(PCM) January is the go-to month to celebrate hot tea, for obvious reasons. Hot tea can take the edge off a cold winter day; it warms the body and releases feel-good chemicals in the brain like serotonin and dopamine which can help fend off winter blues. Tea is also well-loved for its medicinal properties: during cold and flu season, drinking tea can keep you hydrated, help fight infection, and boost energy and brain function to get you through the day.
After water, tea is the beverage of choice around the globe. Black tea (often of the iced or instant persuasion) is the most popular by far in the United States – it has a reliably strong flavor, a long shelf life, and a caffeine serving just shy of coffee. Reach for a Darjeeling, Ceylon, or a familiar blend like English Breakfast if you are need a familiar pick-me-up.
Or, in the spirit of Hot Tea Month celebration, you might consider something new-to-you. Black, green, white, oolong and pu-erh (fermented) teas all come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis) but differ in their cultivation. Each variety (varie-tea?) has a distinct profile and flavor, from delicately floral whites to bodaciously herbaceous greens.
Herbal teas (known as “tisanes” to connoisseurs) are infusions made from any number of fruits, roots, herbs and flowers other than Camellia sinensis and thus are not tea at all, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also get a nod. January is a long month, with thirty-one days to explore hot tea in all its delicious forms. Most herbal teas are a great caffeine-free alternative to tea or coffee and, with their many varieties, can offer a pharmacopeia of purported health benefits as well.
Whether you’re into fruity, minty, mellow, bold, or just, in the immortal words of Captain Picard, “Hot”, January’s month-long celebration is the perfect time to steep yourself in the earthy gifts of tea – so go on! Get out there and get your tea on!