If you’re like me and reside on the east coast, you’re probably reveling in the cold weather and recent snowfalls. The outdoors may be frightful, but indoors is where time is best spent amid the frigid cold month of January. There’s nothing like curling up with a warm blanket, reading your favorite book and enjoying a warm cup of tea.
Speaking of tea, January also happens to be National Hot Tea Month. The apt theme is a wonderful reminder of the simple yet wholesome powers of tea. Feeling cold and dreary? Sip on a cup of tea. Need a quick pick-me-up? Sip on a cup of tea!
There’s of course no right or wrong way to enjoy tea. If you take your tea as is, that’s perfectly swell. But if you’re looking for ways to add some variety to your morning (and daily) cups, then Salon Food has got you covered.
From citrusy additions to non-dairy milk alternatives, here are five ways to spice up your tea:
01 Add a slice (or two) of lemon
Tea is packed with antioxidants, hence why so many ardent drinkers prefer it over its caffeinated cousin, coffee. A great way to amp up tea’s immune boosting qualities is to simply add a slice of lemon. Lemons are full of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamin C — which are all necessary to help battle the bitter cold. They also tout several health benefits, like preventing kidney stones, cleansing the digestive system and soothing a nagging sore throat, just to name a few. Pair the lemons with freshly grated ginger and you’ve got yourself the perfect cold-fighting cocktail.
The practice of adding lemon to tea first began in China and later, was adopted by Russians and European aristocrats. Lemon pairs exceptionally well with Earl Grey, Assam or Oolong teas. It can also be added to herbal teas for extra tartness and sweetness.
02 Don’t be afraid to throw in some fresh mint leaves
Reddit user u/meganips raved about adding plain dried spearmint leaves to their cups of tea. “I think it cuts some of the bitterness out and balances the [flavor],” they said. The leaves are thrown into black tea along with a bit of cream and some sugar. The mint leaves, u/meganips added, also taste great in green tea and chai.
Other fellow mint lovers recommended brewing fresh sprigs of mint with various herbal teas, like chamomile, hibiscus, valerian and rooibos. If you don’t have fresh mint on hand, a bag of mint tea also works fine! Simply add the bag to your choice of warm tea and enjoy.
03 Take a chance on non-dairy alternatives
Dairy-based creamers may get a lot of praise for its high fat content, but non-dairy substitutes also have much to offer. First, they provide just the right amount of sweetness to offset the bitterness of tea. Second, they help produce a smoother, creamier beverage. Third, they are the ideal option for those who can’t handle lactose. And fourth, they offer more variety than plain, boring milk. There’s almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, oat milk, rice milk and so much more. Oh the possibilities!
Creamers and milk are best paired with any blend of black tea, be it English breakfast tea, Darjeeling or Earl Grey teas.
04 Experiment with spices and florals
Lavender, rose petals, cloves, cinnamon and star anise are just a few popular options. Take for example Thai tea, which is made from strongly-brewed black tea and spiced with star anise, crushed tamarind and cardamom. There’s also classic hot spiced tea, a perfect beverage for both the holidays and the cold winter months. All you’ll need is water, whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, black tea, orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice and sugar.
Spices and florals also pair incredibly well with honey. In addition to lemon-ginger tea, warm tea infused with spices and mixed with honey makes for a potent cold-fighting cocktail.
05 If honey isn’t your cup of tea (pun intended), try maple syrup instead
Described as “a less bad version of sugar” by Healthline, maple syrup is another great option for sweetener if honey, creamers or plain sugar aren’t all that appealing. Many tea lovers on Reddit recommended adding maple syrup — which has a considerable sugar content — to a strong cup of black tea. Despite its thick and sticky consistency, maple syrup won’t settle at the bottom of your cup and instead, dissolves rather quickly.
When it comes to spicing up your tea, experimentation is your best friend. Don’t be afraid to add whatever your heart desires to create your own unique concoction. The results may shock you or change your life forever. After all, that’s what the joy of drinking tea is all about.