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I need to try to care more about tea


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#31 Chris Hennes

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 02:48 PM

I should clarify that I am not adverse to trying new things. I'm just not motivated to keep trying them over and over again.

I think this is probably simply a fundamental attitude difference between different sorts of people. I personally don't want there to be any broad category of food I don't like, so I actively seek to eradicate dislikes as I discover them. And I find eating more pleasurable if I can appreciate the food rather than just accepting it as "meh." I'd love to be able to appreciate tea, I just haven't taken the time to do it.

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#32 heidih

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 02:54 PM

There has been some good advice on getting started. Honestly I think one of the reasons I hesitated to learn more was that I read tea reviews and thought -huh? it reminds you of, tastes like???? But that is closed minded thinking, and I really want to open that part of my tasting mind.

#33 andiesenji

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 03:19 PM

There has been some good advice on getting started. Honestly I think one of the reasons I hesitated to learn more was that I read tea reviews and thought -huh? it reminds you of, tastes like???? But that is closed minded thinking, and I really want to open that part of my tasting mind.



I think you have hit on the exact thing that bothers a lot of people new to tea drinking when they read some of those tea reviews.

There are a few basic terms that anyone can understand and they have been used for generations, such as "malty" which I think goes back to the early 1800s.
Some oolongs do have a distinct flavor of peach some Indian teas taste a bit like chestnut and that too is a term that goes back a long way.

However, those highfalutin terms that some tea folks use are confusing, not to mention intimidating, and not all that informative to a novice. If someone has never tasted moscato, how can they determine that flavor in a tea? I don't understand some of the terms they use and I've been drinking tea all my life, beginning with "cambric" tea in the nursery.

If a tea tastes good to you, then you should enjoy it as you wish and to heck with anyone else.
I like some teas with milk and sugar, some with plain sugar or honey, some with lemon and some plain.

When someone begins telling me how I am supposed to drink my tea, I am on the way out the door.
And I like flavored teas, at which some tea fanciers turn their noses up.
If I want to drink my tea out of an old tin cup, that's my choice.
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#34 Will

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 05:14 PM

There are a few basic terms that anyone can understand and they have been used for generations, such as "malty" which I think goes back to the early 1800s.
Some oolongs do have a distinct flavor of peach some Indian teas taste a bit like chestnut and that too is a term that goes back a long way.

However, those highfalutin terms that some tea folks use are confusing, not to mention intimidating, and not all that informative to a novice. If someone has never tasted moscato, how can they determine that flavor in a tea? I don't understand some of the terms they use and I've been drinking tea all my life, beginning with "cambric" tea in the nursery.

I had never understood the taste of muscat, until I tried a (fresh) muscat grape -- since then, though, I can easily see how Darjeelings have a strong muscat flavor. And of course, most of us haven't spent much time tasting cat pee, road tar, or pencil lead... however, I have experienced tastes which these kind of silly terms help me put a name to. As with wine, some people can go a little overboard with these things, but they are useful to a limited extent, simply because they give people a (somewhat) standard language with which to describe their taste experience.

Of course, some of these things are culturally determined - with Chinese tea, people frequently use Chinese medincine, camphor, longyan, dried ume, etc. as taste descriptors, and often these aren't familiar reference points to non-Chinese. But even if you've never had the experience of trying these things, you quickly get a sense of what people mean when they describe a tea as tasting a particular way, and I think that's really more to the point.

I go back and forth - sometimes, I prefer to just keep it at the level of "I like this" or "I don't like this"; other times, I try not to be as judging ("good" vs. "bad"), but try to focus on the various tastes I'm experiencing... terms like the one you describe are, at the very least, a way to keep track of your sensory experience if you write down your thoughts on a particular tea (yes, this is a little obsessive, and I rarely do it when I'm sharing tea with friends, but I do find these little notes helpful, both to look back on, and as a way of focusing my thoughts about a given tea).

Tea is both interesting and intensely frustrating at times, because we have all the variables in individual taste, atmospheric conditions, etc. that people have with wine, but also, the nearly infinite possibilities that come from variable brewing (and, in some cases, storage) really makes the whole thing very complex. In other words, with tea, you have a lot of rope to hang yourself with, and while you can strive for consistency, you will probably find it hard to re-capture that perfect tea experience from last week.

Edited by Will, 27 April 2011 - 05:16 PM.


#35 Fat Guy

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 05:09 PM

It so happens that a friend works with Harney & Sons and has offered to make a connection. So I'm hoping to get down to the SoHo store one day soon for a tasting with one of the Harneys. I will of course report in full if and when that happens.

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#36 hathor

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 12:15 AM

It's a lovely store with good people.. you will enjoy.

#37 haresfur

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:27 AM

I'll suggest a contrary approach: if you don't relish the prospect of all that brewing hassle, find some more interesting tea bags. There are actually some teas that I (shame) like better in tea bags than loose. Rather than reverting to Lipton's, run through some small packs of different varieties. When you find something you want to come back to, then maybe try the loose leaf to compare. Then try to optimize the brewing parameters.
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#38 Fat Guy

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 03:34 AM

I don't know when my educational session will occur, but for now what I'm trying to do is make and drink a cup of tea every day. From the tea bags in my cabinet. I think this will help my palate become more aware of tea flavors.

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#39 andiesenji

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:57 AM

In my earlier post I should have posted the link to the site where you can join the Teamail discussion group which is an excellent resource for information.

There are many very knowledgeable members - John Harney is a long-time member, as are other owner/managers of commercial tea businesses.


There is also a very extensive list of tea shops all over the world. Not all the shops are still in business because these listings depend on updates by members, but corrections are made when the site owner is notified.


I joined in '98 and I get the Teamail messages via digest, in a group, rather than individual messages.


And there is also a Tea Blog that was begun in '07 and like my blog, does not have regular posts but the ones that are there are often very informative.
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#40 Will

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:23 AM

From the tea bags in my cabinet. I think this will help my palate become more aware of tea flavors.

Do you mean teabag teabags, and are you joking? Because I don't think you will develop much of an appreciation for tea drinking floor sweepings.

teachat.com is another good resource, if you haven't seen it.

#41 andiesenji

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:33 AM


From the tea bags in my cabinet. I think this will help my palate become more aware of tea flavors.

Do you mean teabag teabags, and are you joking? Because I don't think you will develop much of an appreciation for tea drinking floor sweepings.

teachat.com is another good resource, if you haven't seen it.



There are some very good teas in tea bags. They are not all "sweepings" - I have some from The Republic of Tea which are very good.
Amanzi produces tea bags with premium teas and there are several others.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#42 Fat Guy

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 08:17 AM

Look what I got:

P1020987.JPG

I'm busily reading through it in preparation for a tasting at Harney & Sons on Thursday.

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#43 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 12:12 PM

Excellent! Do you know what kind of teas you'll be tasting, so you can read up on the relevant chapters?

#44 Fat Guy

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 02:59 AM

Not a clue. I'll just have to read everything.

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#45 mig

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:52 PM

i had my virgin foray to the Harney flagship in Soho this weekend and was going to recommend that book - from the minute i picked it up, i imagined myself drinking my way through all the chapters, tea by tea.

the shop itself is utterly gorgeous, beautiful airy space, uncluttered (unlike English-style tea establishments) and full of light.

when i went in, i noodled around for a bit, then went straight to the back to the tea lounge, sat down and inquired if i could order some kind of tea tasting. the response was that they didn't do that, so i monopolized the server for 20 minutes trying to decide which tea to order and have them brew. i probably smelled 30 teas, much to my nose's confusion.

i also ordered a very good snack from their nicely-curated short menu.

having finished a small pot of something i liked but did not love, i went back into the main shop area and was dismayed to find that the staff at the LOOOONG tea bar offers (1) tastes of ANY of the hundred or so teas and (2) FLIGHTS of tea tastings, which was exactly what i wanted.

gee, thanks cafe folk!

so i tasted a bunch of things, bought two ounces of something i liked, and promised myself i'd go back next weekend.

#46 Fat Guy

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 04:01 PM

This afternoon at Harney & Sons was a pretty enlightening experience. I'll report more fully soon.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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#47 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 02:25 PM

Lots of good ideas here. Do tell about your tasting experience, Steven. Many of the best tea shops offer tea tasting, flights of tea, and tea appreciation classes. I think it's the best and easiest way to learn if someone wants to go beyond Lipton tea bags, but is overwhelmed with all the tea categories and selections - as well as the many way of brewing - available. Makes conquering the learning curve a much faster.

One can brew tea as simply or as complexly as you are inclined. If you just want to brew a cup a day that's as simple as it gets once you find a tea or teas you like. Just don't buy large quantities of any one single tea. While you are exploring, try very small quantities (1 - 2 ounces/25 - 50 g) of, say, three teas at a time. Or high quality tea bags. Otherwise you'll just add to the quantity of dead teas you already have.

My 2 cents.

#48 CKatCook

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 02:37 PM

To me once you start getting into tea, you really learn that it is a lot like fine wine. The different estates, brews, kinds and like wine the kind that is good is the kind you like and will drink.

I also happen to feel that some really good teas come in bags. A lot of my "every day tea" and what I call "work tea" comes in bag form. Easy to brew. Now when I am at home I break out all the stuff to brew up a pot. But I am a tea snob, I admit.

I think you have a fine book for getting into it. I know you will enjoy the adventure!
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#49 andiesenji

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 03:56 PM

To me once you start getting into tea, you really learn that it is a lot like fine wine. The different estates, brews, kinds and like wine the kind that is good is the kind you like and will drink.

I also happen to feel that some really good teas come in bags. A lot of my "every day tea" and what I call "work tea" comes in bag form. Easy to brew. Now when I am at home I break out all the stuff to brew up a pot. But I am a tea snob, I admit.

I think you have a fine book for getting into it. I know you will enjoy the adventure!



I agree completely. There are some excellent teas available bagged. Some are certainly superior to many loose teas.

The tea "pouches" in which Mighty Leaf offers most of their premium teas, are beautifully constructed - and are transparent so you can actually see the tea they contain.
The Organic Darjeeling Estate is to my taste, a superior Darjeeling - and it can be infused twice.

Adagio also offers their teas in teabags and they are the full leaf teas.

A step up from there are the teas offered in the pyramid-shaped silken tea infusers of Tea Forté which are pricy but are impressive when people see them for the first time. Oprah gushed about the infusers on one of her shows.
Their teas are also offered loose.

There are other tea merchants that offer teas in silk or nylon bags and I have tried some but can't find the links right now.
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#50 andiesenji

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 08:03 PM

I really do care about tea - it's not quite an obsession but is certainly a habit. :wub:

I have spent part of the day shifting my collection of teas into a temporary abode while I rearrange some shelves in the cabinet where they have been living.

Needless to day, I "discovered" some teas that have been languishing in the darker corners of the cabinet, some hiding behind larger containers. :hmmm:

All these contain tea or "tisanes" of various types.
I noted in an earlier post that I am somewhat partial to Republic of Tea and the top shelf holds 31 offerings from RoT, plus three tins of another brand.
Most on the second shelf are from Adagio.
The third shelf holds some of my own tea blends in the Cambro containers - and some miscellaneous teas, including several brands of bagged teas.
The bottom shelf also has some of my own blends and some more bagged teas.
tea cabinet.JPG

Contrary to some of the "tea gurus" who declare that tea loses much of its flavor with time, I have found that some teas taste better to me when they have been stored for a while. What seems a bit harsh in a new "flush" becomes much more mellow after several months or even a year.
I do store teas carefully, in a dry place that is not subject to excessive heat or cold.
The boxes with the bagged teas are usually in the large square Cambro containers with tightly sealing lids but those are currently in the dishwasher.

Should I start worrying that I have gone a bit too far? :unsure:
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#51 CKatCook

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 03:41 PM

I love tea forte's tea! The bags are very nice. I have the orange dulce from Mighty leaf and I do love how they have made their bags, the tea inside the bags look good as well.

Your tea closet looks like mine! :)
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#52 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 04:47 PM

Should I start worrying that I have gone a bit too far? :unsure:


Naah.

This is just the work collection

Posted Image
Tea at work ii by debunix, on Flickr

Haven't got a current photo of the home tea cabinet...

#53 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 08:53 PM

No pic, but I have two three-drawer storage chests full of black, Oolong and green teas; a dresser top covered with various size tin Chinese tea canisters of various teas; a few Chinese porcelain tea jars and three Yixing tea cannisters. Plus three cardboard boxes full of teas. I have not tried counting it, but I am sure it's over 100 different teas, probably closer to 150, mostly sample size to 2 ounces each.

But this can not possibly be of help to Steven or anyone else wanting to make friends with tea. Not everyone needs to be possessed to enjoy a cup of tea. Keep it simple and start small, go to tastings or a class or a good tea shop and ask for guidance. Learn to brew to your tastes.

#54 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 07:56 AM

I did start small, mostly 2 oz/50g or less of each tea at a time, and sometimes up to 4 oz/100g of teas I especially liked, participated in lots of tastings, and still rarely buy larger quantities except for the occasional full-sized cake of puerh, which are usually 300-400g apiece. I don't have very many of those--still well under a dozen. I do have a lot of teas around, because through reading, tasting, and brewing lots of teas, I've discovered that I like so many of them.

#55 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 12:29 PM

WC - Sure, I understand. I was addressing that comment in light of the fact that most members of the Society who drink tea (or would like to) drink one cup of tea (usually black) once a day - at most three times a day. Most will never get as tea geeky as you and I. So I really don't want to put off people who would get a good deal more tea pleasure by finding one, two or three quality teas that they can brew easily and quickly in a cup or teapot. Some few may want to explore further, but most will not. And that's fine.

#56 OliverB

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 03:03 PM

I have a whole drawer full of tea, plus a couple boxes. they make nice decorative items I guess, as I rarely ever make a cup :laugh:

I'm always inspired in stores with a good selection, oh, this one's gonna be nice late at night just before bed, that one after lunch, but then I either have coffee (or a beer at night) instead. Mainly since the process of making tea just bothers me somehow. Coffee? Throw ground (and yes, I buy it ground, Pete's Major Dickason Blend or what it's called) in the filter, pour in water, tun button, come back in 5. Tea? Get out electric kettle, fill, turn on, get cup, get tea bag (or leaves), fill with hot water, wait for specific amount of time, remove bag or strain. Just seems like sooo much more work :cool: )

And oddly, many teas give me a sour stomach. I actually grew up on tea for breakfast, but somehow it bothers me nowadays. As a teen I was big time into flavored teas (caramel vanilla anyone?), we had a tea store, everybody had their 'handmade' tea set and only made it in "the sock", not a tea egg or heaven forbid tea bags. That's the early 80es in Germany for ya ;-)

Still, that hot steaming cup late at night does sound nice..... One of these days I'll install an instant hot water dispenser in the kitchen. (and then probably end up making "soup" with Knorr cubes late at night instead of tea, but hey, I tried!)

ETA: W. Crank, just wondering, where do you keep your files? :raz:

Edited by OliverB, 31 May 2011 - 03:05 PM.

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#57 andiesenji

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 04:04 PM

I counted!
I have 94 different teas - although I do have multiples of some "varieties" they are from different "Estates" and have differing qualities.
I have several Assams: Dejoo 1st Flush FTGFOP, Toganagoan Estate 2nd Flush, Mangaiam BBOP, Borengajuli 2nd Flush FTGFOP, Digulturrung Estate TGFOP-1, Harmutty Estate "Golden Paw" 1st Flush SFTGFOP.
And some others that just are identified as "Assam" - all loose teas.

I really, really like Assams! :wub:

found another: Hazelbank FTGFOP1

Edited by andiesenji, 31 May 2011 - 04:18 PM.

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#58 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 04:10 PM

I happen to have 'inherited' an office with one very large and one medium file cabinet in addition to the desk drawers. So at the tea overflowed the middle desk drawers, I had an inspiration about a better use for that desk file drawer. No regrets.

I keep a lot of tea on hand but also go through it pretty quickly there because I prepare some several times a day and share quite a lot of it with colleagues who mostly use tea bags for their own occasional brewing, but are very happy to enjoy my loose teas too. Most seem quite content with the occasional cuppa of the good stuff, with no burning desire to care more about it, and that's ok with me. Sharing means I do get to enjoy more variety of tea than I could otherwise if buying strictly for me.

#59 andiesenji

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 04:26 PM

WC, you never know when it is going to "click" and become a habit. Or, an obsession.

For years one of my long-time friends worked within walking distance of Chado, often walking right past it.

After listening to me harp about tea and serving him and his partner tea whenever they visited, he finally wandered in to the tea shop and almost instantly became a fanatic. A few years later his partner joined in.

They have been to India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Japan and China, visiting the tea growing regions and are planning a trip to Africa late this fall.

They bought Bruce Richardson's Great Tea Rooms of America and are checking off each one on their "life list" as they visit them. They have also spent a total of three months in the UK going through the author's book Great Tea Rooms of Britain.

Edited by andiesenji, 31 May 2011 - 04:26 PM.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#60 Yajna Patni

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:00 AM

If a tea tastes good to you, then you should enjoy it as you wish and to heck with anyone else.
I like some teas with milk and sugar, some with plain sugar or honey, some with lemon and some plain.

When someone begins telling me how I am supposed to drink my tea, I am on the way out the door.
And I like flavored teas, at which some tea fanciers turn their noses up.
If I want to drink my tea out of an old tin cup, that's my choice.
[/quote]

Andi, I agree with you 100%. I think you just need to find what you like. Not every one likes the same thing, and not every one has the same time or desire. I was raised as a tea drinker, and my first cup of tea in the morning is my favorite part of my whole day. I tend to prefer black tea, and i like it with milk usually, except for a few oolongs. I do not have much money to spare on it, but for very little I can easily get delicious teas. Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian stores are great places to look.

I find like Andi says, tea keeps very well, and in this regard is much easier than coffee that needs to be ground fresh, what to speak of roasted freshly.
Don't be afraid. If you like it... it is good.