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jazz up your tea at any coffee shop

We have all been there, at the front of the line at your go-to coffee shop, looking at the menu for the listing of teas. Sometimes there is a listing propped up on the counter to see your options. Often, you have to ask the barista to grab the list for you to look over. If they're savvy on their teas, they will have broken up the categories into green, black, white, and herbal. If they're REALLY savvy, there may even be an additional category for blooming, tisanes, pearls, rooibos, or specialty mixes. Nonetheless, you are standing there, trying to make up your mind on your tea-of-the-day, something to pick you up in the morning or calm you down in the afternoon (or something to just hold to keep you warm as Fall approaches!), and you think, "Even with all these teas, I wish I could do something MORE to my tea than just some milk and honey."

Truthfully, tea can get a little boring. Hot water + tea. The end. Maybe some milk + honey, some sugar. In comparison to the coffee choices, though, with all their syrups, hot + cold options, brewing options (cold brew, drip, pour-over, etc etc), tea can pale in comparison. Until our culture begins to really incorporate tea into the everyday lifestyle, it can feel like us tea-lovers get overlooked.

That's why I have decided to share some of my 'tea secrets' to jazz up your tea at ANY coffee shop (without having to pay lots of $$$). Here are my 3 top ways I add some spunk to my tea:

1. Extracts + syrups. Who says only coffee drinkers get to use the flavored syrups? Most coffee shops will have the basics: vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel. If it's a coffee shop that cares at all about flavor, they might have up to 10 or more. Take a look! Any earl grey can be turned into vanilla lavender earl grey. Any chai can be turned into a salted caramel chai. Any herbal peppermint can be turned into chocolate mint. The list is endless! My only suggestion is that when you order, tell them specifically how many pumps you would like. After working in a coffee shop, I know that a normal 'add shot syrup' is 5 pumps or more! For tea, you do not want to dilute the richness and delicacy of the tea, so ask for 1-3 pumps, depending on the size. My fave? Vanilla rooibos in the afternoon.

2. Mock tea latte - half steamed milk, half hot water + 2 raw sugars. Tell the barista you want a tea latte, and he or she will add a couple bucks to the order. All of a sudden a medium tea (about $2, becomes $4.25!). A way around this, is to ask the barista to do half steamed milk, half hot water. That way, you still get the foamy deliciousness that a tea latte offers, but still at a reasonable price. (Most of the coffee shops only charge .25 cents extra for milk). For some sweetness without adding more money for syrup, is to just ask for 2 raw sugars to be added before the steamed milk (that way it doesn't just sit on top, but rather is dissolved). Voila! A make-shift (and cheap!) tea latte for ANY tea you like. My fave? Always earl grey - the foamy steamed milk + 2 raw sugars make it into a cheap London Fog!

3. Make any tea an ICED tea. All you have to do is order a small tea with two tea bags, and a large cup of ice on the side. Here's what you do: steep your 2 teabags a little longer in your small cup (i.e. instead of 3 minutes for earl grey, steep for 6-8 minutes). That way, the flavor is concentrated and maybe a little bitter. Then, pour it over your large cup of ice. The hot water will melt the ice, and the ice will dilute the concentrated, bitter taste. Boom! An iced tea of ANY tea of your choosing. Go crazy and add a little syrup too!

Well, there you go! I hope you have found these 3 tips helpful. Go and try one today, and post your experience below, I'd love to hear.

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