Generally speaking I’m a coffee kinda girl. I’ve never understood folks who go to the best coffee shop in town and then order tea. Really? Maybe you meant to say “Americano” when you said “green tea.”
But I’m the beverage editor around here so when there are beverages to be tried, I’m your girl. Typically I get energy shots and coconut waters and prebiotic waters to feed my belly flora, so tea was a little out of left field.
But naturally functional is the big thing right now—just look at the wild success of coconut water, or bevs like kombucha and kefir that are holding pretty strong in the market—and tea was the very first functional beverage.
My functional tea of choice
I’m an open-minded person, but I certainly had no plans of altering my morning coffee routine for plain old tea. I assumed it would be bitter or boring. It was just tea after all. No cream, no sugar. Not flavored, fruity tea or creamy, frothy chai. Just tea leaves. Dried, rolled up a little bit and packaged. Turns out, this isn’t your auntie’s Earl Grey. This is Shang Tea.
I haven’t had coffee in a week and I’m running out of tea. I’m going to have to find a place to buy this stuff ASAP. My samples came in little packets of a bunch of different varieties and I’ve been saving my favorites. So far I’m partial to the Red Teas—or black tea over here in the West, according to the Shang Tea website. The Tangerine Blossom Red Tea is the first I tried and it’s still my favorite. There’s no artificial flavor added, just real tangerine blossoms fermented with the tea leaves to bring out a hint of citrus.
Shang Tea isn’t widely distributed just yet, but I have high hopes. According to Zehua Shang they’ve been picked up by their local Whole Foods Market in Kansas City, Mo., and a few smaller retailers. Shang Tea is certified organic through an international certifier called the Institute for Marketecology (recognized in Europe as well as the U.S.), which specializes in certifying small-scale agricultural and manufacturing operations. (I’d never heard of it either.)
Check out their blog for tons of information about tea and great tips for brewing.