Operation Tasty Tea

Saturday, April 6, 2013 -- 6:07 pm

Today I set a new personal goal for myself: over the next three weeks, I'm going to learn to like tea.

"But Brenna, you don't like tea," you're saying.  That is correct, I don't.  I hate tea.  Tea is gross.  Tea tastes like hot, dirty-flavored water. :P

I really, really want to like it though.  I've always wished I liked tea; in addition to it being one classic librarian stereotype that I've always longed to embrace, and while the taste itself has never pleased me, the concept of tea is appealing.  I'll be all curled up on my sofa on cold day, under a fuzzy blanket with a purring cat on my lap and a book in hand, and I'll reflect about how my perfectly cozy set up just lacks a badly needed cup of hot tea to be complete.  Logical?  Pfft, of course not.  Attainable?  Fuck yeah.

If other former-wannabe-turned-success-story tea enthusiasts on the internet are to believed (yeah, that's right, I researched how to learn to like tea -- this be serious shit, son) if you force yourself to try something you don't like every day for three weeks, your taste buds will adapt and start to like it.  So that's what I'm going to do for the next 21 days.  It'll be like a case of Stockholm syndrom, but with tea!  (If I could have this same drive and determination to learn to like vegetables as I do tea, I would be a much healthier person.)

So with a plan of attack in mind, I went out this afternoon with Husband and together we  assembled an arsenal of different tea flavors and sweeteners to start me off on.  Right now I'm simply focused on trying to identify which combination of tea and sweetener is the least repellant to my infamous picky eating tastes.

Teas:

  • variety pack of herbal fruit tea
  • vanilla chai
  • chocolate hazelnut, a flavored dessert tea
  • Earl Grey tea and strawberry tea (already kept in the house for guests)
Sweeteners:
  • sugar
  • french vanilla creamer
  • regular milk
  • honey

Set up:

For my first foray into tea experimentation, I chose a raspberry herbal tea.  After boiling water, I made a single cup full and allowed the tea bag to steep for only two minutes (the interwebs advised against steeping too long for novice tea drinkers, so as to avoid overly bitter results.)  This cup of tea was then split into four additional cups: one to sweeten with sugar, one with milk, one with flavored creme, one with honey, and the last unsweetened to serve as a control (MythBusters style!)

Results:

Let me begin by admitting that, despite the well-intentioned advice of the internet, I don't think I steeped the tea for nearly long enough.  The plain tea tasted like barely-flavored hot water.  Ew.  As far as sweeteners though, while sugar and honey both improved the taste (the honey slightly moreso than the sugar,) the french vanilla creamer was the clear winner.  It came the closet thing to resembling heaven in a mug -- relatively speaking of course, since the mug in question is filled with what tastes like muggy swamp water.

The creamer also came out on top when we repeated the same set up with Husband's mug of freshly brewed vanilla chai tea (also, it smelled omigosh amaaazing~!  Like Christmas in a cup!)  To be honest, I think we actually put in too much of the creamer and made the tea too sweet -- but it was at least sip-able, and that's something.

So in conclusion, day one of Operation Tasty Tea is off to a satisfying start.  (At the very least, I'm excited to finally have a reason to use my two wonderful library mugs that have been sitting sadly in my cupboard gather dust for the last couple of years.)  I've taken the first step on the road of no longer being a tea-snubbing pariah!  Mark my words, three weeks from now I will emerge from this experiment a whole new person!  Okay, well. . . maybe the same person. . . but one WHO LIKES DRINKING TEA.

*Determined face*

Ashley says:
April 6th, 2013 -- 6:40 pm

You know, the only problem with liking honey with your tea (or some other unusual sweetener) is that not all places have it. I have learned over time to make do with sugar if I have to, but it's just not "heaven in a mug" as you so eloquently called it. :)

Also, I would recommend steeping your tea for a long time. I have never encountered a bitter cup of tea in my life, except that maybe a weak cup of tea could be considered bitter to me. Maybe it depends on the brand of tea? Or where it comes from?

Best of luck Brenna!

Jill says:
April 6th, 2013 -- 7:05 pm

It took me a long time to like tea, and even so, the tea that I mostly prefer is earl grey (like my boy Picard). One type of tea based drink I love are London Fogs, they are delish! If you ever want to try to make one (assuming you haven't already?):
16 oz of milk. (2% or whole)
1 shot of vanilla syrup per 16 oz of milk
1 bag of Earl Grey tea
1/2 cup boiling water
Brew a small amount of Earl Grey tea. Add about ½ cup of boiling water to a mug along with a bag of Earl Grey. The result is an Earl Grey tea concentrate. Let steep for 2-4 minutes to achieve optimum flavor.Heat up milk. Access to a steamer is preferred. Add the vanilla syrup. (adjust according to taste)

April 7th, 2013 -- 1:10 pm

Assuming you don't have vanilla syrup, you can fake a london fog with your french vanilla creamer. I used to just heat up the milk in the microwave (who has a steamer anyways?) put the tea bag in, steeping for 2-4 minutes then add the creamer to taste. Very yummy!

Good luck with your tea experiments!

Brenna says:
April 7th, 2013 -- 10:01 pm

@Ashley: Thanks for the tips! I am starting to steep the tea for longer -- I did so today for some vanilla chai and it definitely had a stronger taste. . . but that taste was not good. . . Tomorrow I'm trying some chocolate hazelnut tea~!

@Jill and Melissa: I'm slightly intimidated by this fancy tea you're describing. It seems to have many more steps than simply: 1) boil water, 2) poor in hot water. I haven't even mastered how long to steep the tea for yet! Maybe I can buy one of these fancy London Fogs at a Starbucks? ^^;

April 8th, 2013 -- 10:11 am

You can get one at Starbucks, but they're too fancy pants to call it what it is. You have to ask for a Vanilla Earl Grey Tea Latte. While I am a devout Starbucks fan, I have to admit I like them better from Second Cup -especially because they just call it what it is. Mmmm London Fog.

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