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OPINION | BOTTLE SHOTS: Replacement teas that mirror the tastes of wine

by Seth Eli Barlow | January 26, 2022 at 1:57 a.m.

Though I may be a little ambivalent toward the concept of "dry January," the truth is that even I sometimes like to take a break from wine. I carry a water bottle with me almost everywhere, but there are still instances when I simply crave flavor from my drinks. That's when I turn to the third greatest drink on Earth: tea (Dr Pepper are numbers one and two).

I've long been a fan of Abbi's Teas & Things (, the quaint tea shop nestled in Little Rock's Hillcrest neighborhood. Over the years, owner Abbi Siler has guided me through dozens of her handcrafted tea blends, and I've found many that bear a striking similarity to popular wines. With that in mind, I reached out to Abbi to help identify some teas to try when you're not in the mood for wine.

If you like big, bold, high-tannin cabernet sauvignon ...

Try the Cherry Fig blend. This was actually the very first of Abbi's teas that I tried, and its rich and fruity aromas are the perfect replacement for big, sturdy reds from California.

If you like lighter styles of pinot noir ...

Teas that incorporate hibiscus lend an air of tropicality to your brew. Passion Potion and Lavender Hibiscus, a personal favorite, perfectly match pinot's high-acid, aromatic complexity.

If you're bonkers for Beaujolais ...

Beaujolais is famous for its delicate floral aromas, making it a perfect match for Lavender Lemon. This green tea is blended with lavender and blue butterfly flower for a tea that's as pretty as it is delicious. Make it an even more dynamic duo by looking for Beaujolais from the small village of Fleurie -- the name will appear on the front label -- where the wines are known to have a signature floral perfume.

If you like buttery chardonnay ...

A buttery tea may sound odd at first, but they've become some of my favorites. Look for oolong teas like Tieguanyin. It's light yet rich and round, just like the best chardonnays. Its name is derived from an ancient Chinese god of mercy, and it's the next best thing to a glass of white Burgundy.

If you're in the mood for zippy sauvignon blanc ...

White teas are among the most delicate type of tea, but there's no missing the citrusy notes of Abbi's Grapefruit Nectarine blend. With its beachy, Mediterranean-inspired palate, it's the perfect foil to the bright and herbaceous sauvignon blanc, especially the wines from the Marlborough region of the South Island of New Zealand.

As always, you can see what I'm drinking on Instagram at @sethebarlow and send your wine questions and quibbles to

  photo  Wanting to take a break from wine? Try tea. The two beverages share remarkably similar flavor profiles. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)


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