The Benefits of Drinking Tea – My GuilTea Pleasure

I remember the day I almost choked on my pimento olive when my best friend asked whether we get bonuses at my place of work. We were in the midst of one of those career-related conversations, the kind we found SO dull when we used to giggle over Keanu Reeves posters back in the 90s (yes kids, some of you weren’t born then!) “Bonuses?!”  I tried to levitate my jaw which was virtually sealed down with adhesive to the floor.  I’m a blimming NHS GP and the public sector and health service are stretched to the limit.tea selection

Fortunately, I have never been the sort to have pound signs pinging out of my eyes and I think I speak on behalf of most of my profession when I say we really wouldn’t invest more than a decade of our lives in training if we were driven by the pursuit of fat wallets, not here in the UK anyway. My more financially savvy friends did degrees half the length of mine and earn around twice my salary. So, no – I don’t get a bonus. As far as I’m concerned, they’re an impalpable entity found in unicorn land along with company cars, corporate parties, mermaids and elves 😀

Here’s what we do get though: A reasonable amount of stress and oodles more reward, heart-warming cards, an opportunity to meet and look after people from all walks of life and LOTS AND LOTS OF TEA. I was the lady who had never tasted tea till my mid twenties (I couldn’t see the novelty of brown dilute musty water) but at 4am on a night shift when you finally have two free minutes to pause, nothing rejuvenates you more than a warm cup of tea. Even if it is out of a polystyrene cup from an age-old machine.wpid-img_20150103_231156.jpg

The Benefits of Drinking Tea

And so after a lifetime of not drinking caffeine, I finally realised the healing powers of tea, my simple but vital guilty pleasure and these were some of the benefits it yielded for me personally:

It was sociable. When everyone sat together at meetings with a mug in hand, I no longer looked like the idiot grasping the orange juice.fresh orange juice MarrakechIt (transiently) filled the crater in my stomach during all those lunch hours where I glared jealously at the organised bods who had woken up ten minutes earlier to make their quinoa salads and handcrafted sandwiches.

It warmed the cockles in a country where I felt cold the majority of the time. I could finally walk along the banks of the Thames without shivering and without goose bumps the size of cherries.St Paul's London riverside viewIt was cathartic during moments when I felt flustered or stressed. On these occasions, I would throw in a spoon of sugar for good measure and when the cup emptied, the situation may have been unchanged but I felt calmer for it.tea st james court tajmango green tea St James Court Hotel afternoon teaMy extended family in India no longer thought I was bonkers for not tasting a drink consumed by the masses virtually as soon as they exit the womb. And FYI, there’s nothing quite as aromatic as a traditional cup of Indian Chai made in a family kitchen in a saucepan with bundles of spices, cloves, sugar and milk. It’s the ultimate remedy and nothing I make out of a kettle tastes quite the same.kettle Hospice Museum LilleThere is a tea for every occasion. A peppermint tea to help you digest, chamomile to help you unwind, lemon, ginger and honey to help de-congest those sinuses.

Twinings tea bagsIt is a souvenir I can collect from all over the world, my most recent highlight being a regal and sensual saffron tea in Morocco not to mention the scorching pot of fresh mint tea that helped calm my nerves before that massage.

saffron tea Morocco
Saffron Tea in Marrakech
Marrakech fresh mint tea
Morocco’s famous fresh mint tea

Since discovering my love of tea, I’ve amassed a rather large collection of exotic teas. I don’t venture into the food halls of Fortnum and Mason or Harrods to find these (although they stock a great range if you’re equally enamoured by tea). My particular offerings include teas straight from the hilly plantations of Sri Lanka, the spice farms of Zanzibar, the pandan leaves in Bali and the famous apple tea we found in virtually every cafe in Patagonia.

pandan tea flavour
Balinese Pandan Tea

In fact, during our one night stay at the tea plantations in Sri Lanka, we stayed at The Heritance Tea Factory Hotel, a charming colonial abode housed in a an actual former tea factory where everything was tea themed. Had the weather been less rainy, we would even have had an opportunity to pick our own tea leaves and bring home our finished product.Heritance Tea Factory Hotel tea factory hotel Sri Lanka

And in Vietnam, I found perhaps the quietest tea house in the world, though I confess the  temptation for the Vietnamese drip coffee won out in the end

Reaching Out Tea House Vietnam
Reaching Out Tea House, Hoi An
Vietnamese drip coffee Hoi An
Vietnamese coffee

I have so many packets, powders and loose leaf teas floating around our kitchen in London, that Pumpkin with his slight OCD tendencies, finally buckled under the chaos of my tea stash and bought me a neat little tea chest to store them in. wooden tea caddy chestEvery time friends and family come round and I offer them tea or coffee, I am now able to present them my wooden tea caddy and they always stare in marvel, sifting through the picks rather like I do whenever I go to afternoon tea. And truth be told, my stomach does a little twirly dance when I find others equally intrigued by these world teas.

I like cakes. I love chocolate. I happily remain teetotal. But tea, tea, I think I need.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Part of a monthly travel blog link up hosted by Kelly, Emma and Rebecca


52 thoughts on “The Benefits of Drinking Tea – My GuilTea Pleasure

  1. Muddy Boots Bakes April 5, 2015 — 3:52 pm

    I loved reading this as a fellow tea lover! It’s such a cliche but in times of stress or success the kettle always goes on in our house. I’m a little in love with Tea Pigs at the moment xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 9:21 pm

      Tea Pigs do some great flavours don’t they?! Do you have a favourite? And I think you’re completely right Laura – it really has a magic away of momentary calming a stressful situation and celebrating a happy one! I don’t know how I was managing either before I took up tea!

  2. bigworldsmallme April 5, 2015 — 3:58 pm

    I am literally just getting into tea now, I was very much the same as you – brown muddy looking water haha! I understand it finally, it only took me 5 years in the U.K but I get it!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 9:23 pm

      Haha, yay we’ve converted you Sara!! But I’m pleased to hear that I’m not the only one who’s taken it up after years of not getting it! It’s hard to get by in England without it eh?! :mrgreen:

  3. I only starting drinking tea once I moved to England and met G’s parents – seriously all they ever do is drink tea and lots of it! I felt like the weirdo asking for a glass of water when every else was drinking tea so I learnt to drink it.
    I love that you did a post on tea; it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to pinch the really good quality Jing Tea Bags from hotels….they need to be liberated!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 9:28 pm

      Haha, as we were leaving the last hotel we stayed at which had fancy tea bags, I spotted Pumpkin taking them. ..I accused him of being so tight taking even tea bags but then I looked at how nice the flavours were and swallowed my words! Hehe. I think you made the right decision Kel – keeping a man happy by getting on with his Mum and keeping said Mum happy by drinking from her pot of tea. Not to mention how handy the new habit must have come on during all the afternoon teas ☺

  4. I’ve always had a penchant for a good cup of tea and love to try different types. More recently I’ve got to enjoy coffee more and loved the sweet Vietnamese drip coffee you mention. I must say I’m ever so slightly envious of your tea caddy!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 9:35 pm

      Haha, I was as excited as a child at Christmas when he came home on just a regular day with the tea caddy Suzanne ☺ I’ve still not swung round towards proper coffee but I can just about have a mocha or flavoured coffee so I suspect it’s only a matter of time, though honestly, if coffee shops here routinely served Vietnamese drip coffee, it’d be a different story altogether – it’s just so delicious isn’t it?!

  5. I am so glad to find someone equally in love with tea! I began drinking tea mainly to give my mother company after I returned from school. From the home-made milk-sugar tea to roadside strong milky tea with cardamom to green tea – I love them all. These days, I am having mango green tea and jasmine green tea! Now that I have seen your post, I think owning a tea caddy will enter my to-do list.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 9:38 pm

      How great that you enjoy trying so many different tea flavours & I think it’s so nice that you took it up to keep your mum company! It’s funny you mention mango green tea – I’ve only very recently discovered that one and I absolutely love that fresh mango scent! That’s definitely the one to purchase when a space in the tea caddy next becomes available ☺ Thanks so much for reading!

  6. Great play on words Shikha and I like the sound of the apple tea from Patagonia though my favourite is lemon verbena

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 9:48 pm

      Suze, I’m going to confess I’ve never actually tried lemon verbena! Is it very potently lemony? I don’t mind lemon flavour in things but it isn’t usually my first choice so perhaps that’s why I’ve shied away from it but must take your recommendation and try it one day! And yes, it was Pumpkin who first suggested “GuilTea”. At first I laughed, then I realised it was a stroke of genius for this link up ☺

  7. I didn’t join the tea world until my 20s either. I was always that person clutching the OJ or shivering down the street too! Now I love a green tea in the morning and a peppermint in the afternoon (and maybe a coffee for a treat on a Friday!) x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 9:52 pm

      I’m glad there’s a cohort of us that took it up in our twenties! Isn’t it funny how we can go from non drinkers to complete converts Char?! I love green tea too and have recently gotten quite into the roasted rice Japanese teas – there’s something that feels so healthy and clean about them ☺

  8. LondonKiwiEmma April 7, 2015 — 7:06 am

    I adore this – what a sense involved reminisce of your travels!
    Please tell me that once you run out of a particular tea it’s an excuse to re- visit!?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 9:55 pm

      Haha, no….I had totally not thought of that but I absolutely will do now, everytime one of the tea flavours run out now!! Thanks so much for reading Emma & for the great suggestion that I’m sure Pumpkin will love :mrgreen:

  9. What a tearrific post! 😀 Love that wooden box and the fact that you’ve collected tea from all over the world. I do that too! They bring back such good memories, don’t they? You get a glimpse into a country’s culture. It’s enjoyed differently everywhere yet it’s common in every place.
    And isn’t it nice that there’s a tea for every time or ocassion? 😉 I love my chamomile mint tea at bedtime. Ooh, and peach tea in the evenings are perfect. Ah, I also miss Turkish tea.
    Lovely post as usual Shikha! 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 10:00 pm

      Thanks so much Nita! Peach tea?! Seriously where can I find this joyous treasure, I’ve not come across that one yet. You are so right about the way it is so unique in different parts of the world and yet the concept of drinking tea unites so many nations across the world. I love the memories and moments of travel magic we can conjure up with just a cup of tea and I must remember to try it in Turkey if and when I make it there ☺

  10. I’m with you on that ! Nothing’s better than a good cup of tea. My favourite is the milky oolong 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 10:02 pm

      Oooh….I’m not sure I’ve tried milky oolong before. Sounds intriguing! I’ve definitely had it without milk which I also like but must give the milky version a go on that case! Thanks so much for reading ☺

      1. Oh no, you don’t put milk in it. The leaves have been dried with milk, but it looks like regular oolong. When you brew it, it has a hazelnut/buttery taste and it’s delicious. I would never put milk in an oolong tea 😉 And then, you can add 6 or 7 times water on top of it and it has always a different taste.

        1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 13, 2015 — 9:21 pm

          Oops! Good thing I didn’t make a major faux pas then by putting milk in an oolong! Hazelnut/buttery taste? That sounds absolutely delicious! I must try and locate it somewhere ☺

          1. I’ve bought mine on ebay, was very cheap 🙂

  11. My guilty pleasure is probably beer, but tea is a much healthier more practical souvenir! I do swear by chamomile for a good nights sleep too. 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 10:05 pm

      Haha, I’m sure my hubby would be with you on that one Katie as he enjoys trying different local beers when we’re on our travels too! Tea has turned out to be such a great souvenir – relatively inexpensive, always gets used up without causing any clutter and it’s unique and delicious ☺

  12. I can’t believe it took you until your mid twenties to try tea! I’ve been drinking it since I was a small child. Never even crossed my mind to think of it as brown musty water, but I suppose it is. I also put way too many sugars in mine.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 10:08 pm

      I think I’ve probably been fussy with fluids over the years? Come to think of it, I didn’t drink tea or coffee, I didn’t like fizzy drinks, I didn’t like milk – what on earth was actually hydrating me unless I was literally drinking my body weight on orange juice?! Now it’s such a regular part of life that I really don’t know what I was doing all those years!

  13. francaangloitalian April 8, 2015 — 4:37 pm

    I’m a big tea fan too and I like it almost as much as coffee. But as you mentioned, having a cup of tea is a good way to get sociable and also enjoy a nice drink 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 8, 2015 — 10:10 pm

      Thanks Franca! I have had a few coffees here and there but I haven’t fully been converted but then again, I’m hoping to head to Italy later in the year for a short break so maybe that could all change out there ☺ Thanks so much for reading!

  14. Love tea and love this post! 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 13, 2015 — 9:11 pm

      Thanks so much Becky- glad you’re a fellow tea lover, seems like there’s a few of us! ☺

  15. I think we are very much alike 😀
    I started drinking tea after I moved to Europe… as I don’t drink coffee and even though I love chocolate I avoid drinking all the time because you know why hahaha. So tea is the perfect option when I want to drink something healthy and warm 😀 I love it… I have such a big collection of teas in my house you wouldn’t believe hahaha… I bought some from Brazil last time I visited home and there are many others too 😀
    And I find it perfect with sweets… croissant, pain au chocolat, cakes, tarts… hmmmm! A guilty pleasure that is 😀

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 16, 2015 — 3:38 pm

      We really are similar Allane! I am the same – o would happily drink chocolate more regularly if it wasn’t so unhealthy so tea is a nice in – between! I think Brazil was one of those few places where I forgot to buy some tea though I did eat plenty of churros :mrgreen:

      1. Yes we are 😀
        Hmmmmm churros are sooo good! I found someone here in Munich who make them, though I still need to try 😀

  16. travelingsaurus April 10, 2015 — 3:08 am

    Yes! I actually switched from coffee to tea and haven’t looked back–I love it. I fell in love with red roibos in Africa, and always love my English breakfast, with breakfast, of course! And maybe some earl after lunch…and chai as a treat…

    Last but not least bubble tea. Which I had lots of access to in college but never liked until much later.

    Funny how tastes change over time, no?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 16, 2015 — 3:44 pm

      It really is strange Heather! I never would have imagined I’d turn into a tea drinker! Sounds like we have quite similar taste in teas! I too love Chai and Earl Grey, although I haven’t quite yet warmed to Rooibos though maybe I should have tried it out in Africa and then I might have developed a taste of it there! Thank you for reading ☺

  17. I’m surprised you didn’t drink tea until your mid-twenties. But I suppose I was the same way! I don’t remember ever drinking caffeine before and now I have tea almost daily. I tried (real) Indian Chai tea for the first time while in Singapore and I fell in love with it straight away! I love your collection of teas around the world! the Balinese Pandan tea looks so interesting. D is a HUGE fan of Taiwanese tea (he swears this region makes the best in the world), so now that we’re in Taipei, we’ve been enjoying the tea a lot here!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 16, 2015 — 3:47 pm

      Oh wow! I had no idea Taiwan was famed for its tea! The panda tea is great – I’m trying to drink it sparingly so it lasts longer but it’s quite mild and milky tasting! You should have seen the look on my colleagues’ faces when they saw how green it looked! Proper Indian Chai is the best but I’d never have the patience to stand at the hob every morning to make it so I cheat with the chai tea bags which is not really the same but a good middle ground!

  18. Great post! I love tea, too. I also toured a tea factory in Sri Lanka once and it was really fun to learn how tea is made. I would love to try the homemade chai you mentioned!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 16, 2015 — 3:50 pm

      Julie, the Indian Chai made on the pan with the spices is just lovely – if you ever get offered a cup, don’t turn it down and you’ll be converted in no time :mrgreen: The tea factory visits are just fascinating aren’t they – I’d had no idea before that trip, just how many steps are involved on manufacturing tea and especially just how hard the tea pickers work. Thanks so much for reading!

  19. Oh I love this Shikha! And I also love tea but, boohoohoo, it makes me cry that I can’t drink it because it gives me stupid headaches! My decaf tea is just as good though and it cures any hangover, any ill-health and for some reason that no one in the UK understands it is just a comfort drink. I loved the chai in India though and Alex did too even though he doesn’t like tea here. Shame chai just isn’t the same here!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 23, 2015 — 3:35 pm

      Oh the chai there is just SO good! Tastes so unlike the ones I’ve had anywhere else and a lot of thought and attention goes into preparing it so I’m glad you enjoyed it too! There are so many fabulous teas around these days including lots of non-caffeinated white teas and fruit teas that you should hopefully still be able to enjoy without getting a headache! That’s what I love about tea – such a versatile drink! :mrgreen:

      1. I think it’s time for a cup of tea now. And cake. Can’t have tea without cake 😊

  20. You’ve totally hit the nail on the head here Shikha – tea is the best! It’s definitely a comfort thing too, I always take it with me when I go travelling and it’s a great way to meet people if you’re staying somewhere social!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 23, 2015 — 9:46 pm

      I agree Emily – it’s SUCH a comfort thing and there are definitely worse ways to deal with a crisis than a nice cup of tea ☺

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