Tea Freedom

You know I have this! Photo: thinkgeek.com

You know I have this! Photo: thinkgeek.com

Hey, I forgot to report that in July, I reached Tea Freedom! I had a whole cupboard full of tea bags, most of which I received in gift sets. In January, I vowed to use them all up. By May, I had run out of every kind of black tea. I spent July using up the green and herbal teas. One day I found two tea bags of ordinary black tea that I had brought to work and left in my desk drawer. I was overjoyed!

If you read my last tea post, you know I’m not a big fan of either green tea or fruit tisanes. I do like mint or lemon, but only as an occasional change from black tea. It was a LONG two months without what I consider “real tea”!

I had enough tea bags to use one every day from January to July, so more than 200, and that was after giving away half a dozen packages!

So now it’s my task to start over with loose leaf tea, and not go on a spending spree. I had three in the house – Golden Monkey (delicate), Orange Chocolate Spice (saved for a special treat) – both gifts from Link – and a Chai spice mix that you can add to any tea. It’s very good – has green cardamom pods in it.

I could hardly wait to visit a tea shop and make more selections of black tea. I bought small amounts of three kinds – a plain, good quality Kenyan one, a raspberry flavoured one, and a cinnamon-clove one. They are all organic fair trade, but not super-premium. My taste buds woke up when I tried the Kenyan – it is so flavourful and robust compared to good old Tetley! And the other two are lovely in the evenings by themselves.

I didn’t know until now that tea bags are usually made with the “fannings” and dust, or crushed bits left over from tea processing. But then, last year I found out that cheap ground coffee usually contains twigs and floor sweepings!

I hope I can hold off buying more, but I’m quite keen! I don’t know much about tea quality and I’m a little afraid of being a sucker and overpaying for things I think are rare or best quality, when they aren’t.

Anyone out there have tea suggestions or advice?

On a related note, have you ever had a stockpile of food you’ve worked hard to finish? It happened to me once with…sausages 🙂



  1. YAY! This is something that would delight me no end!

    Speaking of floor sweepings – I just filled my little tin of tea at work, cause getting it out of the plastic bag was annoying me. Anyhow, as I went to do something, i knocked the newly filled tin over, and some spilled onto the floor! GROAN. Anyhow… this is loose leaf tea that I’m persevering with!!

    Otherwise, I’ve been known to ‘gift’ surplus in my cupboard to a keen tea drinker! Otherwise, I have a big box of Twinings Earl Grey, and a cheap peppermint (floor sweepings be damned!) I do want to order some Australian brand apple tea, but i think I might challenge myself to use up the odds and sods I have so far lingering.

    • Yes, I was goofily happy to finish them off! And I’m sure I will continue to drink some inexpensive tea, especially flavours I haven’t bought loose before, so have no point of comparison! But now you’ve got me thinking – I had “tea” made from cut ginger this year, so why not real mint leaves….

      PS – it is 10 pm Sunday here at the moment…

  2. Right now Luke and I are trying to work through our canned food, we don’t normally. Eat canned food and normally have so,e in stock just in case, but we are going to eat it all and make room in the cupboards! I am grossed out by the tea information – I had no idea that is what was in my tea! I love tea. I want to find a nice recipe for chai spic mix if you ever happen upon one?

    • I always have a few cans in the cupboard (maybe about 15-20 at a time) and I would have a hard time making myself use them all up in a short time. I don’t think there is anything gross in tea – other than pesticides – it’s just not as good quality as we think we’re getting! I bought the chai spice mix I have, but it looks like there are a lot of recipes online under Chai Spice Blend Recipe etc.!

  3. I don’t keep kosher for Passover, and I don’t do a complete cleaning of all of the cupboards, but each year I try to use up all of my flour, wheat cereal, pasta, crackers, etc. before first night seder. Because I’ve been on WW, I measure my pasta rather than just throwing the leftovers in. It is amusing how many odds and ends of pasta I end up with in a year (each bag/box with about 2-3 oz. left of a unique shape). I’ll end up making some pre holiday form of a baked macaroni and cheese dish.

    • I didn’t know about that tradition, but I like the idea! Do you have any suggestions for leftover lasagna noodles – I always have 1 or 2 left over 🙂

      • I have a weird suggestion 🙂 In college, we would cook the noodles and roll them up with a slice a cheese, then dip in the leftover tomato sauce and eat. It made for a fun snack 🙂

        And I don’t drink tea, so I don’t have much to say on the topic at hand. It would be a struggle for me to drink one cup, let alone all the ones you had to reach tea freedom. I’m happy you can drink tea you really enjoy the flavor of now!

      • I didn’t think of using the noddles like a wrap. Great idea! Yes, it is great having tea I actually like now. If I receive any as gifts that I don’t love, I think I will pass them on, still unopened!

  4. I have a stockpile of teabags as well that I HAVE to finish so that I can start exploring the world of tea leaves.

  5. Are you serious?? Twigs and Floor sweepings?
    The twigs I can just about handle! But the sweepings? Eeesh!
    I do love me some tea though, I love the cheap ole English tea PG Tips, I just love the taste of it.
    I get tea a lot as gifts as well, I get giddy when I receive tea!
    Have a great week,

    • I suppose it is the same as meat products – they get to use some filler and there is an allowance for impurities such as bug parts and rat droppings (seriously!!)

      I am mainly a coffee drinker but have one cuppa tea every day. Bet I will continue getting tea for gifts as well!

  6. Well done! I would have thrown out the ones I don’t like – if I couldn’t find someone who would take them. As it is I have some flavoured tea bags as Mr S got a Twinnings box set, but even though he won’t drink them, he won’t let me dispose of them.

    I mostly use tea bags but am fussy about the quality. So I only use Nerada – Australian grown and full bodied. Loose leaf I only drink black, preferring Assam Joonktollee. It’s full -bodied and has a beautiful depth of flavour. I only drink black tea, and with quite a bit of milk, but Assam based teas are my favourite. That said, some Sri Lanka colleagues gave me some Ceylon loose leaf which they got from a Sri Lankan grocery. They said it was cheap but it was so good. Would love to get more but they’ve moved on.

    • I gave some unopened boxes to the food bank, and struggled through the rest. Not sure I would do it again, though. I can’t quite imagine living in a tea growing country! I just read about the Joonktollee tea – looks like I could order some from Sweden if I were so inclined 🙂

  7. Congratulations 🙂 I’m only a very occasional tea drinker so also have a huge surplus of tea in the cupboard. I like the idea of drinking it down to achieve “tea freedom” 🙂 I’ve heard the same thing about tea bags and am trying to move to tea leaves as well.

    In fact, I’m trying to do this with all of my food at the moment. You might remember, I’m a bit of a food hoarder! Well at the moment I’m unemployed and living on my savings, so any way of cutting spending is helpful, so I’m trying to eat up all of the “weird” foods in my pantry and freezer. I will be buying fruit, veggies and meat, but will be making a conscious effort not to buy much else.

    • Hi Liz, I have one type of food it would be really hard to use up, and that is condiments. Not sure if I am up for that challenge – I would have to have lentils with mustard caper sauce or something like that 🙂

  8. Coffee addict here although I do like Green tea. I like the Aldi french blend coffee over here and I prefer it to the over priced, tax avoiding Starbucks version.

  9. mes1947

    Cream Earl Grey from David’s is lovely.

  10. Gam Kau

    I just ordered some loose leaf teas from Amazon after tiring of tea bags. I was being frugal by using tea bags, but decided good tea adds to quality of life for me. 🙂
    I just buy what I like and whatever is within my price range. It’s fun to try new teas.

  11. I love tea as well, but one piece of advice is to be wary of the premium prices. Some folks are more proud of their tea than they should be creating a snobbery akin to wine fanatics. The best advice for wine shoppers applies here – don’t buy from the top shelf as the more visible the wine or tea, the more it costs.

    • In my reading, I came across a list of tea quality terms. One of them was FTGFOP – Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. Also known as Far Too Good For Ordinary People. I must be careful not to become a Tea Snob!

  12. Lisa

    I love my loose-leaf tea to the tune of 3 cups a day. I don’t drink coffee even though I live with a coffee snob who roasts his own coffee! I don’t think I am a tea snob, especially after I tried to read some reviews on tea and couldn’t understand half of what they were saying. I just go with what I like, and I have a very narrow range of teas I will drink (my palate would not be considered refined). I do not like anything fruity. I can drink the occasional mint or green jasmine tea, but mostly I am a black tea drinker (Assam, English Breakfast, etc.) with sugar only. Although, a friend just brought me an organic vanilla ceylon tea that I am surprised to be enjoying. I have also recently tried a 2nd flush Darjeeling tea and liked it.

    I haven’t been impressed with those chain tea stores in the malls for their prices or quality. I think, in some cases, they have teas that are marked up higher than they should be priced. I buy from a local tea store in town or order from the Granville Island Tea Company in BC.

    Enjoy your freedom! I’m impressed that you persevered, I could not have done that!

    • I don’t see myself doing a lot of research and becoming an aficionado, but I do want to avoid being ripped off. I’m hoping I will get through my current loose teas 100% before buying more, however, I have two big city trips coming up in the Fall!

  13. One of the best places to find new tea is in Chinatown where some stores sell bulk teas for every occasion. Teas for summer, teas for winter, teas to calm you or to pep you up, teas for every conceivable medical condition and unique teas which are very hard to find can all be found in Chinatown!

  14. Fiona

    I am amazed at your will-power in going without your ‘favourites’ for the whole of July! I can just imagine the delight in finding those extra two tea-bags at work. I’m a coffee drinker so although I can’t comment on tea choices, I do know I would struggle to go one day without my favourite coffee – in my favourite mug – let alone a whole month!

  15. I’m still working on my tea stockpile (http://theasianpear.blogspot.ca/2013/02/the-tea-collection.html). It actually GREW a bit before it shrunk back down again. I’ve happily finished THREE teas in the last two weeks and am now working on four more loose leaf teas. p’-‘q

  16. As children, we had to eat a stockpile of Lasagna for a week, when mum forgot to take the huge dish she had made to take to a family Christmas lunch. I’m really glad after reading your post, that I grind my own coffee beans, floor sweepings, I had no idea! I like to drink organic green tea which I see is not your favourite. I also like chamomile at bedtime.

    • I don’t mind eating lasagna for days on end – I was thinking of the dry, plain noodles in the box that are leftover after making a recipe! I only make lasagna once or twice a year, and always seem to have a couple of sheets left. I grind coffee beans, too. It remains to be seen whether I’ll develop a craving for green tea now that I have none in the house!

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