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Best Way To Get Started with Good Tea AKA I Don't Know What I'm Doing...


Martin Fisher
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Best Way To Get Started with Good Tea AKA I Don't Know What I'm Doing...

Suggestions, Please!

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Well something got you on this track -what? Did you taste something of interest or read about a style? Its a rabbit hole as the culture has such longevity and culture. It first drew my attention reading Barbara Tropp's chapter on tea in her "The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking". I had NO idea of the subtleties and complexities. I din;t really explore much. Later fr whatever reason I got a packet of whole green tea leaves from a Pacific Islander/Japanese market. Played with that. After insipid green tea (bags) it was a revelation. Put it aside again and when I dropped off Christmas sweets to a Chinese born neighbor she walked back across the street and gave me a small container of a beautifully fragrant tea from Tea Habitat. The shop was a 3 minute walk from us but I didn't know about it. They held group tastings but by the time I got motivated she had closed. Her new shop is kinda far away. So now I am also in exploration mode again. Lots of info in this forum. Have fun with your tea journey   https://teahabitat.com/

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3 hours ago, Martin Fisher said:

Best Way To Get Started with Good Tea AKA I Don't Know What I'm Doing...

Suggestions, Please!

When you say good tea, do you mean tea that tastes good, or "fancy" type teas?--not to say that this can't be both lol.

 

I've hated hot tea my whole life.  HATED IT.  Somewhere I heard the most apt description ever "Tea tastes like a hot, wet brown paper bag" .

 

But, I've lately wanted something hot to drink in the mornings and the caffeine in coffee makes me feel icky sometimes so I turned to tea.

 

I actually like the fruit flavored Celestial Seasonings a lot. 

 

Favorite is tied between Blueberry and Mandarin Orange Spice.  But, also enjoy the Lemon Zinger..and the others listed are drinkable too.

 

I use two bags per mug and the largest setting on my Keurig coffee maker.

 

Disregard this post if you're looking for more high-brow suggestions 😁

Edited by Shelby (log)
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To get started get a wide sampling and taste your way through it. There is a LOT of "good tea" in the world. Pick a region and find somebody selling ~10g samples... Join a tea-of-the-month club... Adagio.com used to have one... maybe they still do. Yunnansourcing.com has fairly pricey monthly box subscription you can sign up for if you're feeling flush.  If not, poke around on Aliexpress for something like this set of tea samples.   You might want to grab a book like The Tea Lovers Treasury to get an idea about just how broad the range of options is.  Or watch the Mei Leaf videos on Youtube... 

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Agree on the brewing basket recommendation.  One of those will permit you to play with both traditional western pour-hot-water-over-a-teaspoonful-and-wait brewing as well as the chinese gong fu styles of brewing where you're only very briefly letting a lot of leaf encounter your much smaller volume of water.  Also a kettle with a variable set temperature will improve the experience greatly if you start experimenting with green teas.  Most of them are disgusting if brewed with boiling water, but delicious if brewed with water at 170F +/- 10.  

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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@cdh is a great resource.  He gave me some great advice early in my tea exploration days.

 

I have found I really enjoy various white teas - some of them have the most unreal floral aroma and tastes (and they are super healthy!)

 

The other thing to experiment with is the time you 'brew' your tea leaves for, traditionally in China they enjoy each various steep of the tea (as quick as 3-5 seconds!) for its own unique properties and at times can get 5+ servings out of a few grams of leaves!

 

Enjoy the rabbit hole.  It is a deep one.

 

Oh, and beware of Pu'erh - shit ran through me like a locomotive!

 

 

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On 4/18/2022 at 5:23 PM, cdh said:

If not, poke around on Aliexpress for something like this set of tea samples.

I ordered it!

Thanks!

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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58 minutes ago, Martin Fisher said:

I ordered it!

Thanks!

Hope you find something you enjoy.  There's plenty to try in there. Bookmark the page (or better yet save it in case it disappears) since it tells you which packet is which... and the packets are entirely in Chinese.  

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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And remember- green tea is vile if your water is north of 180F.  Start oolongs at 200 and vary up or down depending on how they are tasting.  Black teas at 205 to full boil.  White tea is very amenable to every temperature.

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Being an extremist...I've ordered 8 books! 😁

 

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Posted (edited)

Do you think this is a good choice?

Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp 1.7-Liter Cordless Electric Kettle

Edited by Martin Fisher (log)

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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@Martin FisherI have this one that I like a lot:

https://www.amazon.com/electric-gooseneck-kettle-temperature-control-electric-tea-kettle-gooseneck/dp/B06XPLM49J/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?keywords=electric+tea+kettle+temperature+control&qid=1651268306&sprefix=electric+tea+k%2Caps%2C77&sr=8-3-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyQUVaVllRSVU0TVZIJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDU0NzQ2QUlNMjlIMFg1QzYxJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA4MzEwNDZYUDZTT0hHMzE5RkEmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

 

I like its 180 setting for my green teas. For oolong, I do gong fu brewing - I uses a small cheap clay teapot I got in Chinatown - called a Yixin tea pot - you fill the pot about 1/4 of the way full with dry tea leaves and then do many short infusions.  First, you "rinse" the leaves by adding the hot water all the way to the top, count to 5, then drain and dump the tea water - its purpose is to mainly open up the leaves.  Then the first real infusion - I do 25 seconds - both of these at the 205 setting.  Then I turn it down to 200 for the rest of them. 35 seconds, then 50 seconds and a final steep at 1m10s.  Could I get more steepings?  Maybe, but if I did I'd probably be vibrating off the wall.  Many videos show gong fu brewing using a fancy wooden box, which are great, but expensive.  Personally, I put a rack on the bottom of my sink and just do that....

 

No photo description available.

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And maybe you need to start your journey w/o nerdong out and just see what direction your tastes want to go? Have you bought some tea to experiment wth and any vessels?

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16 minutes ago, heidih said:

And maybe you need to start your journey w/o nerdong out and just see what direction your tastes want to go? Have you bought some tea to experiment wth and any vessels?

 

So far, I have some tea samples on the way from China.

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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I've got one of these and am quite happy with it.   https://www.amazon.com/Chefman-Temperature-Control-Electric-Kettle/dp/B08G8WX93H?ref_=ast_sto_dp&th=1

 

Though, given the picture and write up I should clarify that I've _never_ dropped tea into the infuser basket in the kettle.  That is just asking for disgusting brown sludge buildup that you'll never get clean. 

Edited by cdh (log)
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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Another thought, remembering you're in NY.  A weekend in the Hudson Valley many years ago taught me the extent to which your water can affect your tea.   If your well water is full of minerals, some of them will interact with the tea flavors. I had brought along some of Ten Ren's fancier King's Tea that was delicious at home, and while there it brewed up disgusting.  Absolutely undrinkable.  So If you happen to run across a tea that is just not doing it for you, get some bottled water and try brewing with that and see if it is your taste buds, or suboptimal brewing materials.  

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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30 minutes ago, cdh said:

Another thought, remembering you're in NY.  A weekend in the Hudson Valley many years ago taught me the extent to which your water can affect your tea.   If your well water is full of minerals, some of them will interact with the tea flavors. I had brought along some of Ten Ren's fancier King's Tea that was delicious at home, and while there it brewed up disgusting.  Absolutely undrinkable.  So If you happen to run across a tea that is just not doing it for you, get some bottled water and try brewing with that and see if it is your taste buds, or suboptimal brewing materials.  

This.

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On 4/30/2022 at 10:30 AM, cdh said:

Another thought, remembering you're in NY.  A weekend in the Hudson Valley many years ago taught me the extent to which your water can affect your tea.   If your well water is full of minerals, some of them will interact with the tea flavors. I had brought along some of Ten Ren's fancier King's Tea that was delicious at home, and while there it brewed up disgusting.  Absolutely undrinkable.  So If you happen to run across a tea that is just not doing it for you, get some bottled water and try brewing with that and see if it is your taste buds, or suboptimal brewing materials.  

Yeah, I have a six-stage reverse osmosis water filtration system...it's just like good spring water.

One the subject of the kettle, I can just use my gooseneck pour-over kettle and a thermometer...I don't know what I was thinking!

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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