Weekend Cooking: Tea please



My mornings never feel right if I don’t start it with a cup of black tea with milk. These days it’s PG Tips, which I buy in big boxes from the Indian supermarket. As the day progresses, I may turn to green tea or Jasmine tea or Assam tea (no milk). And at the end of the day, I usually turn to my latest favourite, Rooibos and Honeybush tea (from, of all places, Trader Joe’s) which has no caffeine.

I have to blame my tea obsession on England!

More specifically, that one year when I lived in the UK and worked on my Masters at the University of Sussex. Almost ten years ago now! Before that I wasn’t a tea drinker. I occasionally drank English tea, say at high tea. Chinese tea for sure at Chinese restaurants, green tea at Japanese restaurants, sometimes at home, in Singapore. My parents are coffee drinkers. I tended to drink some Milo (a chocolate-y malted milk beverage) or milk in the mornings.

But living in the UK, you can’t really escape tea. My British classmate Becky introduced me to Earl Grey tea. It was something she always ordered when we had a break between classes, and the perfume-y smell of the bergamot intrigued me. Styrofoam cups aren’t the best thing for drinking tea but that’s what the cafeteria provided and that’s what we drank from. When I visited my cousin in London for a weekend, she introduced me to the smokey gorgeousness that is lapsang souchong.

Another classmate was confused when I asked for tea, no milk, when we were working on a presentation at her flat. She returned from the kitchen with the blackest of black tea I had ever seen.
“Sugar?” she asked hopefully.
I declined her offer of sweetening the tea which I later regretted. And I believed that marked the point of my learning to drink black tea with milk.

And so I left England with not only a Masters degree but also with a newfound appreciation for tea.

Today I cannot imagine going a day without drinking tea of some sort. I even carry teabags with me when we’re on holiday!

So I am a tea drinker. (I also like my coffee, usually in the form of a latte, in case you’re wondering).

And this is just part of the contents of my tea drawer.

My Japanese flatmate was the one who introduced me to Lupicia tea, a Japanese tea company. We send each other Christmas presents and some years ago she started sending me different types of tea from Lupicia and not long after that, Lupicia opened a small store in the Mitsuwa supermarket in San Jose, which we regularly make a trip to for some Santouka ramen and sashimi. And I love to pop in to see what new teas they have available, and sometimes make a purchase. The last tea I bought from them was a watermelon barley tea, which can be cold-brewed and is perfect for a hot day. I have a variety of green teas as well as black teas from Lupicia. And during the New Year, the store celebrates with Happy bags, which are mystery bags full of tea, often worth twice the price you pay (i.e. a $50 bag is filled with $100 worth of tea). Here’s an example from this year, over at Lacquerfiend. Lupicia in Japan, judging from the gifts my Japanese friend Yukiko has sent me, has a large variety than over in North America. They even sell cookies and sweets! Yukiko once sent me an unusual New Year tea that had black beans and some other beans in it. And last year, a tea that looks more like twigs than dried leaves, it’s called Kaga Bocha.

As I was typing all this, I was wondering, what exactly is my favourite tea. It’s hard to say. I love green tea for its clean taste, Jasmine tea too. Assam tea is for something a bit stronger. Barley tea for a refreshing cool drink in summer. Rooibos as it doesn’t have caffeine. But I also do like Darjeeling and Earl Grey (a bit less nowadays), Oolong and TieGuanYin. I’m always happy to try a new tea as long as it isn’t too flowery (with the exception of Chrysanthemum tea) and sweet!


If the tea isn’t in a tea bag, I use the Finum brewing basket for the loose leaf tea. Otherwise, I use a little teapot that I got from Daiso.

Anyway, it is the start of autumn, and while we seem to be in a bit of an Indian summer as usual here in the SF Bay Area, I’ve been breaking out my tea more often! As I’m typing this I’m drinking an Earl Grey that I bought from a stall at the farmers market. It’s not bad as it’s not too Bergamot-y!

Well, I hope you liked my little meander through my tea drawer. Do you like to drink tea? What’s your favourite tea?




Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs



  1. I love talking about tea almost as much as talking about books – and while I have friends who read, no one else obsesses about tea like I do! I was pretty much a black tea (with milk & sugar) drinker before I moved to Houston, but there is such a variety here to explore. My tea section doesn’t match yours though! I still drink black tea (with milk & sugar) in the morning (Bewley’s, an Irish blend of Assam and Darjeeling), or Twinning’s Orange Pekoe. In the afternoon I like Tippy Yunan (black) or Ti Kuan Yin (oolong). I’ve had to give up caffeine in the evenings, which makes me feel old – in the winter I drink a rooibos chai or a hot cinnamon rooibos. I usually brew loose tea, which is impossible when I’m traveling. Not being able to get good tea when I’m traveling is a real pain – I often fall back on Starbucks, which at least uses boiling water. And I like their chai lattes, though I wish they’d use less sugar in them. And there’s always ice tea.

    I will have to look for Lupicia tea!


  2. I drink coffee until noon and then I switch to tea (iced in the summer, hot in the winter). I am a black tea kind of gal — I like Earl Grey, I like Constant Comment, I’m not a huge fan of the smoky teas. I also drink green tea, Chai (usually a black tea), and some herb teas. I am always buying samples of all kinds of places, especially when they’re on sale.


  3. Earl Grey never appealed to me much but I most certainly have tried lots of teas growing up. My parents loved tea & they used a brewing ball for loose tea. I need to experiment more as I automatically order coffee when out. Great post and a most impressive tea collection.
    Ps : Totally jealous of your year in England!


  4. I loved Earl Grey the first time I drank it, but I find if I drink it too often, I lose touch with the delicate taste. I prefer the smokier teas at the moment.


  5. I love pu-erh and oolong teas. I also like green tea and genmaicha. Thanks for introducing Lupicia – I’ve not heard of it before but shall check it out when I’m next in Paris (nearest place from Brussels where they have a shop). Have you tried the green tea from Ippodo (from Kyoto)? Their teas are excellent and they have a shop in NY.


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