In First Person: Love Tea, and Tea Will Love You Back

in first person

In First Person is a monthly meme here on Books and Hot Tea. Every first of the month I talk about a certain lifestyle topic I’m passionate about. Feel free to leave comments and chat with me!


Yes, I know today is the 2nd of March, so this is the first time I’m doing this meme and I’ve already failed. XD Anyway, for my first In First Person post I decided to talk about – big surprise! – tea. It is very fitting, considering the title of my blog. 😉 I’ve talked about tea before, but I’ve learned more since. And I’ve tried more teas. Now, let’s end this too long introduction, and start with the topic.

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Tea bags. Pixabay.com

I’ve been a tea drinker for years. I haven’t started drinking tea because of its health benefits, though in my family tea was mostly reserved for the times you were sick. I simply loved the taste and the smell. It made me warm when I was cold and it made me feel cosy when I was tired. People are mostly coffee drinkers here in Croatia, but I never liked the taste of coffee. So, no, I never drink coffee. I also don’t drink my tea with milkmi. Until lately, tea with milk was even considered strange in Croatia. xD I usually drink mine with just some lemon since I don’t like honey in tea (this is something people find strange).

When I say the word “tea” I mostly think of tea made from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). Those are white, green, yellow, oolong and black teas. Other herbal teas are made from different plants and these include Rooibos, Mint, Chamomille, Nettle, Sage and many others. There are also different fruit teas, which I jokingly call “hot juice”. (It sounds less disturbing in Croatian…) The tea plant teas are the ones I will talk about in this post.

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Types of tea. Picture from Oolong Tea Community.

Black Tea

Black tea is probably the most popular type of tea. It’s the most oxidized kind, and it’s completely fermented. That makes it the strongest in flavour and darkest in colour. It contains most caffeine, but caffeine level can vary quite a lot in different kinds of black tea since it depends on the part of the plant used and the brewing technique. The caffeine levels in tea can boost your blood pressure, but the effect doesn’t last long, and can help those with low blood pressure when they suffer for dizziness. The antioxidants in black tea are proven to strengthen your immunity, improve metabolism, and lower the risk of a stroke and heart attack since they help you fight high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

When it comes to taste, black tea is usually too bitter for me (especially since I don’t drink tea with milk), but I adore Earl Grey tea – a tea blend which is flavoured with the oil of bergamot. The flavour and smell of bergamot is lovely! And it really makes the tea taste less bitter. Nowadays, there are also green tea variations of Earl Grey, and though not traditional, they’re very good, too.

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Black tea. Pixabay.com

Another kind of fermented tea is Pu-Erh tea. Pu-erh traditionally begins as a raw product known as “rough” and can be sold in this form or pressed into a number of shapes and sold as “raw”. Both of these forms then undergo the complex process of gradual fermentation and maturation with time. This is the type of tea I haven’t tasted before except blended with another kind of tea, so if you have, I’d like to hear what you thought of it!

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is the next type of tea when it comes to the level of fermentation. It’s higher in the level of antioxidants than black tea. The general rule is – the less the tea is fermented, the more antioxidants you get from it. Oolong has all the health benefits of black tea, but it’s even more powerful. To learn more about this typoe of tea, you can visit Oolong Tea Community.

Oolong tea is said to be most varied kind of tea when it comes to taste, so I’ll leave it to you to try it. 😉 I only tasted it once, to be honest, because it’s not very popular where I live, so suggestions would be appreciated.

Green Tea

Green tea is less oxidized than black tea and it belongs to the group of teas that are not fermented. This means that green tea contains more antioxidants than black tea, so you get even more health benefits from it. Green tea helps with prevention of some types of cancer, Parkinson’s and even Alzheimer’s disease. It boosts your metabolism and lowers your cholesterol level more than black and oolong tea. It’s also frequently used in cosmetic products. Because of the antioxidants it contains, it’s a good anti-inflammatory agent, it rejuvenates the skin, and has a sun protective effect. The non-fermented teas are generally great for skin health. And for your liver, too.

Green tea tastes a little grassier than black and oolong tea, which is something not everyone’s a fan of. Since I always drink my tea with lemon, I don’t have a problem with grassines. The lemon really helps tone it down, so I suggest you try it as well.

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Fruit tea, black tea, green tea. Pixabay.com

Matcha tea is a kind of green tea that is finely ground in a green powder. The green tea used to make matcha is shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest, and the stems and veins are removed in processing. It contains more caffeine than green tea. The match powder is used to make green tea ice-cream and other green tea foods.

Sencha is also a type of green tea, from Japan.

Now, another type of tea I’d like to mention here is gunpowder tea. To make this type of tea, each leaf is rolled into a small round pellet – its English name comes from its resemblance to grains of gunpowder. This rolling method of shaping tea is most often applied either to dried green tea or oolong tea, but the rolling method maked its taste stronger, which differentiates it from other green and oolong teas. It can also have a “smoky” flavour, which is fitting when you consider its name. XD

Yellow Tea

Yellow tea is another non-fermented tea. It’s processed in the same way as green tea, but the drying process is longer – damp leaves are left to sit and gain yellow colour, which gives it a different taste and smell.  It’s made from the buds of the tea plant, before they turn to leaves. Yellow tea has the same amount of antioxidants as green tea, and similar health benefits. However, it’s taste is milder and much less grassy.

I love the taste of yellow tea! I remember how sad I was when my mother almost forbid me to drink it once. She said her friend drank a lot of yellow tea to lose weight, and it did help, but a little too much. She lost too much weight in a short time and had many health issues because of that. Yellow tea is often used for losing weight (and it helps with body fat and metabolism), but it can’t do that kind of damage to you. The woman from the story was probably on a strict diet. My mother also realized that, and now I can drink yellow tea again. 😉

White Tea

White tea goes through minimal oxidation during processing and is one of the non-fermented teas. Similarly to yellow tea, it is made from the buds and leaves of the tea plant, and the buds give it its white colouring. Its taste and smell are similar to that of green tea, but a little milder, and less grassy. It contains the most antioxidants, so it is the best “cleaner” of the liver and your entire body. It is great for the skin, helps fight tumors, and since it has the least caffein so it’s great for good night sleep, and can even help with headaches. White tea is my favourite! I love its mild taste.

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White tea. Pixabay.com

Now, if you want to experiment, there are so many different blends of teas out there. If you don’t like the taste of any of these teas, but like fruit teas, try a blend! I currently have a white tea and cranberry blend in my cupboard, and the cranberry really changes the taste. However, I prefer teas blended with flowers ond herbs. These change the taste less, but give a wonderful smell to your tea and make it more flavourful. My favourite is a tea called The Rose of Orient from a local tea shop, a blend of green and gunpowder tea with jasmine, marigold and rose. It smells and tastes wonderful! I suggest to try, explore, and enjoy the journey! 🙂

Now, there are many other herbal teas, so maybe next time I’ll talk about those. This post is already so long! Thanks for reading and happy blogging! 🙂

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And happy tea drinking as well! Pixabay.com

Top 5 Wednesday: Current Favourites that Aren’t Books

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If you want to join, Top 5 Wendesday guidelines and topics can be found on the Goodreads group hosted by Samantha.

Oh, I love this topic! As much as I like talking about books, it’s nice to talk about some other things I like for a change. And I’m looking forward to finding out what other Wednesdayers love! 🙂

Anyway, here are some things that I love at the moment:

1. Food: Homemade Almond Butter

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I discovered how to make homemade almond butter a few months ago, and I fell in love with it! It’s yummy and healthy, and you can make a lot of other things with it. I also started making my own granola bars.

2. Series: Black Sails

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Now, this isn’t something I’ve just recently discovered, but the first episode of the 4th and last season of this series premiered on 29th January so I think it’s the perfect time to talk about it. I love this series so much! It’s a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, but it’s much more than that.

3.  Film: Split

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I didn’t think I would love it, but this is the best film I’ve seen lately. And James McAvoy is amazing at playing all those personalities! The film did make me feel uneasy, though, and I even dreamt it. It was more of a nightmare than a dream actually. XD

4. Lifestyle: Yoga

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I’m still a complete beginner, but I’m really, really loving it! I’m not the kind of person who likes to exercise, but yoga makes me feel great. 🙂 (P.S. I’m definitely not as good as the girl on the photo.)

5. This gif:

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Thanks pixabay.com for the almonds and yoga photos! 🙂

Going to Ireland :)

So, just a little update from me. Tomorrow morning I’m going on a trip to Ireland! Yaaay! Anyway, this means I’ll be absent from my blog for eight days. I might still have some time to browse my Reader page, but not as much… I promise to bring you some pictures! 🙂

I’m leaving you with a couple of photos from my previous trip, to Scotland. Enjoy the loveliness:

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Colourful Edinburgh.
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Beautiful Edinburgh.
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Castle in the distance.
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Magical nature.

Birds, Pigeons and Italy

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I took this photo quite a few years ago, in Siena, Italy. Italy is a great country to visit, and it’s culturally very similar to the coastal Croatia where I live, especially when it comes to great food. 😉 Anyway, when I go on a trip, I like to capture some simple little moments like this one, besides taking pictures of all the “important stuff”. This photo of a pigeon drinking from the fountain feels so lively to me, it’s cute and a little funny. So, I wanted to share it with you. I’ll follow it with a little poem inspired by birds.

Wings flutter
Brave and free
Fragile feathers
Are strong in unity.

On New Books and Book Buying

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As the title says – I’ve bought some new books today. Buying books always makes me happy, so I felt inspired to write a random post about them. Since I read The Golem and the Djinni few days ago, I’ve only been reading a book for my Swedish classes. I study Swedish in a school for foreign languages and it’s my third year there so I’m quite proud that I’m able to read an entire book in Swedish. And this is our second one! 🙂

Anyway, I wanted to buy something to read so, without any high expectations, I went to a bookstore. The first book I got is The Uninvited by Liz Hensen. I actually noticed Anna Dressed in Blood by Kandale Blake first and was almost certain I would buy it, even though the paranormal romances aren’t really “my cup of tea”. I somehow thought it might be interesting, but I wasn’t sure. (If anyone’s read it, I would really like to know what you thought of it.) And then – this book stole my attention. On the cover, it’s compared to Kazuo Ishiguro, and I loved Never Let Me Go, so I decided to give it a go.

The Uninvited is supposed to be a “part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare”, creepy and thought-provoking. And I hope it will be, because covers sometimes lie.

“A seven-year-old girl puts a nail gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires.

An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong.”

As I said in one of my previous posts, I like a bit weird, even disturbing fiction, so you can see why I had to grab this book.

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The other book I bought is The Collected Illustrated Works of Hans Christian Andersen. I wanted something like this for a while, and I found this nice, inexpensive edition. I already have the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe from the same collection and I’ve seen several others, but this is the first time I’ve come across this one. I don’t actually like these but, chunky books because it’s quite hard to hold them and read, but sometimes they are a great solution, especially when it comes to short stories. The book also looks pretty, and it’s a great collection, I can’t even count all the fairy tales which can be found in it. The Illustrations are black and white, and a bit dark, but they somehow suit the tone of Andersen’s tales as they some of them are quite bleak. I’m just so happy to have this edition in my possession! 🙂

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This is basically how I buy books. First I try to find the books I’ve heard of and want to read. Sadly, where I live the choice of books is quite limited so I usually don’t find any of those. And only one bookstore has books in English, and I don’t like reading translations if I can read the original. So, if I really want to read something, I order it online. Therefore, I usually just look around, and if I have the time I do it for a very tong time. I admit, I completely lose sense of time when I browse through bookstores and that can sometimes be annoying to people who happen to be with me. But, what can I say, everyone has their own little obsessions. 😉 I wish I had more choice, because to me online orders are simply not the same as shopping at a bookstore. I don’t know why, but I like spending time there – alone, or with someone equally enthusiastic to discuss books and possible buys.

In the end, here are my two lovelies, from the same collection. I might add another one to my bookshelf, sometime in future.

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Tea – what is it good for?

I’ve been an avid tea drinker for years. I haven’t started drinking tea because of its health benefits, even though in my family tea was mostly reserved for the times you were sick. I just loved the taste and the feeling. It made me warm when I was cold, it made me feel cosy when I was tired, and it provided comfort when I was sad.

But tea really is good for your health, and that’s something I would like to talk about in this post. I’ll start with “real” teas, those made from the tea plant or tea tree – Camellia Sinesis. Those are black, oolong, green, yellow, and white tea. I want to explain the main differences between them, even though all of them have similar effects on your health. Then, I’ll mention some other types of teas, not all of them, of course, because there are so many it’s impossible to count.

Let’s start!

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Black Tea

Black tea is probably the most popular type of tea. It’s the most oxidized type of tea, and it’s completely fermented. That makes it the strongest in flavour and darkest in colour. It contains caffeine, but it is not true that black tea contains the most caffeine. All kinds of tea contain approximately the same level of caffeine, but it depends on the part of the plant used and the brewing technique.

When it comes to health benefits, black tea is proven to lower the risk of a stroke and heart attack. The antioxidants in black tea improve metabolism, lower the risk of high cholesterol and diabetes, and even help in prevention of some types of cancer (for example ovarian cancer). It may also lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Black tea can, however, boost your blood pressure, but the effect doesn’t last long, and can help those with low blood pressure when they suffer for dizziness.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is the next type of tea when it comes to the level of oxidation. It’s higher in the level of antioxidants than black tea.

I must admit I have never tasted oolong tea, as it’s not very popular in my country, and I don’t know as much about it. However, what I do know is that it is said that it combines the best qualities of black and green tea.

Green Tea

Green tea is less oxidized than black tea, which makes it’s flavour milder. This also means that green tea contains more antioxidants than black tea, so you get even more health benefits from it. Its taste is a little grassier than the taste of black and oolong tea.

Green tea helps with prevention of some types of cancer, Parkinson’s and even Alzheimer’s disease. It boosts your metabolism and lowers your cholesterol level. It’s also frequently used in cosmetic products. Because of the antioxidants it contains, it’s a good anti-inflammatory agent, it rejuvenates the skin, and has a sun protective effect.

Yellow Tea

Yellow tea is processed in the same way as green tea, but it’s drying process is longer – damp leaves are left to sit and gain yellow colour, which also gives it a different smell.  It’s made from the buds of the tea plant, before they turn to leaves.

Yellow tea has the same amount of antioxidants as green tea, and similar health benefits. However, it’s taste is milder and much less grassy, which is something most people don’t like about green tea.

I love the taste of yellow tea! I remember how sad I was when my mother forbade me to drink it once. She said her friend drank a lot of yellow tea to lose weight, and it did help, but a little too much. She lost too much weight in a short time and had many health issues because of that. However, even though yellow tea, as all other teas, helps with metabolism and digestion, which helps when you want to lose weight, it can’t do that kind of damage to you. The woman from the story was probably on a strict diet. My mother also realized that, and now I can drink yellow tea again. 🙂

White Tea

White tea goes through minimal oxidation during processing. Similarly to yellow tea, it is made from the buds and leaves of the tea plant, and the buds give it its white colouring. Its taste and smell are similar to that of green tea, but a little milder, and less grassy.

White tea is not as popular as the other kinds of teas, and it’s not researched as much. However, it contains the most antioxidants, so it is considered to have the most health benefits. I have also discovered it just recently, and it has become my favourite!

Other types of tea

Mint Tea

Mint tea is made from peppermint leaves. Personally, I’m not a fan of the taste of mint. For me, it’s something that goes in toothpastes and chewing gums and refreshes your breath. (Mint tea does that, too!) However, mint tea is very popular so it’s impossible not to be familiar with it.

Besides helping with dental hygiene, mint tea helps to soothe an upset stomach, vomiting or nausea, and it helps with digestion. It also helps with coughs, respiratory problems, and is beneficial for those suffering from asthma. It’s also a good idea to drink mint tea before going to bed if you suffer from sleep deprivation, as it relaxes you and helps you get some good night sleep. Because of its relaxing qualities, mint tea can also help those suffering from stress and/or anxiety.

Chamomile Tea

However, when it comes to sleep deprivation and stress, nothing is better than a cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile is a herb similar to daisy, and its healing powers were often used in traditional medicine.

Chamomile tea is high in antioxidants. Besides relaxation, chamomile tea helps with menstrual cramps, and can prevent some types of cancer. Chamomile is used in cosmetics as well, both for the skin and hair care.

Sage Tea

Sage tea is very popular in my country, and it was even more popular in the past. If you had a cold – you drank sage tea. (All teas can help with cold, though.)

Sage helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also an effective antioxidant. However, it should be avoided during pregnancy.

Nettle Tea

When you think of nettle, you imagine it burning you. However, nettle tea actually helps to rejuvenate skin and helps with skin infections. It’s used to relieve allergy symptoms, and it helps with respiratory issues and asthma. It supports the kidneys and helps break down kidney stones. It’s also a great source of minerals.

Cranberry Tea

Because it’s made from, obviously, a fruit, cranberry tea contains vitamins and minerals which can’t be found in other teas. This is the case with most fruit teas, which I’m not going to mention in this post.

This tea is most known as a medicine for urinary infections. However, it’s is advised not to drink it during pregnancy.

And here my list ends. In the end, I just want to add that all teas have one more purpose – they are great reading companions. 🙂

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A clumsy start…

So, here I am. Starting to write a blog and all…

So, first things first, I want to say what this blog is going to be about – and that is mostly books. I’m going to update on what I’m reading, and write reviews for books I find interesting. I will also post some of the short stories I have written, which I didn’t have the courage to to before. However, I might add an occasional “lifestyle” post, if that’s what you call it, about certain things I find interesting. For example tea. Tea is everything. 🙂

My name is Irena, and I’d be happy to listen to your comments and suggestions.

So, it begins here…