Discover Maria's Favorites: Teas That Elevate Everyday Moments

a woman with blonde hair and glasses smiles in front of a window

Today, we have something really special for you. Maria Uspenski, the founder and CEO of The Tea Spot, has taken the time to share some of her personal favorites that have earned a permanent spot on her tea shelf at home.
"I’m excited to share my tea picks with everyone," says Maria. "These are truly the favorites that sit on my shelf at home, and which I turn to every day. Although it’s sometimes hard to choose just 8 teas out of our line-up of about 10 times as many choices, these are all teas which I’ve sourced or developed myself, almost selfishly, for my wellness."

Starting the Day Right: Organic Sencha and Wild Harvest Green Pu’erh

Maria begins every morning with two cups of green tea on an empty stomach. "It’s my one daily non-negotiable, along with making my bed," she notes. "The reason for doing this first thing is to refuel on those green tea catechin polyphenols, which rank amongst the strongest immune-boosting antioxidants available in nature. It’s also a perfect time to set the daily mood right with my favorite amino acid, L-theanine, the 'feel-good' molecule which green tea is also known for. I love to do my morning tea slowly, as I’m waking, and about half the time I manage to get in 20-30 minutes of meditation and yoga alongside my morning tea. It’s the perfect start to my day."

Organic Sencha

"Our Organic Sencha is classic and simply lovely. Because it’s from Kagoshima, the southernmost island in Japan, and grown close to the open water, it’s endowed with a wonderful natural flavor, reminiscent of the sea. I love this part of Japan, as it’s a wild and natural terrain scattered with volcanos and greenery. My recommended steep on Sencha is to do short steeps of about 30 seconds, starting with really cool water, like 160 F, then increasing the temp by 15 degrees F and the time by 30 seconds with each steep. I normally get 3-4 steeps out of my sencha, but I use a higher leaf: water ratio of about 2 rounded teaspoons per 8 oz serving."

Wild Harvest Green Pu’erh

"Wild Harvest Green Pu’erh is almost at the entirely opposite end of the spectrum for green teas. It is a large leaf tea, plucked from ancient tea teas growing wildly on sun-drenched steep hillsides. The handcrafting process for this tea is short, simple and entirely natural. The leaves are plucked, allowed to wilt for a few hours in the sunlight by their trees, then brought down the mountains to be fired for a few short minutes in giant woks. Then they’re hand-macerated for a few minutes, to help the enzymes release, releasing more flavor into the leaves, and then left to dry on large straw mats in the bright sun. For my taste, this tea is the closest thing to a biting into a fresh tea leaf. Here too, I like steeping in cooler water and doing multiple steeps. If you don’t love this tea right away, try cold brewing it, where the proportion would be about 1 TBS leaves per 22 oz Everest tea tumbler, or 2 tsp in a 16 oz mason jar if you’re using the Craft Cold Brew Filter. Ready to drink within 1 hour."

a matcha bowl has freshly brewed matcha while a matcha bamboo whisk is held above it

On-the-Go: Matcha

"On those days when my morning schedule says that meditation is not in the cards, and I have to zoom out the door, a quick whisking of our ceremonial matcha is all I need to get my polyphenol and L-Theanine boost before facing the challenges of the day. And yes, I opt for the ceremonial matcha when drinking it straight. My way to make it is with 175-180F water and 100 whisks back and forth (it’s done in a minute!) in the matcha bowl."

Afternoon treat with 8 Immortals Oolong

"8 Immortals Oolong is a tea that resonates deeply with me," Maria shares. "Not just for the satisfying cold brew I often make on lazy afternoons, but also for the connection to Brian and Tiffany, the fifth generation tea makers who call the Phoenix Mountains home. Their land and skill have been passed down from generation to generation, crafting these magical oolongs that manage to be intensely aromatic without the need for any artificial scents. The craftsmanship alone brings these leaves to life. My personal recipe for cold brewing this tea involves using about 1 tablespoon of leaves per Everest tumbler, and it's ready to savor within just one hour."

Exploring the Essence of Yunnan with Yunnan Sun-dried Black

"Yunnan is a dream for me," Maria enthuses. "When the pandemic hit, I even momentarily fantasized about becoming a tea farmer in this charming part of China. What draws me to Yunnan is its rich culture, diverse population, and the wild, pervasive aroma of tea leaves in the air. The Yunnan Sun-dried Black tea we offer is pure and incredibly fresh. For an afternoon pick-me-up, this tea is my go-to. I infuse one heaping teaspoon in 8 oz of water at 200F for about 4 minutes. A second steep is just as delightful, just a tad hotter and a bit longer."

a teapot pours tea into a tea cup on a black tray

Embracing the Age-Old Tradition with Black Pu’erh Tuochas and Morning Mojo

"Sometimes, I need that extra nudge in the morning," Maria explains. "And that's when I turn to our Black Pu'erh Tuochas or Morning Mojo. Pu'erh is known for its ability to aid digestion and offer pre-biotic benefits, making it a wonderful mid-morning selection. Each one brings its unique flavor profile, so you’re not just enjoying wellness benefits, you're also experiencing something quite transcendent."

The Perfect Entertaining Picks: Boulder Blues and Ceylon Orange Pekoe

"Entertaining is all about shared moments and delightful surprises," says Maria. "Our Boulder Blues, a blend of Japanese-style Sencha and Chinese Dragonwell, accented with cornflowers and strawberry-rhubarb flavor, is a definite crowd-pleaser. I recommend cold brewing it for at least 2 hours in the fridge; don't fret about removing the leaves. It's also perfectly balanced, so if it's too strong, a few ice cubes will do the trick."
"For those who appreciate a classic iced tea, our Ceylon Orange Pekoe from the renowned Lumbini Tea Garden in Sri Lanka is unbeatable. Cold brew it for at least 6 hours—I usually let it steep overnight. Use about 1.5 tablespoons per 32 oz of cool water for the best results."

A Nightcap for Wellness: Elderberry Immunity

"Elderberry Immunity is my preferred choice for an evening tea," Maria concludes. "It's heavy on beautiful, full elderberries, which blend seamlessly with energy-leveling herbs. It’s not just an after-dinner drink, it's a comforting ritual that helps me wind down and prepares me for the restful night ahead."

Try Maria's Favorites out for yourself!

From the start of her day to the quiet moments of the evening, Maria’s tea choices help to create a sense of well-being and balance. And as always, each cup is an opportunity to pause and relish life's simple pleasures.
As you sip your way through these recommendations, may each tea also find a permanent spot on your shelf, serving as your trusty companion in the everyday—adding a touch of warmth and a splash of flavor to your own moments of wellness. Cheers to elevating every moment with The Tea Spot!

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