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New to Tea.


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19 replies to this topic

#1 Becca Porter

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:07 PM

This week I read Rebecca and watched the Goods Eats episode on tea. Between the two, I am seriously wanting to begin a daily tea ritual. I find the idea of 'afternoon tea' very smart.

I am generally a coffee drinker. I need the pick me up 3-4 times a day. I am a little sensitive to caffeine though. I find that my very strong cups in the afternoon make me too jittery.

I also get very hungry around 3-4. This makes it difficult to do all my cooking for supper. So...I would love the slow gentle lift of tea that Alton discussed. As well as a scone or cake to pick me up everyday.

I would love suggestions on tea pots, water kettles, as well as online sites to buy good loose leaf tea. Are cast iron pots like Staub the best? I am headed to the Austin/San Marcos area in a couple of weeks. I plan to go to the high tea at Keria Teas in Round Rock. I can't wait.

Thank you for any help.
-Becca
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#2 baroness

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:39 PM

:wub: I love tea; I drink it as my only caffeine source and, more importantly, for great pleasure!


Teapots -- I've tried and own many pots; my favorites are the Chinese terracotta ones with pottery infusers and the Japanese Bee House brand with stainless steel mesh infusers. There are knock-offs made of the Bee House pots--don't waste your money on these.


Tea kettle -- Buy one which you can get your hand into so it's easy to keep clean, glass or stainless steel (enameled or not).


Tea leaves -- Again, I've tried many online and in-person sources. Top choice is TeaSource. Their site has many educational articles, as well as myriad teas and teapots, including Bee House. Another favorite is Spotted Leopard Teas. Their "Out of Africa" blend is dessert in a cup. :wub:

#3 Becca Porter

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 05:15 PM

Baroness, I went and looked at the Bee House teapots at TeaSource. I really like them. The price is much better than the cast iron ones too. :biggrin:

I plan on getting all the right supplies in Texas. However, I just drank a lovely cup of Twinings Earl Grey with a butter/strawberry jam biscuit. I feel revived already...
-Becca
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#4 cdh

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 05:48 PM

There's a great big world of tea out there, so recommendations for equipment and suppliers should really be tailored toward what kinds of tea you like.

Sounds like British style black tea is your thing right now, so I'll point you in that direction:

If you like oil-scented teas like Earl Grey, don't get a bare clay or metal teapot, but rather glazed ceramic. That will resist absorbing flavor and making everything made in the pot taste of Earl Grey (or Lapsang, or Jasmine, any other strongly scented flavor). There's lots of folks out there who love Chatsford pots, though I've noticed that they can be very drippy pourers. I like to use a french press to make teas that I don't want affecting the vessel they're made in.

As to tea kettles, it again depends on what kind of tea you like... Black teas like water just off boiling, so it is purely an aesthetic choice of what you want to see on your stove... unless you want a British style electric kettle... and another aesthetic choice for you. If you think you'll get into green or oolong teas, then maybe an electric kettle that has an adjustment that allows you to set a target temp less than boiling would be a good thing to get.

For online tea sources, I've had excellent British blends and a great vanilla infused black from Tea Trader in Canada. Upton Tea is a fine and reliable source. Adagio Tea is an upstanding vendor of interesting black teas too. I've noticed that on old Philadelphia favorite, the House of Tea is doing online ordering now, and they've got a killer Earl Grey blend, and a generally excellent selection.
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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#5 Naftal

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 07:18 AM

Hello-First you might want to look into these websites.san shui teasandhou deandImperial teaand[URL=www.boulderteahouse.com]
Second, if you are interested in traditional Chinese utensils, you might look up (google)'gong fu cha'/'gungfu cha'. The websites mentioned above have info on this very interesting subject.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#6 Becca Porter

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 08:27 AM

I have been reading about matcha. I am definitely buying some so I can make the ice cream in The Perfect Scoop. I would like to get the proper spoon and whisk to try it prepared correctly. Thank you for the links.

My first tea order arrived yesterday. I just bought a few to last me until I get to Texas.

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-Becca
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#7 Naftal

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 08:57 AM

Hello- This is just my purely subjective opinion but...I never use milk when drinking chinese or japanese, teas but I always use milk when drinking indian or ceylonese teas. And I love Earl Grey.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)


#8 cdh

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 10:22 AM

When you try that White Peony, make sure to use water that is well shy of boiling. White and green teas don't play well with water hot enough to get the most out of black tea. Too-hot water will lead to bitterness and astringency in the more delicate teas. You're looking for water around 175F or less.
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

----- De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

#9 andiesenji

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 12:04 PM

I am also a tea fancier and like many types. My "favorites" change from year to year and season to season because tea itself changes. Like wine grapes, some seasons or "flushes" are better than others.

One can spend a lifetime tasting and studying teas and still have an adventure "discovering" something new.

I have been a member of TeaMail for many years and have learned a great deal over the years from both the experts and the newbies who post very helpful information.
The members are very friendly and unfailingly helpful.

The Cat-Tea corner site also has a vast directory of tea shops or tea rooms all over the world which is very helpful when trying to find a place where teas can be tasted locally. There is also an extensive list of online tea vendors and one can post a question about a vendor on TeaMail and get qualitative answers about their products and service.

Edited by andiesenji, 15 March 2008 - 12:11 PM.

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#10 jpr54_

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 04:14 PM

I also second teamail but in addition , group yahoo.food.drink.tea-
if you go to frequently asked questions there are hundreds of excellent links-

i have a jenaer glass teapo, a yixing teapot, several tea for ones and gaiwans

www.shanshuiteas.om
www.imperialtea.com
www.specialteapots.com
www.houdeasianarts.com

#11 DeVeaux

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 11:21 AM

Becca-

Find a British import store/website (I go to Brit's in Lawrence, KS near where I live, but they also have a website). Get a box of PG Tips, the #1 tea in the U.K.. Put 3-4 bags in a ceramic teapot, add boiling water, and see what real tea tastes like. I don't drink coffee, just tea, and grew up on the Canadian border where they knew real tea from the rubbish American tea companies like Lipton sell. Ty-Phoo is also good if you can't find PG.
"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

#12 LuckyGirl

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 10:33 AM

Hello- This is just my purely subjective opinion but...I never use milk when drinking chinese or japanese, teas but I always use milk when drinking indian or ceylonese teas. And I love Earl Grey.


I never use milk in green tea either but I do like a splash in my oolongs. I drink oolong in place of a "regular" black tea because of the lower caffeine content and gentler flavor but I treat it like a black tea i.e. I use a little honey and milk in it.

#13 LuckyGirl

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 10:40 AM

I have just started to really get in to teas and stumbled across the website "Ten Ren". I like their website because of the large variety of teas they offer, the way the teas are catoagorized, divided and sub-divided and most importantly, the despriptions of each tea plus the opportunity to purchase in 3 oz. sample portions.

I found the Ten Ren descriptions of each tea far more informative than the other sites I checked out and the way the teas are catagorized and sub-divided makes it much less confusing for me than some sites.

Additionally, when I called the HQ in San Fran, the person I spoke with couldn't have been more helpful and unrushed in answering my questions and helping me with selections.

All that and I found their prices to be competitive when I compared specific teas with other sites although I would be willing to pay more because I like their site and service so much.

I placed my order Thursday afternoon and it was delivered Saturday morning. The 3 oz. samples are all well labeled and nicely packaged as were the other teas I ordered.

#14 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 11:02 PM

Welcome, LuckyGirl!

As you explore more internet tea merchants, you will find that many offer 1 or 2 ounce samples, which gives us even more opportunities for learning about and enjoying more teas, as well as trying some more expensive ones that we might not otherwise try.

You'll probably also find that the more you know about tea the more difficult it is to have any confidence at all that you can compare teas and tea prices between internet tea merchants by reading their sites.

And I think you are right that tea merchants sites vary widely in terms of how much information they provide, the quality of that information and how they organize it. As you say, the way a site is organized may be less important before long.

Have fun with it!

#15 LuckyGirl

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 05:44 AM

Thanks, Richard. I am having fun trying many new teas. It is a whole new world!

#16 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 07:41 AM

You may also find this tea topic of interest: Tea 101.

#17 LuckyGirl

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 10:44 AM

You may also find this tea topic of interest: Tea 101.


Thanks, Richard. I have been reading through the two pinned topics but I hadn't come accross this thread. I had a few questions to post today but I will wait until I read the thread as perhaps it will answer some of my ?'s.

#18 Doc

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 12:17 PM

Hi Becca,
I've enjoyed various teas for over 30 years, first being introduced to Japanese green tea whilst studying martial arts. I usually bring green tea from Japan back with me for a "stash". Other varities I get from some of the purveyors previously listed. However, particularly in the evenings, I prefer a non-caffeine containing blend. For blends of really good herbal teas try Mysticthyme at Mystic thyme. As for pots, I have a cast iron chinese style that is wonderful, as it holds the heat. Just make sure it5 comes with a straining bucket for ease of preparation and clean-up.

Edited by Doc, 19 October 2009 - 12:18 PM.

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#19 LuckyGirl

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 04:21 PM

So, here is a question I have with regards to tasting-

In tea tasting does the word "astringent" refer to what I am used to calling "tannins" in wine?

Also, I had my first pu ehr tea this past weekend at this teahousein Washington D.C. I understand that pu ehrs are aged, the one I had was listed as a ten year, but are they supposed to be musty tasting?

#20 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 08:10 PM

Astringent refers to a drying pucker at the front of the mouth.

When you find a pu-erh to be musty, it probably means that it was "wet stored", that it stored in a too humid environment.