Tea Time: New Flavors and Aromas for Your Cup

 In Food, Guide

Remember a few months ago when we were all happily cozying up with warm drinks in those first chilly days of fall? When every hot beverage tasted delicious?

And then winter hit for real, with day after day of gray skies—and nasty viruses lurking on every door handle. Drinking something warm might have started to feel like a prescription rather than a treat.

Here’s a list to change that. These seven ideas for adventurous tea drinkers won’t end winter or cure your cold, but they will surround you with new flavors and aromas (once your stuffy nose clears up from those viruses, that is).

Not a tea-lover? We hope we can convert you. But if you’re skeptical, read on, because we have bonus suggestions for you too.

1. Tea from avocado leaves
The St. Louis-based Avocado Leaf Tea company released its line of herbal teas in June 2019—and if you didn’t get around to trying them then, now’s the perfect time. In addition to the natural flavor, made of only avocado leaves, try one of the blends with peach, lemon, chamomile or black tea. They’re available online and on the shelves at Straub’s locations across the metro area.

2. Turmeric tonic
This beautiful golden tea has no caffeine; its invigorating qualities come from ginger, turmeric, citrus and black pepper. The Blueprint Coffee location inside the High Low literary center in Midtown is our favorite spot to find it.

 3. Fruit-flavored white tea
Selecting a flavor can be tough at Teatopia, a three-year-old gem on Cherokee Street that offers more than 80 varieties of loose-leaf teas. The owner, Reginald “Reo” Quarles, is happy to share his knowledge—but be forewarned, the more you know, the more types you’ll want to try. A case in point: One glass of the white cherry tea had us hooked, and we couldn’t wait to try other fruit flavors like melon berry, tangerine and pomegranate.

4. Hibiscus-tulsi-lemongrass tea
Local company Big Heart Tea recently added a new flavor called Blushing that gets its beautiful pink color from hibiscus leaves and its citrusy flavor from lemongrass and tulsi. As a bonus, it’s rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. Blushing—along with the rest of the Big Heart line—is sold online and stocked at many local vendors.

5. Cream teas and creamy chai
Traveling Tea offers online sales via its website, so you could order from home. But the cream teas and creamy chai are worth the trip to its Maplewood shop. The luxurious cream teas are steeped in dairy-free coconut milk or oat creamer/oat milk; the chai starts with sweetened condensed milk and a custom chai spice blend, which forms the base for traditional black, Indian green, rooibos or chocolate tea—or you can opt for a “superchai” with extra-spicy Masala, Mayan or Mandarin tea.

Tea Time: New Flavors and Aromas for Your Cup

Image courtesy of Rudy and Peter Skitterians.

6. Spring in a cup
Channel spring straight into your home with a little help from Garden District STL, a garden-themed home décor boutique on South Grand. It stocks teas from Illinois’ Octavia Tea, including Emerald Spring—a pure green tea (also called Mao Jian) that’s one of the most famous teas in China. The shop can also hook you up with teapots, tea sets, a sofa, a pillow, a lamp—whatever you need to feel cozy while waiting for spring to arrive.

7. Teas with fruit purees
The Foundry Bakery in Maryland Heights is a destination for its breads and pastries, but it also offers a unique beverage option: pure tea with fruit puree and chunks of fresh fruits like yuzu, strawberries and pineapple. One of the shop’s specialties is a latte of organic matcha, hand-whisked with strawberry puree and a house-made milk blend.

We know steeped beverages aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if the above list didn’t convert you, here are four creative options for warm drinks based on the classic flavors of milk, chocolate, coffee and apple cider.

Strawberry Cream Steamer
Soulard’s new book-themed Protagonist Café offers plenty of spaces for rediscovering the joy of curling up with a warm drink, like maybe the Strawberry Cream Steamer, which the menu describes as “a delightful strawberry shortcake in a cup.”

Hot Cocoa Froyo Float
It might not do much to fight the cold, but the Hot Cocoa Froyo Float at Bella’s Frozen Yogurt on Washington Avenue Downtown will definitely put a smile on your face, especially if you top it with a few sprinkles and marshmallows.

Bourbon-Molasses Cappuccino
The signature drinks at Coma Coffee Roasters in Richmond Heights include a couple of special cappuccinos and lattes, but right now we’re all about this rich variation. Molasses isn’t used as a beverage sweetener very often, but its sweet, thick, goodness pairs perfectly with the bite of the bourbon.

Warm Bourbon Apple Cider
Prasino in St. Charles has a top-notch seasonal cocktail program that always includes at least one hot drink in winter. This year’s version doesn’t disappoint with its combination of house-made apple cider, bourbon and caramel, topped with a dollop of bourbon whipped cream.

Featured image courtesy of Lisa Cichon.

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