I’m convinced that there’s tea for every kind of life event. If I have somebody over who I really like, maybe a new love interest, I brew holy basil tea in my grandfather’s navy blue teapot. When my family is here, Darjeeling black tea, as concentrated as possible, with honey on the side. For friends, I alternate herbal blends, always poured in carefully chosen ceramics from Sen Earthenware. I’ve known the designer, Asia Sosnowski, since we studied abroad together in India, and collaborated to make tea cups. Just as there’s tea for all occasions, I think there’s a perfect cup for each friend. For somebody high strung, I pick one with a smaller opening, forcing an exercise in patience as the water takes longer to cool with a calming tea like chamomile. If I know that we’ll be hanging out for hours, I use a tiny cup that can be refilled with something like Genmaicha, a crowd pleaser and a pick-me-up.
I’m a naturopathic doctor with a tea line, Masha Tea, and I’ve thrown “don’t get high on your own supply” out the window this quarantine. With few new lovers to entertain and a lack of interest in having really anybody in my apartment, my tea habit has gone from being a social ritual into my best bet for structuring languorous, solo summer days.
Lately, I spent slow mornings drinking herbal cold brew on my fire escape, a New York novelty that never ceases to bring me joy. I climb outside with the tea, which has steeped overnight and sit cross legged, looking down at the community garden next door.
My naturopathic practice involves appointments with patients on issues ranging from acne to irregular periods, infertility to high anxiety. These, along with any calls pertaining to my tea line, tend to run back to back, and by the time they’re done midday, I’m ready for an afternoon matcha. The process of making matcha is one of inherent thoughtfulness because it’s prepared in a stepwise fashion. You can’t check your phone while whisking, and it’s mesmerizing to watch bright green tea mix slowly into creamy oat milk.
After the afternoon matcha, I try to answer emails and then get into my art and writing projects. Lately, a combination of journaling, poems, drawing portraits, embroidering backgammon sets, and block printing. These days, I’m rising and falling with the sun. When it starts getting dark, I check out of my work and then it’s time for my last and final cup of tea—and the end of another day.
Of course, there are recipes.
MORNING COLD BREW
This is the easiest one to make—and the best part is that you will have already made it overnight! Brewing herbs with cold water brings out different properties than hot water. Green teas, for example, are typically less tannic and bitter when cold-brewed. I made the Masha Love Tea because organic roses, organic anise hyssop grown in Vermont, and eastern red cedar, wild-harvested by Allora Flowers look really pretty floating around a glass jar.
To make, put the herbs in a jar and cover with room temperature or cold water. Let sit for at least 6 hours in the fridge. You can shake the jar every few hours to move the herbs around (and to enjoy the snow globe effect.) After that time, strain it into a cup over a kitchen strainer. And voila – no ice involved, and very minimal effort. This is great to prepare before bed and let sit in the fridge overnight to strain in the morning.
MIDDAY ICED OAT MATCHA LATTE
A realization that I just had is that my favorite thing to do on my block this quarantine has been to go to the bodega in search of American Party Ice for my daily iced oat milk matcha lattes. And another realization that I just had is that my idea of being adventurous these days is having two of these babies in a row. Wild! The caffeine content of matcha, while high, tends to create a more balanced energy than the sometimes frenetic feel of afternoon coffee.
Ice – enough to fill your cup (Please don’t let my dedication to bodega ice deter you from the more sustainable option of an ice tray)
3 scoops (1 teaspoon) of matcha powder
A cup of oat milk from the fridge (any kind of milk will do!)
Fill a cup with ice and then fill 3/4 up with oat milk. In a separate cup, if you have a matcha whisk, chawan (tea bowl), and tea scoop, sift three scoops (1 teaspoon) of matcha into a bowl, pour enough hot water to cover, and then whisk the matcha for 30 seconds. If you don’t have a whisk, use a Mason jar and put a teaspoon of matcha in with hot water to cover and shake! Pour the matcha mixture over the ice and oat milk. You can top off with oat milk.
I recommend refrigerating high quality matcha to preserve freshness and color. If you’re not sure about the quality of the matcha that you’re using, take a bit and spread it on white paper. What’s the color like? The consistency? Ideally, the matcha that you’re buying is bright green and smooth. Organic certification is not always as important with matcha as small family farms in Japan who are practicing organic agriculture may not have the finances or desire to obtain certification. As with any tea or agricultural product, you can always chat with the supplier about sourcing practices.
EVENING TEA OVER ICE
If you do not want but NEED iced tea in a pinch—and you have ice—this is your move. This is my third and final tea of the day. The one that says, “I’m tired but still hot.” I made the Masha Calm Tea today, a blend of chamomile, lemon balm, and chrysanthemum, herbs that are classified as “nervines,” meaning they act to tonify the nervous system. If you have chamomile lying around, that’s always a great go-to. Maybe you have fresh ginger in your spice cabinet? This can also be cut up and used.
Regardless of how productive, free-flowing or lazy my day was, I consider that evening cup of tea my final exhale and prefer herbs that smell lovely and are relaxing. Whereas with hot tea in the winter months, I normally use a heaping teaspoon of tea per cup of water, I use double the amount for iced tea, knowing that it will be diluted with ice.
Two teaspoons of tea
Boiled water – 1 cup
Make a concentrate of two teaspoons of tea per cup of hot water. Let this sit for about 7 minutes for herbal or black tea or 3-5 minutes for green tea. Fill a cup with ice. Strain your mixture over the ice.