My husband Justin tells me that I have a Tea Problem. Any time we go to the supermarket, even if it's for a dozen eggs and nothing more, I’ll always, somehow, end up in the tea aisle, hypnotized by all the promises:
This tea will wake me up in the morning. This tea will help me fall asleep. This tea will boost my immune system. This tea will combat stress. This tea will write my articles for me. This tea will save the world.
Justin and I have always said that tea tastes better if someone else makes it for you. (Try it, it’s true.) That's why we love making big mugs of it for each other and anyone who comes over.
A few years ago, though, we stopped making it altogether. My Tea Problem had turned into an organization problem, and our pantry was so overflowing with boxes, it had become its own stressor. Where's the tea for that?
Then I stole a trick from restaurants: a tea box. You know when you’re out to dinner and you ask for tea and the server brings over a box and you get to pick out which kind you want? It’s a small hospitality gesture, but such a pro move: By being given the choice, you feel special.
It turns out—just like so many tricks I've nabbed from working in restaurants—the same is true at home.
The box I ordered is made from bamboo, with a glass top, and little compartments for each flavor. Oh, and it’s only $11.88. A small cost to keeps my Tea Problem at bay, and make every guest who comes into our home feel awake or relaxed or like they can save the world.
And it's great when we aren't hosting, too. Now my favorite part of most nights is when Justin puts a pot of water on the stove, brings me the box, and waits patiently as I take too long to decide. No matter which one I choose: “Good pick,” he’ll say.
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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.