Warning: The article below is over five years old. It may be badly written, poorly considered, immature, obsolete, no longer my opinion, or simply flat-out wrong.

Camomile tea

I have never liked your standard tea. I don't even know what it should be called; I am not a tea aficionado. My mother drinks it a lot - as a middle-aged British housewife she drank it a lot as I was growing up. I found it a very bland drink and that offended me.

When I was around 14 I discovered the wonders of coffee. That was an adult, a metropolitan drink! The caffeine hit and the social cachet appealed to my adolescent mind and with typical pretentiousness I would bring a flask of it to school with me. These days I no longer drink it.

No, these days I like my tea. Not your PG tips and your Tetley's - these are still a bore. Consider it my own rebellion against the British side of myself. I like the herbal teas and the fruit teas. My word, they're wonderful. This summer I went travelling around Australia and ended up staying for two weeks with a young lady and her father. They got fresh camomile and brewed it up in a clear teapot, straining the flowers out when a cup is poured. I loved it. There's no teabag that comes close to it that I have found. Fortunately, mediocre camomile is still pretty good.

There are other teas I like. My love affair with fruit teas goes back a couple of years to when I was heavily involved with the student union. The University catering service would leave their individually wrapped fruit teabags lying around in meeting rooms after their meetings and I would have meetings afterwards. Well there was no point letting it go to waste, was there? A broad range of fruit teas were there for the taking. The other day I happened across a similar abandoned meeting refreshments table, and my box of fruit tea is now nicely augmented. I particularly recommend anything with a citrus fruit, though they're all good.

A new favourite of mine is jasmine tea. I had a cup of this in a pub recently (I know, I know. What kind of prat drinks tea in a pub? Pleased to meet you) and it was amazing. I went to my local Chinese grocery store and bought a cheap box. It's not up to the standard of the pub stuff, so more experimentation is needed and possible cross-examination of barmaids. Its deficiencies in taste are made up for somewhat through the aesthetic of this particular brand - that peculiar exoticism of something predominantly foreign. What's on the packet in English is translated with typical Chinese aplomb. It's declared as a product of the Fujian Tea Import & Export Co., Ltd. and each individual bag describes itself as Aromatic Flavour Clear Infusion Homely Refresher Ideal Gift.

At present I am not buying any new tea. I have boxes and boxes of the stuff - well over a hundred teabags in my cupboard right now. I'm moving out in a little under a month, and am trying to get through at least 3 cups a day (I am failing) as it feels faintly ridiculous to move teabags with me. My cache was not helped thanks to an overly-helpful supermarket. I had ordered 40 organic camomile teabags, as they had a far better taste than the non-organic kind. Of course they were out of stock and I got 40 non-organic ones. So now I've got at least 2 months of mediocre camomile to drink before I can get back to the nice stuff. Drat.

Originally published on Kuro5hin.