We spend a lot of time planning and cooking the Thanksgiving meal, but what happens when the feast is over? The late afternoon hours at the table are my favorite part, after the rush of the meal, lingering over a last bite of pie and talking with relatives I rarely get to see. But if you just can't handle one more pecan bar and another glass of wine is a bad idea, cup your hands around a hot cup of tea instead — and make enough for everyone as they sit back and digest.
Here's how we did this at our big Thanksgiving dinner this year, with some tips for a good tea to serve.
I love to be purposeful about the end of a meal. On Thanksgiving there are often football games to watch and dishes to clean, but many of us want to linger around the table. You can keep nibbling, or sipping, or just sit with your hands in your lap digesting that plate of turkey, but I think that a cup of tea is an even nicer way to warm the end of the meal.
For our California-inspired dinner outdoors, I wanted a tea to serve straight off the grill. We were heating up the grill anyway to cook the turkey, and we had this lovely Staub cast iron teapot that goes right on the grill, so why not keep the party going and warm people up as the evening cooled?
3 Tips for Choosing an After-Dinner Tea
To find a good tea, I went to Market Hall Foods, a wonderful grocery store in Oakland, and talked to their director of online sales, Sara Feinberg, who is herself a tea-lover and a fan of Mariage Frères — the storied French tea merchant. Market Hall was the first to import Mariage Frères to the States and they have a wide variety of these expertly-blended, luxurious teas.
Sara had a few suggestions for choosing an after-dinner tea:
- Go subtle - The best teas for ending a meal are quieter and more subtle, to quiet the palate and soothe the stomach. Skip the bold breakfast teas and the smoky black teas. A green tea, suggested Sara, cleanses the palate and is also simple to serve; you don't have to pull out milk, honey, or sugar.
- Stay sweet - A sweeter tea, such as a red or rooibos tea, complements dessert. Leaning towards the sweeter side also means that, like green tea, you don't need to also put out accompaniments like milk and sugar; a red tea is sweet enough on its own.
- Consider caffeine - Are your guests driving home late and glad of a little jolt of caffeine? Or would they prefer something completely unbuzzed? If the latter, Sara recommended a red tea such as Rouge Bourbon or Marco Polo Rouge from Mariage Frères, which both have that sweetness but without caffeine.
For this meal, we picked the Casablanca tea blend from Mariage Frères, which is green tea blended with mint and bergamot. The green tea has a little caffeine, but not as much as black tea.
To brew a green tea like this, boil the water and then take it off the heat for a minute or two before steeping the tea.
→ Brewing green tea: How To Brew Green Tea
This was a wonderful way to end the meal — it was refreshing to finish dessert and even a glass of port but sit around and sip hot tea after that.