Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Adventures of an Amateur Tea Drinker

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I had my first sip of tea in 20+ years. I wrote about it the next day and promised I’d let you know how my adventures as a tea drinker continued to unfold. Since then, I have had some form of tea almost every single day. I’m completely sold on it. I feel healthier drinking it. No joke. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as tea is known to have some incredible health benefits. But I didn’t know I’d feel the effects so quickly. More on this in a moment.

The first tea I tried after my last blog post on tea was a chai latte. I got it from Beans & Brews. It was phenomenally good, just as I had hoped for. It’s like cinnamon-sugar-honey-vanilla hot chocolate, but without the chocolate. Darn good stuff. A couple of days later, I tried the Teavana® Oprah Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks. I would describe it as a brighter, slightly more fragrant version of the chai latte I got from Beans & Brews. It reminded me very much of apple cider, but without the slight tart of apple. It also had a rather strong black pepper taste to it that I rather liked. It tickled the throat on its way down. A couple of days later, I was back at Beans & Brews, having yet another chai latte. This time I went in the morning by my dang self and had “scripture study” as I drank my tea. Ha ha. Times have changed. It was a really nice experience, I must say. I could get used to it.

At this point, my tea drinking went cold. That is, I returned to drinking iced tea almost exclusively. I got some Lipton® Tea & Honey Blackberry Pomegranate Iced Green Tea packets from the grocery store. It’s super good. If you’ve had Crystal Light, it’s very much along the same lines. But it’s better somehow. There is an almost toasty quality to the flavor, I’m tempted to say. I really, really like it. We’ve tried to keep ourselves stocked up on this product now. I credit this tea with the health benefits I’ve experienced, but again, I’ll come back to that in a minute. I’ll note here that I’ve also tried Crystal Light Raspberry Green Tea, which wasn’t that great, and from a bottle, Diet Snapple Peach Tea, which was even less enjoyable.

On Friday the 13th, Melanie and I took the kids to Fashion Place Mall to see the many Lego sculptures on display. While there, we figured we’d hit Teavana once again. Melanie had iced tea, a blend of two different kinds of herbal teas. I don’t remember what flavors she had, but the result was sensational (even if not real tea). I went for a hot tea, opting for Toasted Nut Brulee Oolong Tea, which the Teavana employee told me would taste like an oatmeal cookie. I requested it as a latte (i.e. with milk), but it was a hectic situation and they overlooked that. It was pretty good, but it benefitted greatly from a dash of Half & Half, which I added after stopping at a 7-Eleven when my tea was nearly gone. (I didn’t stop for the sake of the Half & Half, by the way.) The cool thing is, the tea bag thing (can’t remember what they called it officially) was left inside my drink so I could re-use the tea leaves. (Apparently, you can usually get 3–4 “infusions” out of the same tea leaves.) Reusing those tea leaves, I’ve had tea and toast for breakfast on three of the last four days. This morning, I splashed it with some Irish Crème creamer, which was quite nice. The tea had gotten a little weak, but it was still nice.

Yesterday, Melanie and I took advantage of a BOGO at Starbucks and tried, at the recommendation of a friend, a Green Tea Crème Frappuccino® Blended Crème. (We didn’t say all that when we ordered, for the record. We’re not that snobby.) It was like a green tea milkshake, basically. Which means it sort of tasted like a grass or hay milkshake, but in a yummy way. Yeah, I know. But it really is good, somehow.

So, let me tell you why I already feel much healthier drinking tea. For one thing, my desire for Diet Mountain Dew has dissipated to a surprising degree. I am drinking less soda, and I think my stomach feels more at ease because of it. I also feel happier. And yes, various sources will tell you that tea can help with anxiety and depression, which is something I’ve struggled with. Recently, I was going to set up a doctor appointment to see about getting on drugs. Lately, I don’t feel a need for that. Could it be the tea? I really think so, at least in part. And I’m much more content to drink tea than pop pills! And finally, I think tea is staving off gout flare-ups for me. Gout flare-ups can really, really suck. They can be very painful. They’re no joke. Well, about a week ago, my big toe was starting to swell and ache. That usually means I’m going to be in for at least a couple of days of discomfort, if not a week of hell. But it went away almost immediately. I was very pleased and thought it might have been nothing. Well, a day or two later, I go without any tea for the first time in several days. By that night, my toe was aching worse than it had a few days earlier. So, the next day, I resume drinking tea. There goes the pain. This isn’t something I’m making up, either. The anti-inflammatory properties are yet another health benefit of tea. Really, I’m tempted to say drinking tea has been one of the best moves of my life. I can’t believe how it’s impacting me for the better. It’s the best medicine I’ve ever discovered, and the only one I’m keen to take. Here’s to tea!

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