Carolina from Wissembourg leads us into her world of tea.

Text read by Mary Peters

Drinking tea has become a habit for me. It is like talking, breathing, it is part of my routine. I think it is nice to hold something warm in your hands, especially during these cold northern European winter days and it smells just nice. Tea is like a friend to me, he is always there, makes things better and one can have great tea parties together. Then there is such a great variety, lots of atmosphere and drinking different teas to cure different ailments is like going to the chemist.

I drink a lot of tea, but the selection has to be very balanced. We have over 30 different types of tea in our kitchen, probably more! 

Just after my morning meditation, I drink a green tea with fresh mint. Then, for breakfast, I have a green tea with ¼ spoon of honey (sourced locally here in Wissembourg). Then, because I work from home at the moment, I prepare a pot of tea, about a litre, of green tea with perhaps maracuja, ginger, mandarins or something like that. I don’t use teabags; it is loose leaf tea and there is enough for about 3 to 4 cups.

For lunch, (usually yoghurt and fruit) I make some fresh tea, often a white tea, (a very pale green tea) or perhaps white tea with jasmine leaves.

During the afternoon, back a work, my choice changes to fruit or herbal teas and these are often just teabags: hibiscus, peppermint or anything else I can find at home. Then, during the evening I switch to teas with relaxing qualities, perhaps lavender, eucalyptus, teas which bring a certain Zen balance.

I have been drinking teas seriously for over ten years. But even before that, we drank tea at home in Lisbon. I never liked soft drinks, but iced tea with a slice of lemon during the hot summer days was like being in heaven. Then, once I moved from home, I discovered small, romantic shops selling all sorts of teas. The choice was huge, and it awakened my curiosity; so once or twice a week I would buy some tea and just try it. Over time you learn what you like and what you don’t and that hasn’t really stopped to this day. I still go out and try new teas. Green tea is the foundation of my taste in tea. The rest is like travelling. Different varieties are important, and there is still a lot to discover, like those expensive teas on the top shelves, where 100g cost €50. It is almost like buying wine. And I want to know if the price tag is equal to the quality.

To start exploring the world of tea, probably the most important thing is to have a kettle which comes with different temperature settings. They are not too expensive, perhaps €30 to €50, but they help you brew the tea to get the best out of the leaves. So, taking a loose-leaf maracuja and ginger tea, you would heat the water to 70 °C and then let it steep for just 2 minutes. Alternately, you boil the kettle and then let it stand for 12 minutes for the water to cool and then steep the tea for 2 minutes. Most herbal teas are best prepared by heating the water to 90°C and then letting them steep for five or six minutes. Just follow the instructions on the packaging when you buy your next tea.

Over the next few months, I will take you on an exploration of tea – and hopefully, in the summer, we can all drink a cup together.

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