Oh, Anna

I am enjoying Anna Karenina, which surprises me. The English is old, but not so formal that I need a decoder ring to read a paragraph. All the names are Russian, but I’m not getting frustrated by my inability to pronounce names properly. I’m not even getting frustrated (that much) that each character seems to have a nickname that pops up mid-paragraph and then disappears for pages, only to appear again out of nowhere. Yes, I am definitely enjoying Anna Karenina.

Note the present participle. Enjoying. I am enjoying Anna Karenina! There is no way I’ll be able to finish by next Monday. I knew it would be difficult to read 800 pages in a short month with a national holiday, and I mentioned that if it didn’t look like we (I) would finish, I’d make it the November/December pick. That’s what we’re doing. We’ll discuss Anna Karenina beginning of January because of the New Year holiday. Overdressed will get bumped to January and discussed end of January/beginning of February.

Curious development: I suddenly enjoy tea. I’m drinking chamomile, and not a fancy brand, obviously. I imagine I would like tea even more if I tried something good. Any recommendations? I can’t drink anything with caffeine, which limits my options.


Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Re tea: I am not a tea drinker but am completely hooked on Madame Flavour’s mint tea. I have the peppermint tisane, which is caffeine free, but I don’t think they do that one anymore. I’m sure the mint one they do instead is also fabulous and most likely caffeine free. For you, it will be mail order only since I think they are only in Aussie stores.

  2. says

    Rooisbush tea. It’s naturally decaf and often comes in a lot of ‘flavors’. I find the flavors make me not want to add sugar, so that’s an added bonus. I’m also a mint tea fan, but be aware some companies also make it with black tea (usually mint flavored stuff, not real herbal mint tea).

    Btw- I enthusiastically recommend a teapot warmer. Every German home has at least one and I have to say we use ours daily. You just pop in a tealight candle (now you know why they’re called that!) and put your teapot on top and a whole pot of tea stays warm. Helps get more mileage out of the teabags since you can make a pot. Glass and ceramic are what’s used here. I found one at Marshall’s once, but we use a heavy glass one my husband’s had since he was in college.

  3. Katie says

    I love tea all year round, but I also avoid caffeine. I would recommend checking out a website like the one for Stash Tea (stashtea.com) where you can buy sample packs of tea for a decent price and try them out. They also have a decaf sampler that I’ve really enjoyed. The trick for me with tea is to not steep it too long (sometimes as little as 20-30 seconds) and for some teas, I enhance the flavor with vanilla almond milk. My favorite lately is a decaf pumpkin tea with almond milk. Rooibos with almond milk is also a favorite and my standards are decaf earl grey in the morning and caffeine-free mint in the afternoon if I need a boost.

    Enjoy the rest of Anna Karenina – I can’t think of anything better than a good book and a good cup of tea.

    • says

      I recommend Stash Tea as well! The Lemon Ginger is a great herbal option. I also like the Christmas Eve tea if you want to try something seasonal. I generally stick to black teas but drink the aforementioned when I want tea in the afternoon or evening. I can’t handle caffeine after noon!

  4. says

    Tazo’s Passion tea. You can get it from Starbucks but even Some Walmarts carry it for less money. You can even make delicious iced tea from it as well. I like it hot with honey.

  5. Susan G says

    Whew – more time. Good thing since I’m on about page 40. :)

    I’ve always wanted to like tea – I love the idea of it and envy the experience, but tea makes my mouth feel dry and puckery. I’m not sure what it is – the tannic acid or something maybe? I do like citrus-flavored teas sometimes – orange with spices is one of my favorites.

  6. Fairfax Avenue says

    We have been avoiding chamomile for years. It’s related to ragweed, and some of us have severe allergies. That said, there is an entire kitchen drawer filled with various boxes of tea. When I’m cold there is something comforting about wrapping my hands around a warm mug and taking little steamy sips.

  7. says

    I love the mint tea from Trader Joe’s. I’m pretty sure it’s caffeine free but it’s refreshing (yet comforting) at the same time. I love tea.

  8. georgia says

    Oh, peppermint tea is excellent for stomach aches. Rooisbush (redbush) is also nice and good if you want to vary things a bit. I am a serious coffee lover, but if I have to be off caffeine, these are my top choices. Can’t recommend any specific brands, as probably they are not the same between U.S. and U.K. And kudos for Anna Karenina. Which translation are you using?

  9. Claire says

    I love Constant Comment! It’s available in US grocery stores and comes in a decaf version. I forget the brand name, but it comes in a black and gold rectangular box. It’s flavored with citrus and some soft spices. So wonderful on winter evenings!

    • frances says

      I’m a committed green tea drinker now (during pregnancy and nursing I drank Republic of Tea decaf green ginger peach, green kiwi pear, and green wild berry, but usually I have a cup of Tazo green ginger every morning), but one of the first teas I ever drank was Constant Comment. I remember sitting at the kitchen table exclaiming over the flavors. “Wow! I really like this tea! This tea is yummy. It’s got such a great taste. I love the flavors. I wonder what it is?” only to look at the bag and see that it was Constant Comment. Doh!
      Jules, I also love the teas from Palais de The, but I don’t know which ones are decaf. They’re all pretty wonderful, though. I would also suggest finding an actual tea store near you or online (online I would recommend Tealuxe, which I used to frequent in Harvard Square and has a great variety of teas) and sampling some loose leaf teas to find out what you really like! It’s fun to explore the different flavor possibilities. And the accessories tend to be pretty cute, too: http://www.aplusrstore.com/product.php?id=878&cid=95

    • says

      I third the recommendation for Constant Comment. It’s absolutely my favorite tea, is readily available at grocery stores (at least here in the Southeast), and inexpensive. I believe it is made by Bigelow. My mother-in-law introduced me to it – she always adds a splash of orange juice once it’s steeped, which is delicious, but not at all necessary if you’re o.j.-adverse.

  10. says

    My all time favorite tea is Twining’s Lady Grey tea (which comes in decaf). It’s similar to Earl Grey, but has a lighter, more citrus-y flavor.

  11. says

    Thanks for the extension. :) I began Anna and then abandoned it in a flurry of library books with short return dates that just HAD to be read (The Casual Vacancy, and a couple of Outlander books). My mistake–and I just made it again this morning–is to request a bunch of library books all at once, thinking they’ll trickle in. No, they always arrive at the same time and I don’t have enough time to read them all. But I vow to turn back to Anna (which I was enjoying very much!) before this next batch of library books clamors for my attention.

    • Phaedra says

      I just have to note that this EXACT SAME THING always happens to me! I think, oh that book has a hold list of 175 and this one had 10- I’m good. And then….. duh duh dunnnnn.. everything comes at once and I’m forced into a reading frenzy! Enjoy Anna before the library hold list strikes again!

  12. Jasi says

    Twinings Organic Green Tea and Oolong are pretty great and reasonably priced at any big box. Lipton black tea has always been a staple in my house because my grandmother and mother drink it like water. I love the smell but not the taste.

  13. says

    I am a bit of tea fanatic, and buy loose leaf tea blends from two local tea houses near me, which was a revelation from traditional tea bags. But there are still some yummy tea bags out there for sure! Plus, there are TONS of caffeine-free options – you are not as limited as you think. Rooibos teas (sometimes called red teas) are decaf, herbal teas are decaf, and you can find decaf green teas, too. From the grocery store I do enjoy celestial seasonings teas – two favorites for this time of year are Candy Cane Lane in decaf (it’s a green tea with mint and cinnamon flavor – so good!) and also their decaf Sweet Coconut Thai Chai (this one is excellent in latte form if you are into putting milk in your tea – I like it with vanilla almond milk, and love this one as a nighttime treat). I’d definitely suggest that you try to find a local tea house – they have unique blends and flavors and it’s fun to use those little tea strainers :)

  14. says

    Chamomile, although boring, is very good for acid reflux – so if you have esophageal issues it is far better than peppermint (which tastes better, but is actually really not great as it relaxes the esophageal sphincter). There’s a Celestial Seasons chamomile, honey and vanilla that is really nice.
    Yay for a little more time for Anna.

  15. Kirsten says

    two of my favorite subjects – tea and books!!! Picture is perfect!
    I’m on disc 10 (out of 16 for the first half of the book!) of AK. Loving this audible re-read, and glad for the extra time. Just finished Overdressed – excellent book.
    Drinking Constant Comment (caffeinated) by Bigelow as I type – I remember my mom drinking it when I was a child…love Tazo’s Wild Sweet Orange (herbal), Twinnings Premium Black Tea “Orange Bliss” , and Celestial Seasonings seasonal Sugar Plum Spice.
    And then a chai latte every now and then.

  16. says

    Try rooibos tea (a South African red bush tea). It’s naturally caffeine free. You can drink it with milk and sugar. Or it’s also great with lemon & honey, especially when you’re sick with a sore throat. When you prepare it, be sure to get the water proper boiling hot and let it steep for about 5 minutes.

    White teas are also really nice if you prefer something on the lighter, more delicate side.

    If you really want to splurge, you might head to a Teavana (http://www.teavana.com/). They’ve got some really yummy stuff there. A bit pricey…but may make for a nice holiday gift or treat! I lived in Mission Viejo and there was one there, so it’s likely there’s one near you.

  17. Brandi says

    Teavana has a wonderful blend that is sort of spicy, but really nice. The description from the website is below….plus, they’ll let you try it! I love samples.

    Maharaja Chai Oolong & Samurai Chai Maté intermingle to form a blend that is bold in flavor and rich in heritage. Ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorn, cloves, & nutmeg harmoniously balance with sweet notes of pineapple, papaya & star anise. Spicy and rich, this sweet Ayurvedic blend combines oolong, maté and green rooibos in a wealth of flavor. (PRODUCT CONTAINS NUTS)

  18. Ashley says

    I’ve always wanted to read that book…someday.
    Tazo (Starbuck’s tea) makes a wonderful cucumber white tea with lime that is soothing and refreshing 😉
    Also, if you try loose leaf teas, I found that the tiny silk favor bags with drawstrings (in party/wedding supply aisles) make perfect single serve tea bags that are re-usable.
    They’ll eventually stain from darker teas, but I just swish them in dishwater, rinse, and lay them out to dry.

  19. says

    I read Anna Karenina a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It’s definitely worth the long haul! As for tea…I am a tea lover but have the same problem – no caffeine. Currently I’m enjoying peach tea from Bigelow. I love Tazo Passion Tea for iced tea. Coffee Bean swedish berries is also great for iced tea. Celestial seasonings makes a great coconut thai…I know there’s more but that’s all I can come up with now!

  20. Jenn says

    I love Celestial Seasoning’s Sleepytime Tea with Vanilla. Yummy. Not a big fan of regular Sleepytime Tea, though. I also love Twining’s Herbal Unwind.

  21. says

    Can’t wait to try out some of these tea suggestions! I can’t drink caffeine because it triggers my migraines. I DEEPLY miss black tea (was never a coffee drinker). Stash’s Earl Grey decaf is the one I’ve found that’s most like the real thing. My favorite herbal is Tazo’s Refresh (a minty tea).

  22. says

    I normally love to drink some sort of black tea but at the moment I’m pregnant, so I’ve temporarily quit caffeine. I also suggest rooibos – vanilla rooibos especially. I get mine from World Market but it’s pretty much all good. Serve with sweetener and a good splash of milk. I recently discovered that not all peppermints are created equal. Love Stash’s, but not Celestial Seasonings’. Have fun sampling!

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