Teas of Autumn: Venturing Beyond Pumpkin Spice
The fall season instantaneously reminds us of brisk air, rustling leaves, and pumpkin pie. And tea? Yes, please.
With temperatures falling and blankets coming out from storage, brewing a hot cup of tea often becomes a quotidian habit around this time of year. With Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner, we are perhaps too often reminded of pumpkin and apple as the flavors of fall. These pies, cakes, cookies, and other confections adorn dessert tables, but don't these cliché tastes leave something to be desired when it comes to the most soothing beverage of the season?
Going beyond the ordinary, there are a number of methods, add-ins, and new formulas that will give plain-Jane Assam or Chamomile a run for its money. The new teas of autumn can also serve to complement the more classic flavors of fall, since we're not quite ready to give those up, either!
Try out our personal fall favorite first: the masala chai latte.
This is the sophisticated tea and coffee drinker's answer to a traditional pumpkin spice latte, which has dominated the commercial beverage scene over the past decade. While the American appellation for this Indian beverage isn't quite accurate, there's no denying its rich flavor and aromatic powers.
- Boil a 3:1 mixture of milk to water (Make sure to use whole milk for the best results!).
- Pour masala chai into the mixture and heat on a medium simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add sugar to taste, along with a sprinkling of nutmeg and cinnamon. For the sugar, begin by adding 1.5 teaspoons for each cup of liquid in your mixture.
- Using a ladle and tea strainer, pour out the masala chai latte into individual cups, straining out the tea leaves; serve hot.
The result is a drink that emanates warmth – a rich and glorious dessert and beverage in one. The aroma awakens the senses with hints of cloves and cardamom.
For less of a sensory explosion, you could take the subtler route this season with classic vanilla.
Vanilla tisanes go hand-in-hand with warmth, and with the typical flavors and essences of the holiday season. The best way to get your fix? A tea sampler, of course!
Heavenly Tea Leaves' whole-leaf vanilla tea sampler is hand-blended and selected to please your taste buds on the briskest of days. This well-rounded pack includes Vanilla Black, Vanilla Rooibos Soufflé, Vanilla Green, Vanilla Rose Oolong for a variety of autumnal aromas. Because why should we choose just one? Bonus: it's certified kosher* and it makes a great holiday gift! Plus, herbal vanilla tea can be blended into black tea for a caffeinated kick, or drunk alone as a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual.
As it turns out, fall tea drinks aren't always about the heat. How about a tea cocktail? Some earl grey gin, perhaps?
World of Tea introduces us to this concoction, served at some of New York's trendiest bars like the Pegu Club. While mixed drinks like these are served at room temperature or chilled, they definitely warm us up on the inside. Plus, the earthy earl grey flavor is definitely a nod to the tones of the season.
Tony Gebely writes: "The Procedure: Steep 4 Tbsp of loose earl grey tea into a 750ml bottle of gin for two hours. Strain."
"Tea is astringent," he continues, "and in that sense can work almost like bitters, but you'll have far better luck with tea in the base spirit of a sour, with plenty of acid and sugar to round out and cut the tannic edge of the tea . . . Remember, proof in the spirit works like water temperature. You'll get more intense flavor steeping into a base spirit than you will a lower-proof wine, vermouth, or liqueur."
In other words, stronger alcohol is equivalent to hotter water, and black tea in cocktails goes well with sweet and sour flavors. Here's to an interesting brew.
Ginger is another invigorating fall flavor of tea that will never be dull on the palate. The properties of ginger are complex: it is at once pungent, spicy, and earthy. The root has also been known to help alleviate nausea, inflammation, soreness, and other ailments.
The best way to round out ginger's punch is to combine it with a splash of versatile citrus. Lemon – a flavor adaptable year-round – does this job perfectly. Heavenly Tea Leaves' blend, Ginger Lemon Green, which comes in a pretty silken pyramid sachet, satisfies all of our ginger desires in a healthy and balanced way. Not to mention, this one's organic.
And for some last-minute fun…
Take a look at this video in which Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi puts together a portrait called Teh Tarik Man out of 20,000 tea bags. The tea bags are individually steeped at various temperatures to create different shades of brown, resulting in an awesome final depiction.
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