If I were asked when my very first cup of tea was had, I would remember pawing through my parents' kitchen cupboards when I was, oh, 12 years old I imagine, and coming across my mum's box of Celestial Seasonings. It was the bright colourful image on the box combined with the image of my mum sticking her special tea mug into the microwave before bed that made it so appealing. It was one step into the adult world that I so craved at the time.
I couldn't tell you what variety it was, but I'm sure it was something like exotic spiced mango passions, or sleep like you've never slept before. This gateway tea of course led to the greens, blacks, and now reds and whites of the world.
I hadn't thought of that first virtous herbal beverage in a very long time.
Until I moved to the Czech Republic. Or shall I call it the reigning kingdom of fruit tea? Walking down the tea aisle in a Czech supermarket is like entering the lushest of all orchards - images of cherries, strawberries, oranges, plums and all kinds of citrus beg shoppers to be taken home. At first, I was taken aback. This is not tea, I thought. Where is my oolong, or even a simple white variety? Aha, there is the white, packaged as white with pear.
After years of heading to specialty shops for a package of gunpowder green, I've finally started embracing fruit tea this winter. No bitterness found with over-steeping, or worries about how much caffeine has entered my body that day. Nope. Only warm, pure and innocent fruit tea.
For those not living in the land of fruit tea, there's a great how-to by Whole Foods on herbal fruit tea. Use their recipe as a rough guide. Any herb, combined with citrus zest and dried fruit will make a lovely drink. Think dried apple or plum and cinnamon stick pieces, or a berry mix with bits of a vanilla pod. Use this as an excuse to turn the oven on some cold wintery evening and fill the house with whatever aroma you fancy.
So what will it be? What variety will you come up with?
Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy!