Lifesyle, Beauty, & Travel, for Social Butterflies Everywhere

Butterfly Diary - April 22,2008

I admit, I’ve always been a coffee kind of gal.

Mochas make my spine tingle and my hands tremble. A fine cappuccino will send me to the proverbial moon. But just recently, there are some teas that have sprouted up in the marketplace that have given me the same neurotic zest for life that my Dunkin Donuts cup gives me each morning.

We’ve heard how good it is for your health, your heart and your pocket book etc. etc. But tea is now top shelf and as ubiquitous as those $5.00 café mochas I’ve been secretly purchasing while telling my nutritionist I was sipping tea leaf brew.

Remember the semi–civilized days of Lipton teabags? Neither do I. Now, luxurious sachets of Fortnum & Mason and tasteful whole leaf teas are the new "everyday" fare.

A flurry of high–end teas that are like miniature works of art have been cropping up all over the place. When I held Teaposy’s silver needle white tea that comes in a tiny cocoon concealing real flowers, I was in awe. This ball of wonder unfurls when dropped in boiling water. The purchase is fit for the Dahesh Museum, but each one is handmade in China and costs a small fortune ($20 for four cocoons).

This is partially because the cocoons are handmade in China, a procedure that requires great skill and finesse.

Another company, Free Leaf (www.teance.com), offers a similar concept in packaging whole leaf tea into floral balls: the leaves are tied together in pretty bundles and you dip them in hot water. These are perfect for parties, gift bags and high–end weddings.

"Tea is the new "coffee": the high end varieties are being sold everywhere," says Karen Harbour of The–Teaspot.com. Where are the best teas to be found? The best oolongs come from Taiwan and the best black teas from India.

Making the Finest Cup

There are so many tricks to brewing a good pot of tea. The lighter teas (the whites and the greens) need little amount of heat, so don’t pour a gallon of boiling water on the tender leaves. You’ll burn them! The darker teas (the blacks and the oolongs) can get by with hotter water; they also can tolerate longer steeping time.

There are fine tools to make sure you brew the perfect pot, including the first temperature controlled kettle from www.the–teaspot.com that hits stores this fall; or Bodum’s fine "The De Chine" made especially for fine green tea and made of borosilicate glass. www.bodum.com

So stop flitting around, relax, and enjoy a perfect cup. There’s much more to life than reading the tea leaves: drinking them!