How many winos out there have ever taken tea leave? I have. This is my story.
I am a regular wine drinker. If a day goes by without having a glass, I know something's wrong. I've caught a cold and can't taste anything. I have a sore throat and don't have an appetite. Or I'm eating Chinese food (not that there's anything wrong with that) and uncorking a bottle would seem like a waste.
The day before yesterday I was so busy working that I had no time for a proper dinner and as I was lying down in bed I suddenly realized how out of whack the world was. Had I not had a glass of wine? I wasn't sick. My kitchen was well-stocked. What's wrong with me that I've skipped out on a drink? I didn't like how this felt. Something about it felt very very wrong -- I didn't drink though nothing was wrong, which is so wrong!
Looking at the clock approaching midnight from my pillow, I held still. I braced myself as I thought of leaping from the bed and storming into the kitchen to rip open a bottle. I could have a nightcap. I could take a little moment here.
T IS FOR TIME
But I wasn't moving. I think that's because I realized that wine calls out for more than a clear nose, an appetite, or an attractive food complement. Wine calls out for time. Indeed, time. The wee hours of Monday morning tend not to offer that and so I turned over and went to sleep.
But back for a moment to the Weekend Without Wine that this post refers to. In the middle of last month I managed to acquire a cold smack at the end of the workweek, as luck would have it. My weekend was decided for me. I faced a bevy of numerous and sundry teas, all served hot so as to soothe, all taken throughout the day at various times and with meals. The switch was instinctual I guess you could say.
Yes, with my cold, substituting teas for my usual glasses of wine was immediate. I drank teas, and my stuffed-up self managed to get some sense of aroma from the penetrating heat. I drank teas and more teas and appreciated their flavours.
T IS FOR TANNIN
I used to think tea was the teetotaler's perfect answer to wine. Both drinks are tannic, tend to have bouquets, and in general offer heightened taste experiences in liquid form. I respected tea's structure like I did a fine wine's, and went so far as to give them the wine tasting treatment. Yes I actually made tea tasting notes!
But how could tea and wine be more different if the only time I have tea is when I've ruled out wine. Unlike wine, tea doesn't require a clear nose. Tea doesn't require an appetite. Tea doesn't require an attractive food complement. Tea doesn't even require time! I'm practically having tea in mind as I write this.
T IS FOR TASTING NOTE
I expected to have something well-researched and insightful to say about tannic connection between wine and tea, but it turns out that I don't. I'm already moving on to the next T - Tasting. (It is interesting though how Wikipedia's entry on tannin swiftly goes from tea to wine to pomegranates to leather; and how the discussion on wine and tea both explain how we go to great lengths to minimize the tannic quality in our brews -- don't steep tea too long and always avoid press wine, which doesn't extract juices through gentle crushing.)
But I digress. Here are those tea tasting notes I wrote up.
Listed in order of serving:
Stash English Breakfast
Bigelow Earl Grey Green
Celestial Seasonings Green Tea
Lipton Orange Pekoe
Twinings Lady Grey
President's Choice Ginger & Peach Herbal Tea
Twinings Earl Grey
The green teas generally paired better when served with dinner meals or after dinner, however its level of caffeine could be considered an drawback of enjoying its strong flavour profile, its depth and its firm tannic finish.
Teas flavoured with bergamot, orange, and lemon were well-suited to light desserts and breakfast meals, especially breakfast loaves and breads. The citrus tones complement the yeastiness in the food.
English Breakfast could be a meal in a cup it is so full-bodied. The only one that could survive in the face of fatty foods and weighty dishes.
Summary: Each tea was so different that I liked them all in their own particular way. The Bigelow, in trying to compromise, is probably my least favourite. The blend is a nice idea but here it is not executed as well as could. The green overpowers the grey; the result seems disjointed. Both the Stash English Breakfast and Twinings Earl Grey are fine teas that I would return to any day.