Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tea for Two?

I just wanted to provide a short update. I have decided to wean myself from green tea, and it's as much because I don't want to be dependent on something I can not grow in Maine, as it is the caffiene content and its effects on my body.

I'm still drinking green tea, and I will continue, because I have, something like, seven boxes of green tea in my cabinet (stocking up, you know?), and I won't waste it. So, I've been having a few cups in the morning, and in the afternoon, I'm switching to Roiboos tea, but red tea is grown, almost exclusively, in Africa, and so it won't be a long-term substitute.

I did, however, develop my own interesting blend this evening. I used chamomile, sage, one clove, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of cardamom. I realize that none of those spices grow in Maine, either, and I will continue looking for some spicy, earthy herbs to make my tea (maybe some tarragon ...??), but my feeling is that I could substitute green tea with my personal tea blend for a fraction of the cost of the green tea (assuming I grow my own chamomile and sage), even if I buy the spices, and I'm not positive, but pretty sure that the spices aren't as addictive as caffiene. So, if I can no longer access them, at least I will have already gone through the withdrawals ;).

One other benefit to my tea blend is that I drink it with honey rather than sugar, but I prefer green tea with sugar. When we start harvesting honey and start eliminating sugar, I'll want to have made the transition away from sugar, too. Sugar is also addictive, and something I will want to eventually wean myself off ;).

Thank you everyone who offered suggestions and encouragement.

And if anyone knows of a great, spicy herb that likes cold weather, let me know ;).


  1. I don't know exactly what you mean by spicy. But I do know that lemon balm makes a lovely tissane. I also know that some people enjoy lavender as an infusion, and that mondarda/bergamot/bee balm was drunk in the colonies as a tea substitute in revolutionary times when black tea was boycotted by the colonists. Then there's a plant I'm eyeing for a permaculture guild this year called the New Jersey tea plant. Obviously, it's considered tea-like as well. I can't speak for the flavor of mondarda, though the fragrance is outstanding and seems like it would taste lovely. No idea what the NJ tea would taste like, but I can let you know in a year's time, or maybe less. Lavender wouldn't be my thing straight up, but I could see blending it with something else, especially some dried berries that might not be eating quality in a fresh state.

    I suspect most or all of these would grow in Maine. And have you considered growing ginger or lemon grass in a container to be brought indoors during winter?

  2. Kate - thanks for the great suggestions.

    Bee balm! I hadn't thought of bee balm, which is funny, because it's growing all over my garden ;). I bet it would be yummy with some other dried herbs I have.

    I'd love to hear more about the New Jersey tea plant. Anything that's an edible perennial in my climate is interesting ;).

    Have you ever heard of anyone grating and drying horseradish for tea? It's spicy, and I have it in my garden, too. I may try it ;).

    I'm not sure how to describe how I like my tea. I like my tea very strong, slmost to the point of bitterness. I was a coffee drinker for many years ;).

  3. Hmmm...ginger root? I did a little goolin' and it seems we can grow wild ginger here. Another herb is Anise Hyssop if you like licorice.

  4. Fleecenik: I've actually grown "wild ginger", but I was told it's not the same thing as the ginger from the store. It's a shade perennial with a very pretty little flower, which is why I liked it (at the time). Is it the same? Can it be used like the ginger from Asia?

    Funny that you mention Anise. I put that on my "to order" list from Johnny Seed after I posted this ;). I do like licorice. I also added cumin to the list - not for tea, but it's one of my favorite spices for meat rubs. I had no idea I could grow it here ;).

  5. First, I'll just say that I think some trade is a good thing, not a bad thing, and tea (as well as spices and COFFEE!) are good things to trade (not much water to ship around the world stupidly). Likewise, citrus fruit is season, IMO, should not be banned. Keys being IN SEASON and as locally as possible -- so Florida not California for me and you. Also, IMO, caffeine is a wonderdrug.

    But if you want substitutes, teaberry for spicy tea would be good. Sassafras was a staple here in Appalachia (although some sources will tell you it is poisonous). And if you need caffeine, holly although I imagine that tastes vile for some reason.

  6. Oh, CG, I totally agree with you. We occasionally have oranges around Christmas - when they're in season in Florida ;), and I love tea and spices from the Orient (cinnamon!) and Deus Ex Machina likes his coffee.

    It's not that I think those things should be banned. My concern is that at some point those things may be incredibly expensive and/or rare where I live, because while I'm only a few hours' drive from Boston (a major port city), if I don't have a car, it becomes a much longer trip. There is a likelihood that I won't be able to have ten cups of tea per day, like I do now, and it's better to eliminate the need for the substance and/or find alternatives before I have no choice in the matter.

    Is sassafras the same root that's used in rootbeer? Seems I read that somewhere ....

  7. If you like the assertiveness of bitter coffee, maybe you should consider the chicory/dandelion root. Or check out what Hank's done recently with acorns as a beverage. I know you've got acorns. You know where to find Hank?

    Oh, and - Duh! I spelled Monarda wrong...twice. But I'm sure you knew that and kindly forbore to correct me.

  8. I'm glad to know the alternatives are just that, alternatives! With you, that's what I figured, but still, the quest for purity sometimes kills people's sense.

    Anyway . . . sassafras is a tree/shrub here, yes, same as root beer, and file (thickening for gumbo). (There is a great song, "corn bread, molasses and sassafras tea, these little things mean the world to me") Husband says spring twigs of spice bush make the best tea. Also birch bark and spruce needles (a great source of winter vitamin C). I'm not sure what of that might not grow where you are.