I'm not just a coffee drinker; I also like tea. I think the first time I had tea was back when I thought there were only a few kinds available. For hot, it would be the Lipton tea, and for cold, it would be Nestea. My mom had another kind called Constant Comment, and I only remember it because she gave me the tin box to play with, and it had the most amazing smells. I also remember taking a special trip to the Biblot shop on Como Avenue where I picked out a miniature tea tin of black tea with fruit.
Over time I tried the vanilla teas and the herbal fruit blends. When I went to work full time in an office cubical, the only exciting part of my day was drinking Good Earth Sweet and Spicy Blend from my kangaroo mug. The kangaroo mug was a cute idea, but not well thought out. The mug had a built-in ceramic "pouch" on the side where you could store a dry teabag. But if you used your teabag and put it in the pouch, then every time you took a drink, you'd have tea from the wet bag dribbling down your face.
When I was in Chicago last summer, one of my favorite places to go was ArgoTea. They brew their tea on location and make specialty drinks from all their different flavors with almond or soy milk. One time I had a Red Velvet - red tea and almond milk. Another time I tried a Sangria - like drinking wine. We have a few places in the Twin Cities area that serve tea drinks. There's a place called SIP Coffee Bar in NE Minneapolis that makes red tea lattes. The Valley Natural Foods Co-op in Burnsville also has a few selections, and I've also ordered decaf tea lattes at the Starbucks. Of course, you can get authentic Chai at some of the Indian or Afghani restaurants. I'm still hoping that someone will open an ArgoTea here in the Twin Cities.
My current favorite in the morning is White Ayurvedic Chai from Teavanna. I brew this in a two-cup cast iron teapot. I've also made my own lemon ginger mint tea. I put a slice of Meyer's lemon (sweeter than regular), a slice of fresh ginger, and fresh mint leaves in the tea strainer and steep it in almost boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
My favorite evening tea is Evening in Missoula from TeaSource. (chamomile, rosehips, raspberry, papaya, peppermint, spearmint, vanilla, strawberry leaf, passionflower, red clover, anise, lavender, cherry bark - all in one tea!) I brought my little teapot to Duluth with me and had some of this on some of those brisk early summer evenings.
I've tried a lot of teas over the years, and after a while I had so many containers and boxes and tins that I was taking up valuable real estate in my cupboards and on my counters. So, I bought myself a tea suitcase. I cut up the cardboard boxes and keep the name of the tea with the tea bags in a ziploc, and then I put them in this decorative box. Sure, there are some that still sprawl out over the counter, but it's not as unmanageable as it was.
Fellow readers, do you have any favorites? I think trustinfaith mentioned a raspberry chai. What other tea flavors and tea shops do you like?