Hobbies

Hobbies

Ranking My Favorite Teas

A Ranking of all the Teas I’ve Tried

So, I have mentioned that I enjoy drinking tea. I put it on all of my social media bios because I drink at least a cup a day. If you’ve met me in real life, you’d know that I can’t go a day without drinking tea. And as a society, I feel like we don’t talk about tea enough. Coffee dominates our conversations about hot beverages, even though eighty percent of American households have tea in their kitchens. I was surprised, since tea isn’t talked about in the US the way we hear about tea in England. Who knew! I absolutely love tea as a college student, so I decided to talk about it. Here it is–the list of teas that I like or have shaped my life. Let’s go.

Lipton Black Tea

This is from Unsplash, but still. Quite boring, isn’t it?

Caffeinated: Yes

Recommended for: iced tea fans and fans of classic beverages

Lipton tea was the first type of tea that I tried. It is not my favorite, but I still have a cup now and then when I have a chance. Lipton is part of the reason that I thought I disliked tea for the entirety of my childhood. Lipton tea is a black tea, which though it is helpful when I’m sick, I just don’t vibe with it. Black teas have a strong, distinct flavor that I just can’t get into. When I was younger, I thought Lipton black and green tea were my only options. I know that Earl Gray and other black teas are pretty popular, but I’m not a fan.

It wasn’t until I went to college and tried other teas that I realized that it didn’t have to be that way. If I am drinking Lipton tea, I usually add some honey. It is the only tea I will drink honey with–otherwise it ends up meshing with the flavor, and I don’t like it. Honey makes black tea sweeter, which it desperately needs. I think I still put this on the list because I like the idea of it. I drink it at home with my mom when I am sick. It has grown on me, just a little.

Chamomile

They are made of flowers, but I’ve never tried to make my own.

Caffeinated: No

Recommended for: those who want to relax and sleep well after a long day

Chamomile is a chill type of drink. When I’m worried about something, I usually go for a cup of tea. I go for a cup of chamomile at night often because it contains apigenin, which can help you fall asleep. Not tired? Don’t worry, chamomile helps you sleep, but it rarely makes me feel sleepy or super tired during the day. Sometimes I’ll have a cup of chamomile in the morning.

I have been drinking chamomile lately because of my cold. I’ve also been avoiding caffeinated teas, so chamomile fits the bill. I usually get Celestial Tea for Chamomile, but I don’t have a strong brand preference. I love a good love chamomile tea with lemon too. My college gives us Numi tea as part of our meal plan, and while not all the flavors are for me, I love whenever they have chamomile lemon. The lemon adds a bit of extra flavor, and it just tastes great. Tea with lemon is also helpful when you are sick, so I’ve been drinking lemon tea every chance I get. Lemons go with this tea really well.

Matcha

Beautiful. I can’t declare my love for this drink enough.

Caffeinated: Yes

Recommended for: fans of trendy caffeinated drinks with loads of health benefits

I first heard about Matcha lattes from a fitness Instagram account that I follow called Blogicomics by Cassey Ho. I think it was a comic where she meets a new friend, and they decide to get matcha lattes together. She raved about them on her social media, so I figured I’d have to check them out. I’ve also always been drawn to green smoothie drinks. They sound nutritious, have health benefits, and I feel all fancy when I order one. I also like trying things that I’ve never heard of before. Matcha lattes and drinks are made from matcha power, which is a green tea powder made from finely dried tea leaves. Matcha originates from Japan and was brought to the US because Americans like health drinks. They’re pretty good drinks, so I’m not surprised.

I first tried a matcha latte at Dunkn Donuts, and it was good. I also got a matcha doughnut. That is a glazed donut with matcha power on top. I personally didn’t like it. Matcha powder on its own without tea tastes odd, and I like my doughnuts to be sweet. It totally messed with the purpose of a doughnut. In my opinion, doughnuts are great because of the sugar, icing, cream, and sometimes jelly. Eating “green doughnut” or vegetables on a doughnut would be terrible. I don’t get it, but if you like them–that’s cool. Matcha also contains caffeine, so I would be aware of that before having a cup at 11 PM. Matcha Tea takes a bit more preparation as well; it comes in powder rather than a bag, and you have to stir it into a hot cup of water.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint is great for studying. It helps me focus and fits the aesthetic.

Caffeine: No

Recommended for: tea newbies, fresh breath and mint advocates (it is also said to help with digestion, cramps, and headaches, but there isn’t a ton of evidence–it feels like it helps, at least)

Peppermint tea is one of the first teas that I got into. I like the taste of peppermint leaves, and I figured it would be pretty risk-free to try first. I like peppermint tea. It is minty and I like to have a cup after a meal or at night. I like Celestial’s peppermint the most, but I also like Mint Medley with Bigelow. I like this tea for its flavor and the lack of caffeine. It is a good tea to drink as I’m working on homework or studying. I occasionally get bored of peppermint, and I have been exclusively drinking chamomile at night for the past few weeks.

Fruit Tea

I don’t make tea in a kettle. I (gasp) microwave it. I do want to buy a tea kettle at some point.

Caffeinated: No

Recommended for: fruit fans and people new to or who don’t like the taste of other tea

Fruit tea is a type of tea that I haven’t branched out much with. I sometimes buy the Celestial Fruit Tea Sampler. I love blueberry and I like the cherry, raspberry and mixed fruit. I can’t get into the peach for some reason. I love peaches in real life, but the flavor of this tea just doesn’t feel strong. I drink it anyway, but it isn’t my favorite. Fruit tea is a good alternative for fruit juice or soda. They taste like fruit and don’t have the taste of regular tea. I’ve never been a big fan of fruit juice, but fruit tea is a bit of everything.

Chai

This is a Chai Latte, which I prefer over the tea alone

Caffeinated: Yes

Recommended for: coffee shop enthusiasts and those who don’t mind a little spice in life

If you’ve ever been to a coffee shop, you’ve probably heard of chai tea. I love when I go into a coffee shop and they put a swirl on top of the chai. I’m more of a fan of the hot chai lattes than anything. It is so good. I have tried to get into iced chai lattes, but they are just okay. While I prefer to get one from a shop, I do drink it at home occasionally. I got a package of chai tea as a Christmas gift, and I quite enjoyed it. It is filled with spices, and I like adding milk. I’m pretty picky about my chai tea. I don’t like drinking it on its own, I need milk or some sort of sweetener. I’ve also drank a decent bit of chai in the past year, so I got tired of it for a bit. I will have to try a good chai tea latte again sometime, that would be nice.

Final Thoughts on Tea

So, that’s my list of teas. I’m still fairly new to the whole tea drinking lifestyle, but I absolutely love it. Tea looks beautiful with an aesthetic and loose leaf teas fascinate me, but I haven’t ventured far with them yet. I also want to try a lavender tea and more types of green tea. I have been avoiding caffeinated tea for the most part lately, so we will see.

Strangely enough, my pursuit of tea has been a fairly autonomous and independent act. My family doesn’t drink tea much, and I buy it for myself in college. I also have tried new tea and drank tea with friends. It is as good social activity and a solo one. It has been a pursuit of aesthetic, of taste, and of health. I feel like it is a journey that I am still growing in, but I’m curious to see where it goes.

That’s my list. There are a few teas I tried a few times but just don’t like. I don’ t drink sweet tea at all and I can’t stand rooibos tea no matter how many times I grab it when I’m craving a caffeine free tea at my college cafeteria. Does anyone really like rooibos tea? Other than that, I tend to stick to the basics. I hope to branch out soon.

What is your relationship with tea? What are your favorite types? Are there any teas you avoid? Let me know down in the comments below.

Hobbies

Here is a List of the Top 5 Wii Games that had an impact on my Childhood, Because Wii is the Best Game System

This is a response to P.A. Wilson’s list of video games that impacted her childhood. I too, gamed a few times as a young person, I wasn’t a huge gamer–I don’t play much anymore–and my favorite system as a child was probably the Wii. I think it still is. Throughout my life, certain video games I played as a kid have stuck with me, and I wanted to share them with you. I have laughed and cried over them, and I have wanted to chuck a Wii remote into the abyss. Have I? No, but I was tempted. So here it is, the list of games that have formed my childhood–for better or for worse.

1. Just Dance

Release date: November 17, 2009

Just Dance is a game that I hope will stay in the memories of our generation. I’m surprised and disappointed that Just Dance is kind of dying out. Just Dance is a great game for anyone who likes to dance to popular music for fun and to be silly. It is also good exercise. You can definitely work up a sweat. I don’t know why people don’t talk about it more. The songs they choose are always culturally relevant bops. I’m not sure what’s not to like.

It is incredibly underrated and it is probably one of the best games to come out of Wii. Who can forget dancing to Katy Perry or Justin Bieber songs, or choosing a giraffe avatar for a group song? So iconic. But of course, I don’t just enjoy feeling connected to pop culture. The game had other benefits as well.

Playing Just Dance was a time in my day where I could be silly and have fun and not feel embarrassed or awkward about anything. After a long, stressful day of school, I had a time to be myself and felt comfortable. They say to dance like no one in watching. On the flip side, I can’t romanticize the past too much.

While I enjoyed letting loose and dancing to songs I loved, playing Just Dance is still an odd experience. I start dancing and I’d feel like there was this other person watching and judging me. Regardless of my score, I would wonder, am I doing this right? These moves just feel odd, what would people think of me if they saw me move that way. I’m not coordinated. But I still played this game, because it was fun. I learned to live with self-judgement and this pressure that I had imposed on myself. I sometimes felt like someone was watching, but sometimes I could fully let go, it depended. Sometimes I felt both at the same time.

When I played with friends, those insecurities weren’t as there. I had my doubts. Sometimes it seemed like my friends were better, but I mostly didn’t care. We were having fun together. My friend even made a playlist for us with all of the songs.

Overall, this game is just fun and encourages you to be yourself, to be goofy, and to play alone or with friends. I love pop music, so this was a fun time to dance along. Creating my own moves myself was unthinkable at the time, so it worked out. Overall, it was a 10/10 experience, and I’m not sure I can say how much I love this game.

2. Animal Crossing

Release Date: November 16, 2008

I didn’t play Animal Crossing very much. I only had the Wii version as a kid, but I have had my share of fun and frustration with Tom Nook, therefore I want talk about it.

Tom Nook annoyed the heck out of me. I remember starting my first city and basically being forced to work for him. Does Tom Nook have a monopoly in this town? Is he the only one hiring? Is this town a weird cult where you have to be initiated by Tom Nook until you can move in? I guess everyone needs a first job, and he offers a start. Doesn’t mean I liked him though.

Tom required me to run around town doing his errands. Why doesn’t he ever train you to help run the shop or sell stuff? I’m not sure why collecting butterflies is such a necessary skill or why people pay for them. I was so happy when I was no longer under his chain of command.

But, other than that–and a few annoying neighbors–I liked this game. The world of Animal Crossing is a peaceful, agrarian society. You as the player are fairly self-sufficient. You can decorate a house of your own however you like and live off the land, catching fish and picking fruit from trees to survive. Thoreau would have liked this game.

I loved visiting the tailor shop and picking fabrics for my clothes. I wish I’d worked there; Sable and Mable are so sweet.

Your life in Animal Crossing quite awesome. You are also surrounded by friends, and you can just walk over to their houses and chat. Sure, some of your neighbors were annoying–Avery, cough, cough–and complained randomly, but many of them were nice as well–Bella was my best friend in this game.

With animal crossing, there is little competition, and there isn’t an ultimate goal for your character. You don’t have to defeat Bowser, compete to win a race, or get through a maze. In Animal Crossing, you’re just living your best life. You get to decide what your goals are, how to spend your time, and who you befriend. You can give back to the community by catching fish and bugs for the museum. You can go into town and take a shopping trip. The game is fun. If my future were like Animal Crossing, I think I’d be quite content.

My only complaint is that this game gets kind of…boring. You mostly catch fish and hang out with people, but there aren’t any major plot obstacles to overcome from what I remember. I also didn’t know many people who played the Wii version, so I didn’t connect with other friends through this game. Maybe if I ever got the DS version, It’d be cooler.

3. New Super Mario Bros Wii

Release Date: November 12, 2009

I’m going to talk about this game more, because I’ve played it the most, and I love it. I’m not sure if there’s a list of the most number of plays for this game, but I hope that my family would be pretty high on it. We got Super Mario Bros when we first got a Wii, when I was around 9 years old. If you haven’t played, basically, Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach at her birthday party of all places, and then keeps hiding her in different castles. Bowser has many friends just like him. They keep hiding in a castle and hiding until Mario and his friends travel through each world, reach the castle, and defeat him.

The bowsers keep castle hopping, and they get increasingly annoying. I remember playing through the first time with my family took forever. We spent so long trying to get to the end of each world the first time we played through, and I think it took years. Countless hours were put into the final battle between Mario and Bowser and that battle took ages. World Seven was the place we barely ventured to and hardly spoke of. We called it the cloud world.

I love this game, still do. The rounds are extremely repayable and are still challenging after years of playing. My family decided to collect all the Star Coins after we defeated the world. The weird thing is that they don’t give you anything for getting all the Star Coins. A message pops up on the screen and that’s it. Boring.

Mario Lingo:

Toads should be called mushrooms or mushes for short, because they looked more like mushrooms than toads. I still don’t get why they call them toads.

Yoshi should be horses because you ride them like a horse, and it just fits. Out of all the levels on Super Mario Bros, the Yoshi levels were probably my favorites. I loved flying with the Yoshis and eating fruit from the trees. I haven’t ridden a horse much in my life, but it felt powerful. I like it.

The Best Superpowers

  1. Propeller hats are the best power. I called them flying power; they helped you go everywhere and make it easiest to avoid villains and travel. Can someone create a propeller hat that works IRL? Actually nevermind. Even if this were scientifically possible, I would probably be afraid to fly with a device that is connected to my head alone.
  2. Fire power looks cool and it is easier to control, so I’d say it takes second place. The toads also look awesome with fire power.
  3. Penguin power is adorable, and sliding is fun. I’ll admit though, I lost many lives in round 3, the ice world, because I slipped into the abyss.

The other powers were just okay. Star power wears out quickly. Freeze doesn’t look as cool as the others. The shrinking power is cute, but if you die, you don’t get a second chance.

Biggest Pet Peeves/Cons

  1. The red mushroom is really annoying. The mushroom constantly cries for your help and you have to carry him through each level. Saving him gives you power houses, but still, I didn’t love him.
  2. You’re forced to play Mario. Whether you are playing as a single player or with a group, somebody has to be Mario. You can have Mario and any of the yellow and blue mushroom(s) or just Mario and Luigi, but you can’t play just as Mushrooms or as Luigi. This annoyed me a bit. Luigi is my favorite character, and he is cool enough to do a level on his own. Same with the mushrooms. But that’s just my opinion.
  3. Damsel in Distress. Super Mario Bros thrives on the damsel and distress trope. Peach is always kidnapped and needs to be saved by Mario and Luigi. She’s totally helpless and stands there while the guys save her. I like her in Mario Cart, but in this game, she doesn’t do much.

4. Mario Cart

Mario cart is a game that I didn’t play as often, but it was still fun. I liked racing against my siblings, cousins, and friends. Yoshi is my go to character, and no, I am not very talented at it. I think I’m an average Mario Cart player, if last place could count as average. Some of my favorite places to play are the place with the ski resort, the space island, and the haunted mansion. Like I said, I love Luigi.

5. Wii Sports Resort

I know Wii Sports is pretty fun, but Wii Sports Resort is where it is at. In this game, you can fence your enemies. If they fail, you can push them into the ocean. I’m not sure what’s more fun than that. I got pretty good at swordplay too, it was probably the only game I played on here regularly. Perhaps I was missing out, but pushing people into the water just took the cake.

I liked a few of the other games on WSR too. Cycling was fun and offered cool locations like the beach. How often in life you get to bike on the beach? Not enough. For some reason, 100 pin bowling was fun, and so was archery, although I wasn’t the best at either. I have played Wii Sports as well, and while it is good, the swordplay option in Sports Resort is awesome. I would be terrified of and would feel bad about pushing people into the water in real life, but it is great as a game.

Have you played the Wii? What did you think of my list? What are your favorite games? Let me know down in the comments below!

Hobbies

The Best Way to Relax During College: Why I love Yoga and the local studio on Broad Street

people exercising

A few weeks ago, I decided to check out a local yoga studio for the first time. I got into yoga when I was sent home from college during the pandemic and felt stuck. What started with a YouTube recommendation for a Yoga with Adrienne video and a bit of curiosity turned into a regular practice and skill that I wanted to continue.

In a world where life feels like it is constantly moving, yoga offered a time where I never felt like I had to rush.

I’ve never been super flexible, and it was definitely challenging at first. The virtual instructors early on said that yoga is great for everyone because you can practice at your own pace. My positions were not supposed to be exact replicas of what I saw on the screen, especially as a beginner. I went through each to the best of my ability and moved gently from pose to pose. I loved how yoga focused on the breath combined with motion and mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness of what you are sensing and feeling at the moment. It’s so easy for me to get so caught up in all the tasks I have to do that I forget to take a breath and appreciate where I am right now.

Once I watched my first yoga video, I quickly found out that I wouldn’t have to worry about running out anytime soon. YouTube offers a yoga video for from five minutes to over an hour, any mood you’re in, and all skill levels. Yoga isn’t the best to do on the carpet, so I bought a mat pretty early.

One year later, yoga is still a good go-to whenever I want to relieve stress, get some exercise in, take a break from schoolwork, or just relax. In college, when it feels my work is never done, it is nice to start a yoga or exercise practice. I can let go of my thoughts and worries about the day and focus on my breath and the movements of each pose. Sometimes, I would take a 5-10 minute yoga break during the day and my mind feels more clear and I feel so much less tense.

Once I got back to my college dorm, it was a little more difficult to let go of thoughts of school, but even if I’m stressed starting out, I always feel better having completed practice and I get a boost of motivation to return to my assignments for the day. Yoga also helps me wind down at night or wake up in the morning.

I thought of trying out a studio at college for a while and heard they would be open in the Fall, but I kept putting it off. I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure what it would be like in person. One weeknight, I decided to check out a Vinyasa class at 5 pm. I walked into town and checked out the local studio, Broad Street Yoga. I saw warm candlelight fill the square studio windows as I walked up to the studio from the darkening street. A woman with flowing brown curls and bubbles around her was painted on the window.

I went to check-in and then walked into the back room. The floors were long dark hardwood and candles and a small speaker rested at the ends of the room. The room was a little warm, but not hot. About halfway through the lesson, it got hotter and our instructor asked if we’d like to turn the fans on. Our yoga instructor began with stretches and we went through each phase with our breath, counting down from five each time. I had worried a little before that with other people in the room, I would feel self-conscious or it would be harder to lose track of my thoughts and focus on the movements. But with the candles, wide-open space, and the gentle voice of our instructor, I felt more mindful of my movement through each pose than I had in my (sometimes messy) college dorm and my living room at home.

Yoga also feels so nice. The stretch felt great after a long day of classes, and I was a little sore afterward, but not too sore. The class was an hour, which was longer than I usually did for online classes, and it felt like a perfect time slot. By the end of the session, I had gotten lost in the movement and gentle music playing in the back right corner. College worries were out of my mind for an hour. I walked back to my dorm feeling less stressed, peaceful, and happy. The people that were there with me were kind and understanding. We talked a little before and after the session and it was nice to have company going through a class with me.

woman in white tank top and pink leggings doing yoga

Some of the stretches required a lot of flexibility and balance, and I did drop my foot a couple of times only to stand back up again. My instructor told me that “if you’re doing your best, you’re doing it right.” It helped me feel better. Every time I tried a pose and wished that I could balance longer or in a harder pose, I knew there was an opportunity to improve through further practice. After a few months, these poses would be more familiar and I’d be able to hold them longer and with more ease, but they’d still be challenging. There are a few modified poses too that require a little less balance if you’re not comfortable with the more difficult ones. I still do modified poses when the first pose seems less doable. That’s a nice thing with yoga, all levels are welcome, and even experts can get a good workout after a long session.

I also learned that there are many different types of yoga. I took a Vinyasa class, which I had been more familiar with when I watched online videos, which focuses on breath-work and motion. Vinyasa yoga classes typically switch up the poses throughout the sequence in a continuous flow. The Vinyasa keeps life moving and I love how no sequence is exactly the same.

I think I’ll be back at the yoga studio on Broad Street and I’ll keep looking at online videos. Broad Street Yoga also records lessons to be put on Zoom if you’re unable to visit in person. Either way, yoga has been rewarding and I’d say if you get the chance, check out a local yoga studio, a yoga video on YouTube, or just look up some poses online. If you’re interested in Broad Street Yoga, check out the schedule on their website: https://www.broadstreetyoga.com/schedule

Have you ever visited Broad Street Yoga or tried yoga before? How did you like it? Do you have a favorite way to chill either on a busy day or just whenever? Let me know in the comments!