie’s

Everyone’s earl grey is different, some have a stronger lemon flavour than others, some are stronger on the tea than others. Genteel-type people drink it weak-ish, black, and with a slice of lemon. I like mine stronger with a little milk because I’m an uncultured swine. That’s not to say I won’t drink it black.

It must be said though, that the best Earl Grey I’ve ever had came from a small tea shop called Hettie’s in Pitlochry. Their teabags had cornflower petals in them, perhaps that’s the secret. All the same, if you ever pass remotely near that neck of the woods, you need to stop by for a cuppa (and some cake — oh! the cake!). You won’t regret it. But don’t be a snob about the timers they give you for your tea, they know what they’re doing.

Rating: four and a half out of five kumquats.

1. Rose

black tea leaf with dried rose petals | weak, black, no milk | Braithwaites, Dundee

Braithwaites’ rose tea sounds like something from a trashy regency romance or from a Pinterest afternoon tea board. It’s delicate, fragrant, and always lovely to drink, even chilled. Surprisingly, it’s not sweet, more like drinking the smell of roses. It’s difficult to talk about it without sounding just a little frou-frou but hey, I’m a girl and I guess it’s quite a feminine blend if there is such a thing.

This is very much a favourite, I brew it either with my manatea or in a cafetière — a good afternoon pot for writing.

I buy the blend loose-leaf from a little shop in Dundee called Braithwaites (also a good place to buy any tea you can imagine and a good number of excellent coffees) who sell all sorts and are far more reasonably priced than some of Edinburgh’s hipster haunts.

Anyway, it’s a pleasure and is refreshing drunk cold during summer too.

Rating: four and three-quarter kumquats (five is reserved for the perfect tea).

Honourable Mentions

Mint tea — apparently this isn’t a tea, but an infusion. All I know is that it is refreshing, hot or cold, and available in supermarkets.

Mango tea — black, loose-leaf tea with dried mango, best drunk black and available from Braithwaites (this is not a sponsored post!). It also works very well iced.

Sweet iced tea — I love it, though I prefer less sweet and more iced tea.

Who knew there could be that much variety — and that’s before we even arrive a the importance of your choice of mug. I hope this warmed you up a little and has encourage you to be adventurous and try something new and unexpected.

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