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Quaran-tea: Five of the best brews to get your buzz on

Randy Newman said it best: “You’ve got a friend in tea. You’ve got a friend in tea. When the road looks rough ahead and you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed, just brew some chamomile and clear your head, ‘cause you’ve got a friend in tea.”

Okay, so maybe those weren’t the words, although that would make a great song. It could be the theme for the next Pixar movie, “Tea Story” in which a couple of ragtag tea bags, Caffeine Buzz and Sheriff Root-y, go on an adventure with their friends Little Bo Steep, Mr. Hibiscus Head, and Bull-Zinger to stop the coffee bar they belong to from switching to concentrates and — holy sh*t how is this not already a movie!?! I have to write this screenplay; it’s too perfect! Give me one second while I go jot down a treatment. I’ll be right back.

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*Elevator music plays*

Okay, I’m back. Keep your eyes peeled for Pixar’s “Tea Story,” coming to a theatre near you in the not-too-distant future. If the Walt Disney Company has any sense at all and agrees to produce it — which they will. Because it’s brilliant. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say there’s a really intense scene at the end where all the tea bags are holding hands as they slowly sink toward death in a boiling pot of water and … Well, it’s very moving.

“Teas are like children. You love them all equally. And by equally you mean that you love the one who is a star football player and goes to Harvard on a Young Achievement scholarship, while you just sort of passively like the ones who want to become, like, abstract splatter paint artists or photographers.”

Anyway, regardless of whether or not Randy Newman agrees, there’s no doubt that tea is one of the most splendid, intoxicating substances on the face of the planet. Just look at all the things we’ve done for it: we ruthlessly conquered, brutalized and subjugated countless nations full of peaceful peoples just so that we could harvest tea leaves from their trees and sip them out of fancy little cups while talking about how Rutherford has become such an awful bore lately and would surely be cheered up by a weekend holiday in the country.

Then, when the joint-stock company that provided this tea neared bankruptcy, King George III imposed ruthless tea taxes on the American colonists to help the company out so that the British Empire would not have to go tea-less. And when these taxes made it more difficult for the colonists to buy tea, they threw a fit, killed a few more people and created a highly intricate and revolutionary system of government that would allow all people to freely buy and sip their tea without having to pay three extra cents a pound to do so.

And then we decided to flip the bird to our tea-sipping British exes by ditching the beverage and drinking coffee instead. Take that you lobster-backs! 

However, as the years have passed and our animosity toward the leaf-loving ways of the monarchy has settled, we have steadily re-embraced our love for this brewed breakfast beverage. And with fall approaching, the weather turning cold and the Celestial Seasonings Teas company beginning to roll out its line of seasonal tea flavors in grocery stores, now is the time to start stocking up on your favorite brews to keep you cozy in the coming months. If you’re looking for some nice spice-water to sip on this year, here are our picks for the best flavors to try out! 

Caramel Apple

(Caramel Apple is) everything tea ought to be: soothing and stimulating all at once, and with a nice, rich flavor to boot.”

Teas are like children. You love them all equally. And by equally you mean that you love the one who is a star football player and goes to Harvard on a Young Achievement scholarship, while you just sort of passively like the ones who want to become, like, abstract splatter paint artists or photographers. When it comes to teas, I have to admit that Caramel Apple is my favorite.

It’s the one that gets a triple-tier, custom-catered gourmet German chocolate cake on its birthday, while the others get a stale cupcake pulled off the manager’s special shelf at King Soopers.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Chamomile. We do not give Caramel Apple preferential treatment. Sure, they got a trip to Disneyland as a third grade graduation present, but we do special things for you too. Remember that time I got you a McFlurry?”

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*Sigh* You just can’t win when you’re a parent.

But what can I say? Caramel Apple is simply the best tea out there. The perfect blend of tartness and sweetness, with scrumptious sugar-buttery undertones, it’s everything tea ought to be: soothing and stimulating all at once, and with a nice, rich flavor to boot. Plus, it doesn’t spend all of its time huddled up in its room listening to screamo music and reading comic books, unlike some people. (I’m looking at you, Bengal Spice. Yes, you. Maybe if you actually tried applying yourself in life, you would get a bouncy castle at your birthday party too).

Bengal Spice

“Everything about this tea screams ‘I hate the establishment.'”

Likeable and high-achieving as it is, sometimes the sugar-buttery sweetness of Caramel Apple just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, all you want to do is huddle up in your room blasting emo music, reading comic books and resenting the nature of existence — you don’t care if you get a bouncy castle at your birthday party or not. For the spicier tea-sippers among us, there’s Bengal Spice — a dark, brooding blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves to feed your latent, adolescent rage.

Everything about this tea screams “I hate the establishment.” Just look at the tiger on the front of the box. Those eyes. That dead, unblinking, “tell-me-Lana-Del-Rey-is-not-the-greatest-musical-genius-to-ever-grace-the-earth-with-her–ice–cold-vocal–chords — I-dare-you” face. This tea is the perfect start to a day of sitting in class doodling pictures of dead teddy bears and guillotined unicorns in your notebook while tuning out the professor’s brainwashing lectures that your parents paid their life savings for you to have the opportunity to listen to and learn from. Bengal Spice is the kind of tea that is sipped from lonely, dark, shadowy corners of coffee houses. It’s like a Rage Against the Machine concert in liquid form and a go-to brew for the student cynic. 

Raspberry Zinger

Of course, not everyone likes to sip their tea from dark, shadowy corners of coffee houses, staring over the rims of their mugs through black eye-shadow-drenched eyes that conceal a soul nobody except for Billie Eilish and Satan himself could ever understand.

“If this tea were any airier, scientists would have to categorize it as a gas rather than a liquid.”

Some of us live in a pleasant, bubbly world of candy cane make-believe and are quite content with it. We prefer to sip our tea out of large, polka-dotted, spring-colored mugs with cartoony flowers purchased unironically from Pottery Barn. For the cheerier Cheerios among us, the ones who enjoy their morning brew adorned in a plush, baby blue bathrobe and pink bunny slippers while flipping through “The Magnolia Journal,” there’s Raspberry Zinger. It’s the spice girl of morning beverages.

If this tea were any airier, scientists would have to categorize it as a gas rather than a liquid. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven — by the unlicensed, unauthorized laboratories of my imagination — that drinking Raspberry Zinger in the morning actually lengthens your life span by a factor of three.

Three what? It doesn’t matter. You’re living longer, you should be grateful for that. That’s three more lifetime units that you get to sit around in a nursing home, depressively wishing you were dead. (Is that too dark? I’m sorry. I started my day off with a cup of Bengal Spice.) In all seriousness — and cheerfulness — though, Raspberry Zinger is a winner of a beverage. Sweet and tangy with a nice jolt of acid-laced sunshine, it’s the perfect drink for the optimistic tea guzzler.

Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Tea

I learn something new about green tea every day. It seems every time I go on the internet, I am always blasted in the face with some pop-up advertisement for some health program with a big, bolded factoid about the wonders of green tea. “Did you know that green tea’s antioxidants can lower your cholesterol?” “Did you know that green tea’s antioxidants can help you lose up to three more pounds of fat per week?” “Did you know that green tea’s antioxidants give you the power to turn invisible AND fly?”

“Any tea with the power to make you fly AND turn you invisible really ought to be included on the list.”

Of course, I don’t know if any of this is true. Because I don’t drink green tea. Green tea, in my opinion, is one of the most revolting substances on the planet. It tastes like toad tongues and worm larvae steeped in water. Like something that would be brewed up by the witches in Macbeth (oooh, you know, that’s probably where its strange powers come from).

Anyway, regardless of my personal opinions on the drink’s taste, it seems to me that any tea with the power to make you fly AND turn you invisible really ought to be included on the list. And when it comes to green tea, the best option is honey lemon ginseng. With enough sweetness to cover up all the nasty frog’s feet and pig’s tails and other hocus-pocus substances that give this beverage its mystical powers, it’s the perfect pick-me-up on a drowsy morning.

Pumpkin Spice Black Tea

“Next to Gwyneth Paltrow and the apocalypse, there is nothing Americans love to argue about more than pumpkin spice tea.”

In all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin spice tea. Last year I found it for an extra-cheap price on the clearance rack at the grocery store and, my mind being physically unable to resist the lure of marked down tea, I bought five boxes. Now it’s one year later, and those five boxes are still sitting in my kitchen pantry, suffocating under an inch of dust and cobwebs because, as I’ve learned, I don’t really like pumpkin spice tea. However, I include it on this list for two reasons: 

First, I’m going to need to finish off the tea sitting in my pantry at some point, so I’ve decided to engage in a Pavlovian self-conditioning experiment a la Christopher Nolan’s “Memento” whereby I rewire my brain to think that I like pumpkin spice tea by constantly telling myself that I do, thus making me more inclined to drink the pumpkin spice tea that I have. So, by adding this tea to my list of the top five teas, I am reaffirming this manufactured appreciation for the beverage and further tricking my pumpki-phobic mind into believing that it is actually pumpki-philic. 

Second, the people love pumpkin spice tea. And even if they don’t, they at least love to hate it. Next to Gwyneth Paltrow and the apocalypse, there is nothing Americans love to argue about more than pumpkin spice tea. It seems everyone has a complicated, thoroughly thought-out and violent opinion on it — one which they are constantly just itching to scream at anyone who might disagree.

So, in the time-honored American tradition of saying things just to get a rise out of someone, I decided to conclude this list with this staple of the basic American diet. Do with that what you will.

Scotty Powell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @scottysseus.

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