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Author Topic: Let's talk TEA  (Read 5414 times)

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Poncho

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Let's talk TEA
« on: October 14, 2009, 09:01:58 PM »

I often enjoy a nice "cuppa" in the evenings as I'm unwinding.  This has been my practice for the better part of 15 years.  Not every night as it once was... but a few nights a week.  My wife often joins me.  

I won't pretend to be to tea knowledge what Dan is to sassy, sexy men's clothing... but since we have some folks around here who know their way around a kettle, I figured I'd talk about expanding my horizons.

I know that Luzianne, Tetley and Lipton are made from the scraps of real tea.  I use those for iced tea, which I drink a lot of.  I do not brew my evening tea with them, because I don't really enjoy it.  I'm not sure about the other teas I drink.  I know the fannings are the scraps and that orange pekoe isn't a flavor but a grade of leaves.  I think it's just a few steps up?

My pantry normally contained (I prefer Bigelow, my wife Celestial Seasonings) in tea bags:

Mint Medley (B)
Earl Grey (B)
Earl Grey Green (B)
Green Tea with Mint (B)
Peppermint (CS)
Wild Berry Zinger (CS)


I own a couple of tea strainers and actually had some St. James Teas in loose leaf:

English Breakfast
London Tea
English Afternoon Tea


A friend just got back from London and brought me some Whittard of Chelsea bags of loose leaf that I haven't sampled yet:

Russian Caravan
Moroccan Mint


So a friend has a relative that worked in now defunct tea shack and sent me over several small bags of loose tea.  I don't know the grades but they seem to be flakes of loose leaves about 3/4 the size of hole punches.  They have no brand, but say they are "samples" from The Metropolitan Tea Company of Cheektowaga, NY.  I have:

Lapsang Souchong China Black Tea
Monk's Blend Black Tea
Blueberry Black Tea
Japan Sencha Green Tea
Peppermint Herbal
Peppermint + Caffeine
Raspberry Herbal
Spearmint Herbal
Earl Grey Cream
Wedding Tea
St. Paul's London Breakfast
Earl Gold Black Tea
Breakfast Americana
Chamomile Citrus Herbal




So... I'm pretty stacked with tea.  I think I have enough to drink a cuppa every night from here to eternity.  I just kinda wanted to open a thread to talk about tea.  What should I be looking for?  What should I be doing to take me from a n00b to l337 in tea drinking?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2009, 09:11:32 PM by Poncho »
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Kwyjibo

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2009, 10:27:09 PM »

I work with the owner of one of FG's competitor tea shops in the area.  He asked me once if I drank tea, and I said I did.  He then asked what kind.  He was less than amused when I said "Lipton".
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Doug

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2009, 08:02:48 AM »

Tazo Chai rocks my world.
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foolsgold

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2009, 08:51:51 AM »

I work with the owner of one of FG's competitor tea shops in the area. 

Which shop?  We're actually on pretty good terms with a couple other tea shops around town where we recommend them and they recommend us.  It's nice because we're pretty geographically spread out so it isn't as cut throat as it could be.

There is one place however...

I think there is too much of an emphasis on what tea you should be drinking.  When people at the tea house ask us that question (and it comes up a lot, actually) we compare it to wine.  Drink what you like, not what someone else says you should (snobbery is rampant in this industry.) 

A few years ago, a woman read an article about the smokey qualities of Russian tea and even though she doesn't like that flavor, she felt compelled to order it.  We brewed it, served it and Michelle watched as she cringed through each sip, forcing herself to enjoy it. 

Anyway, we generally use two primary vendors (Harney and Sons and Adagio) to stock the tea house and supplement that with teas we pick up when we travel.  We've been very pleased with their selection and quality and I think the public can order online (or *ahem* through a family owned tea shop).

If you have a sensitive palate, you should try to monitor the water temperature since that will affect how the tea steeps/tastes (especially on more delicate teas.)  Basically, full boil is good for black and oolongs, slow rolling boil (about 180F) is good for heartier greens/whites, and a very slow boil (160F) is what you want for delicate greens.  Probably more important than temperature, though is steeping time.  That does depend on the type of tea, but generally it is Green: 2-4 min, black/white/herbals: 4-5, Oolong 5-7.

One thing you might want to have fun trying, Poncho, is blending the loose teas.

Oh, and buy some of http://www.amazon.com/T-Sac-Tea-Filters-Size-1/dp/B0000CGQC1these to use steeping loose teas.  You won't get any floaty bits, it allows space for the leaves to move around and, if you compost, I hear they are lovely additions.
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Kwyjibo

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2009, 10:25:15 AM »

I work with the owner of one of FG's competitor tea shops in the area. 

Which shop?  We're actually on pretty good terms with a couple other tea shops around town where we recommend them and they recommend us.  It's nice because we're pretty geographically spread out so it isn't as cut throat as it could be.

There is one place however...

I'll send you a PM.  He's a nice guy though, so I doubt he's that guy.
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Dan

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2009, 01:38:14 PM »

I'm a fan of the Transportation Efficiency Act myself.
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c-lando

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2009, 03:45:52 PM »

For how long should one keep tea before it's considered old/stale/bad?
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Poncho

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2009, 03:59:04 PM »

See? This is the kinda stuff I need to know.

Thanks.  I'm learning stuff.
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va-vacious

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2009, 06:18:53 PM »

I like alot of black teas. I tend to let them steep too long, but I enjoy the overstrong flavor.  Weirdo.

and ditto to lando's question.
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Butter

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2009, 07:19:32 PM »

My pantry normally contained (I prefer Bigelow, my wife Celestial Seasonings) in tea bags:

Bigelow, a fine fine tea indeed!  Why, many a day I have enjoyed a lovely tea bag of Bigelow Tea purchased from my friendly neighborhood Kroger!  Yes, nothing tastes better than a lovely cup of Earl Grey... unless that cup of Earl Grey was a Bigelow Tea obtained from a certain grocery store that rhymes with "ogre". 

Celestial Seasonings, on the other hand, can die in a fire.
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Hell Toupee

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2009, 07:33:20 PM »

I'm terrible...

I just hit up Teavana for Peach White or some Gingerbread/Rooibos, and occasionally Green or Earl Grey.

I tend to steer toward fruitier blends though.
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foolsgold

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2009, 09:13:09 PM »

Storage is important to keeping tea fresh.  Keep it in a relatively airtight container out of the light.  Black generally keeps for a long time, but greens/herbals and oolongs are probably good for less than a year. 
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Cockney Rebel

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2009, 09:16:06 PM »

I don't like me none of them 'fancy teas'. Mrs Foolsgold & I often get 'into it' regarding my lack of finesse in these matters.

We only buy & drink Whittards English Breakfast Tea. MK doesn't care for a lot of caffeine so we twin one full-strength and one decaf bag in a pre-warmed teapot with boiling water poured over. Steep for 5 minutes, remove the bags, pour into cups pre-loaded with milk and/or sugar. Enjoy.
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Poncho

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2009, 10:04:26 PM »

I've never understood the milk/sugar thing.

A very small splash of honey and I'm good to go.
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MissKitty

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Re: Let's talk TEA
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2009, 11:17:23 AM »

Before I met CR I drank my tea with just a drop of honey for sweetness too, but now I love having a spash of milk and a sugar cube in my tea - but only black teas. Personally I don't think green or white teas need sugar or milk.

When I was an exchange student in Japan I really got hooked on green tea and one of my host mothers gave me a large canister of loose leaf green tea as a parting gift. I have never drank green tea in the states that was 1/2 as good as that canister of tea she gave me. What I wouldn't give for another tin of it!

As far as flavored teas, I love Traditional Medicinals' Throat Coat tea, which has slippery elm and liquorice in it. I only ever drink it when I have a sore throat, but man that stuff is fantastic.
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