Offering a guest a cup of tea is standard practice in my household (at least until 5 o'clock!) so I like to keep a small variety of teas on hand to cover all sorts of tastes and situations. Tea can be formal and fussy or it can be as casual as dropping a bag into a cup of hot water, so it's good to be prepared.
I rarely drink coffee, and never at home, so I stock a variety of teas that can satisfy caffeine cravers as well as simple herb teas. And of course green tea, white tea and oolong tea, too. The trick is to not have too many teas as they can easily go stale and I find that the smaller the selection, the easier it is for people to choose. I also try to keep a balance between having tea bags and loose leaf teas so that I can be more formal or more casual, depending on the situation. Here's what I currently have in my tea stash:
One very large box of PG Tips black tea. This is my everyday tea and what I reach for first thing in the morning.
A nice loose leaf Assam for special occasions.
Genmaicha (green tea with toasted rice) in bags.
A good quality sencha, again for when I want a little fuss and ceremony.
A high quality Matcha (in the freezer).
A tin of Minty Green.
A simple mint tea.
A complex mint tea with basil and fennel.
An everyday blend like something from Celestial Seasonings.
A simple blend, with something soothing like chamomile.
I also rotate white and oolong teas through on occasion and while I know roobius is popular with many people, I usually don't have it on hand due to the fact that I'm not a fan.
What do you keep on your tea shelf?
How to Brew Loose Leaf Green Tea
How to Make a Proper Pot of Black Tea
How to Whisk a Bowl of Matcha Green Tea
Tea Time: The Quickest Way to Make a Guest Feel Welcome
(Image: Dana Velden)