Tea in the morning, tea in the evening,
tea at supper time,
You get tea when it's raining,
tea when it's snowing
tea when the weather's fine,
You get tea as a mid-day stimulant,
You get tea with your afternoon tea
For any old ailment or disease
For Christ sake have a cuppa tea
The Kinks

On a recent visit to London, I took my Irish friend, Eileen, to one of my favorite London haunts: the Tea Palace on Westbourne Grove. With more than 100 different teas to choose from, the Tea Palace is heaven for an Irishwoman! However, after perusing the extensive tea menu, Eileen looked at me a little confused and asked, "Do you think they have ordinary tea?" What the heck was I thinking—that an Irishwoman was going to stray from tradition?

As someone who grew up in Ireland, I know just how much the teapot is a big part of our daily lives. As a child, I'd knit tea cozies to keep the brew warm, and on a winter's evening, my family would sit around the fire and drink tea. There was no such thing as what kind of tea—there was simply tea. Fortunately for Eileen, the Tea Palace was able to satisfy with a nice black tea with milk and sugar.

These days, there's a vast range of teas to choose from, and every time I go shopping, there seems to be even more. I confess to having strayed from the purity of my Irish roots and embracing a whole new world of teas. I've even tainted my mother, who never starts her day without her two cups of green tea and swears it's the fountain of youth.

I like to jump-start my day with a tea that has a little caffeine, like a white, green or jasmine tea. White tea has about 2 percent caffeine, while green and jasmine teas contain 5 percent. Since anything more than that (like black tea, which has between 10 and 20 percent caffeine) makes me a little overexcited, I tend to stick to those three. I also always have a bag of dried rosebuds among my tea collection, as it adds a lovely flavor and aroma when combined with white or green tea.

Get the lowdown on different types of teas


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