As I sit here with great hope and a fragrant cup of Celestial Seasonings "Honey Vanilla Chamomile," plucked from a pretty yellow box with charming bears and sweet quotes abound, I take my first warming sip and feel compelled to pen the following words:
HERBAL TEA SUCKS.
Yep. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Herbal tea fucking blows. Here's a list. A fucking hateful list, broken down at times by flavor.
I'm not much of a tea-drinker to begin with (excepting in certain restaurants when culturally appropriate/interesting, or when ill). And when I try, to foray into the world of the fruity and herby and spicy and smelly and soothy and foul leafy crap-water-tinting foul (did I say that?) excuse for beverages...Ok, deep breath. I will explain, neatly below.
There are limited exceptions, and I will grudgingly admit them at the end. Not even grudgingly, because I can make a case that they're not smug smelly wet-dog chewed-gum herbal....Ok, let's get organized, here.
1. Herbal Tea Often Smells Better than it Tastes (The above-mentioned blend, Harvest Spice, and many promising sounding treats.)
Celestial Seasonings (hereinafter "CS") is the prime culprit here. You want to love these. They promise a wealth of warm, tasty flavors. You read the charmingly wordy box while waiting for the water to boil, dip the super-organic string-free bag (slightly irritating to the burned fingers and a little annoying to retrieve without dripping tea), retrieve (see above) and breathe in the herbs, sweet and reminiscent of Something Else. Generally, you are on a diet and would rather eat Something Else.
Go and eat Something Else. Even if it's a goddamn cranberry muffin.
Because the smell gets progressively more noxious and the taste is of hot water with a cranberry-muffin wrapper wadded up in the bottom.
2. Weird Fruit Flavors. Why?
I once bought some Apple Spice tea. I like Apples. I like Spice.
I do not like them dipped in water. Not even the smell was remotely pleasant.
The box stunk up my cabinet to the point where I had to roach-scrub it (if you've never experienced this, bug-bomb your apartment in the winter and watch the fallout) to remove the sickly fruity odor of Glade Air Freshener lit on fire.
Similarly, any citrus-type tea that I've experienced makes me want to wipe down wood furniture.
3. Mint Tea. Fuck you.
Perhaps if I travel to Morocco, I'll have a proper cup. Maybe it's better there, the way you eat improbable foods while traveling or drunk.
Every time I've had mint tea, it's tasted like diluted chewing gum. And I don't even like chewing gum.
4. By the way, Green Tea is not Herbal Tea.
I love how people are smug about ordering Herbal Tea because it's not coffee. "I'm healthy, I'm pure, I don't do caffeine, I'm a damn hippie." Well, screw you for going to Starbucks and paying $2.00 for a cup of hot water with a sock full of dead leaves in it. (Yeah, I know, I'm a hypocrite because coffee is a bunch of ground beans filtered through a sock. Whatever, I'm on a roll.)
You can, however be smug about green tea. It's good for you. It does, however, have caffeine, and it is NOT herbal tea.
5. "Medicinal" teas.
Often found at health food stores. They are expensive, nasty tasting, and often make you crap. 'Nuff said.
There are a couple of "herbal teas" that I will grudgingly admit to enjoying, from time to time.
When I worked up in the Bronx, I was given a blend (1 bag each in a single cup) of chamomile and something called 'tilo' in Spanish after a terribly stressful day. (Badia brand, found in the Key Food). It was astoundingly calming, and ridiculously inexpensive to boot.
I also enjoy ginger tea, but I maintain this isn't truly herb tea. Ginger is fucking magical. It soothes your stomach, gives you a healthy glow, clears your system, and helped me quit smoking.
I promise that I will be eternally smug and superstitious about ginger, just like you damn hippies and your herbal teas.