In an effort to lower my baseline anxiety level, I recently cut back to one cup of coffee per day, replacing it with tea (because decaf coffee is terrible). I’ve always been a fan of tea, but my tea consumption has increased exponentially since removing my second (and sometimes third) hot bean water.
If you’ve ever wanted to get into tea, there’s no better time to start than the beginning of the year, when resolutions to reduce alcohol consumption and be generally healthier are still fresh in our minds. I like to think I’ve become a low-level tea snob, giving me the authority to recommend a few products that will make your tea-drinking more enjoyable.
I was a stovetop kettle purist until my junior year of college, when I moved into an apartment with two girls who had studied abroad in London. Upon moving in, I learned that this house was an electric kettle house and that my charming whistling kettle would be relegated to the highest kitchen cupboard. According to my new roommates, every home in England has an electric kettle, which are simply better than their stovetop counterparts — they boil water faster, are easy to use and simply shut off when they’re done, so there’s no frantic running to turn off the stove once the kettle whistles.
For casual tea drinkers, this kettle is a great under-$20 option. If you’re more persnickety about your tea and know that different leaves require different temperatures, consider investing in a variable temperature kettle, which allows you to adjust to your ideal temperature. Electric kettle pro-tip: be sure to empty the kettle and leave the cover open to air-dry between uses, which will prevent mold and rust.
As I’ve gotten more mature, my tea collection has expanded from boxed tea to interesting loose-leaf tea blends (my current favorite is a sleep tea called “Sweet Oblivion,” best used to counter the sobering effects of the news cycle). At home, I use this metal strainer to steep my loose teas. It features little handles that rest comfortably on the rim of mugs, both large and small, and a metal top to keep the tea warm. When I’m taking tea to go, I use compostable Tea-Sac tea filter bags, which are made from unbleached paper. They’re easy to fill and large enough to tie or let the edge hang over the side of a travel mug.
My favorite travel mug is this one from Contigo, which is insulated and can keep beverages hot for up to seven hours. I’ve tried several brands and styles, but this model is the best for on-the-go hot beverage drinking. Its locking vacuum seal actually works, so I can toss it in my bag without worrying about my things getting soaking wet. For loose leaf tea drinkers, you can opt for the tea infuser version.