I was brought up in the culture that loves black tea. For Azerbaijani people, black tea is more than just a hot beverage. It is so deeply embedded in our culture that it became a tradition. This is the drink you’ll be greeted with at any Azerbaijani home in the world.
Azerbaijani people drink this beverage hot at any time of the day, any day of the year. It cools you down in hot summer hours and warms you up on severe winter days.
This drink is traditionally served in a pear-shaped glass called armudu derived from Azerbaijani word “armud” meaning “pear” (“armudu” means “pear-like“). It was designed centuries ago so that you can enjoy your tea in a good company of friends. While this shape makes it even more convenient to hold the glass, this is a drink made for long warm conversations: when the top part of the tea cools down and it is ready to drink, the lower part of the beverage remains hot. By the time you finish enjoying the upper half of the tea, the lower part is still in perfect drinkable temperature.
The black tea in armudu is served sweet when bride’s parents are giving blessings on their daughter’s marriage and this is the drink that is served on every occasion to celebrate life.
Even though the western influence (along with the master thesis deadlines and all that good post-graduate stuff) taught me the taste of coffee and turned me into a coffee addict, I still love freshly brewed tea.
Drinking tea infused from tea bags may be convenient but buying loose tea in bulk is always a better deal. And honestly, it tastes ten times better! To my surprise and delight, there is a huge selection of organic teas on Amazon.
My round-up also features some caffeine-free tea options for those who want to cut down on caffeine but not on a daily cup of coffee.
1 LB (453.6 g), $20.66
Whenever we are hosting people, this is the type of tea I’m serving to our guests. In Baku, Azerbaijan (the city where I’m originally from), my family knows the merchants that sell authentic Azerbaijani black tea harvested in May. That tea even has flowers inclusions that add floral notes to it. Here in the US, since I do not have access to that source anymore, I decided to try this organic, USDA-certified Chinese Breakfast tea from Numi.
The main and only ingredient of this tea is Verified Fair Labor organic Yunnan black tea. This loose, full leaves tea has sweet fruity notes to it which occur naturally in the making process. This tea doesn’t contain any artificial or even natural flavoring. Numi Chinese Breakfast tea has a higher rate of caffeine, but its aroma is just everything. This tea can perfectly replace a morning cup of tea if you want to add changes to your routine.
Chamomile tea is a caffeine-free alternative to black and green teas. This herbal tea helps to support calmness and relaxation, while also has antiseptic properties and is widely used in medicine.
4 oz, $9.45
Nature Restore Chamomile Whole Flowers is a USDA certified organic product and the botanicals go through lab test for heavy metals. The herbal tea comes in a resealable package, however, I transferred it to sealable Maison jar and keep it in my fridge – to extend the freshness of the tea.
1 serving is only 1 teaspoon of the dried whole flowers, and 4 Ounce bag makes around 200 servings!
Lavender is another herb that provides relaxation and helps with sleep.
4 oz, $9.95
This product also comes from the same brand and also in a 4 oz package. Same as Chamomile, these lavender flower buds are USDA certified and tested for heavy metals. This herb comes in a resealable package and can be used not only as tea and infusion but also in sachets as a natural deodorizer for your drawers and closets.
I love mixing it with Chamomile for a fully relaxing and soothing experience.
Here is my favorite recipe:
Mix 1 teaspoon of Chamomile and 1 teaspoon of Lavender flowers in a small teapot. Add boiling water to the pot and let infuse for 3-5 minutes. Enjoy hot or cold.
This blend makes an amazing relaxing tea and costs me much less compared to the tea bag teas that I get at organic stores.
2.4 oz (7 blooms), $10.44
If you like green tea, you have probably seen this blooming when steep in water flower tea before.
KissMe Organics Organic Blooming Tea is a USDA certified organic product made of 100% organic calendula flowers and green tea leaves and is infused with natural fruit flavoring.
Each bud (bloom) is made by hand-sewing green tea leaves around calendula flower and each has a different flavor: Cherry, Peach, Strawberry, Black Currant, Raspberry, and Cactus Melon.
Each of these seven flower blooms come in a separate sealed bag. I find a flavor a little too strong for a small teapot. If you like me and prefer a muted fruity flavor, either use a bigger pot or rinse the flower tea with boiling water before infusing it.
For a perfect presentation for your table, you might want to serve it in a glass pot.
My obsession with matcha tea started in London, UK a few years ago. There is a nice small Japanese restaurant at South Kensington called Tombo. In addition to their super tasty Japanese curry dishes, they serve almost everything made from the matcha tea.
30 gr, $23.70
In the US, I decided to order the matcha tea from Amazon, and to my surprise, I loved Jade Leaf tea even more than Tombo Ceremonial grade tea. There are several grades for matcha tea, and the best one for beverages should say “ceremonial” on the package. This would be the finest one and will easily create a foam on top when you whisk it manually.
This product is USDA certified and is sourced directly from organic farms Uji, Japan.
As you might know, matcha is a superfood. It is rich in antioxidants, helps boost metabolism, and is considered as a great source of natural energy and mental clarity.
I prepare my matcha tea the traditional way, i.e. manually, using the traditional bamboo tools.
Check my Highlights on Instagram where I shared how I prepare matcha tea at home.
On My Radar: Alteya Organics USDA Organic Rose Bud Tea
2.5 oz/80g, $13.95
I have one more product that I plan to try this month – this rosebud tea from Alteya Organics. While living in the UK, I loved adding a bud or two to the black tea and brew them together. When served, I also loved to drink it with lactose-free milk.
I’m planning to try Alteya Organics USDA Organic Rose Bud Tea and see how fragrant these rose buds will be. I’m going to share my experience on my Instagram, so stay tuned for updates!
Is there any product you would want to add to the list? Let me know in the comments down below!
P.S. Special thanks for Lala Mirsadigova and Elnara Zeynalova for sharing with us these beautiful pictures from their engagement ceremonies!