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halloweencat

making loose tea in a pot 101 -- need a primer

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I wonder if I'm the only one who does this? With my green teas (hoji, sencha and genmai) I've noticed that the first brew is sort of bitter tasting. What I normally do is heat up enough water for two batches of tea and I'll toss the first brew and drink the second brew. I've found that it tastes a bit mellower and smoother and less tannic.


Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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---- I'll toss the first brew and drink the second brew. I've found that it tastes a bit mellower and smoother and less tannic.

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I was raised very very firmly in the milk-first tradition. Strong Indian black or (weirdly?) Earl Grey, sugar optional but looked down upon. Usually mugs, with occasional forays into china cups by the more aspirational types. Lemon, never. That seems to nicely reflect my family's working-class origins and migration into the academic and arts bit of the middle-classes.


"went together easy, but I did not like the taste of the bacon and orange tang together"

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I don't know when the idea that milk in first was lower class evolved, but it certainly wasn't during Victorian times.

My great grandmother was as aristocratic as any English gentlewoman of the Victorian era and she had her heated milk in a special little pitcher and it always went into the cups first and then the tea was added, then one added their own sugar. I always thought it was to prevent heat shock from the eggshell-thin porcelain cups because sometimes the men would drink their tea without milk and they had their own cups which were larger and thicker. Of course this was at breakfast or early morning. Afternoon tea was always served in the fine china cups and with milk because my great grandmother "poured" and everyone was served the same.


"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

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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There's no vexed question at all.  Tea with milk or sugar is simply an abomination & not to be discussed further.  :raz:

I'm quite certain that when Arthur Dent was talking about "a cup of tea" it had milk and perhaps sugar in it.

-mjr


�As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.� - Ernest Hemingway, in �A Moveable Feast�

Brooklyn, NY, USA

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There's no vexed question at all.  Tea with milk or sugar is simply an abomination & not to be discussed further.   :raz:

I'm quite certain that when Arthur Dent was talking about "a cup of tea" it had milk and perhaps sugar in it.

-mjr

Probably so. It's the underlying heart of the dedicated tea-drinker, however diluted & sweetened, that I still admire in Arthur.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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halloweencat, Alton Brown did a Good Eats episode that's all about how to brew a great cup of tea ("True Brew II") which you may find useful. The transcript is at the Good Eats Fan Page (click on the subject index link on the left-hand side and then scroll down to the Tea topic). Cheers!


Erin

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ooooo! i'll check it out... thanks edemuth. :)

btw, i'm just getting over being sick -- we have not yet mentioned how wonderful honey is in tea, but i assure you, after the past 10 days, i can ardently attest to it.

cheers :)

hc

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I have long lost my citation for this (I wrote my PhD thesis on c19 English fiction and working-class culture) but putting the milk in first is traditionally a working-class thing. Wealthy Victorians put cream in their tea. Putting milk in the cup first was supposed to make it taste richer and thus more like cream for those who couldn't afford the additional expense. See, for example, the scene in _Gosford Park_ when the bumbling, lower middle-class police inspector (Stephen Fry) pours tea for the lady of the house (Kristen Scott Thomas): he puts the milk in first, she winces, and he makes a lame, flustered excuse about his wife's obsession with germs and such. He then pours her a new cup.

Andiesenji, perhaps your great-grandmother simply preferred the taste of milk-in-first over cream?

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in the bbc series "the duchess of duke street" (the central character is working class who climbs the social ladder via her extraordinary cooking skills) a recurrant theme is that "the duchess" (the working class character) has achieved incredible success, but never forgets where she comes from, and refuses to alter her coarse accent or often stentorian tone. i have a strong recollection of her putting milk in first when serving tea.

i have a special fondness for food history, especially as it relates to how it defines us as classes, genders, etc. i would love to see a thread on egullet that takes a look at films in a historical cuisine context. interesting films to me in this vein are "babette's feast" and "vatel."

cheers :)

hc

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I have long lost my citation for this (I wrote my PhD thesis on c19 English fiction and working-class culture) but putting the milk in first is traditionally a working-class thing. Wealthy Victorians put cream in their tea. Putting milk in the cup first was supposed to make it taste richer and thus more like cream for those who couldn't afford the additional expense. See, for example, the scene in _Gosford Park_ when the bumbling, lower middle-class police inspector (Stephen Fry) pours tea for the lady of the house (Kristen Scott Thomas): he puts the milk in first, she winces, and he makes a lame, flustered excuse about his wife's obsession with germs and such. He then pours her a new cup.

Andiesenji, perhaps your great-grandmother simply preferred the taste of milk-in-first over cream?

What she used was actually very rich milk, mixed with cream from the Jersey cows on the farm.

The little pitcher with the "milk" was warmed in a water bath before being brought in on the tea tray. I don't believe she would have done anything considered rude or low class. She was presented at court when she was 17 just a few weeks prior to Prince Albert's death and was sitting for her portrait (Francis Grant) when Albert passed away and that was put on hold because of the national mourning period when such things were considered gauche with the Queen in mourning. I asked my aunt (age 99) and she says that many customs changed during and immediately after WWI. She was born in 1905 in England and certainly recalls that most of the family used cream or milk and it might have been put in the cup first or last, depending on the wishes of the person being served. She remembers it becoming a social note during the suffragette era.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"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

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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I make tea one cup at a time and only boil enough water for one cup. I used to make tea by the pot, but I found I didn't like it after it had sat for a while. I use an infuser and a mug and do not heat the mug before hand. I read somewhere that tea should be brewed at a temperature somewhere below boiling, and so when I use a mug that has not been heated, the water temp goes down a bit. My method is not ceremonious, but it does make good tea, if only for myself!

Generally I prefer Fancy Keemun, but I alternate with Roasted Green Tea and limit myself to one cup each morning. The Keemun tea brews in 3-4 minutes, but I brew the green tea 5-6 minutes. I never disturb or stir the leaves during brewing.

I think everyone discovers their own preferred method for brewing tea, and while I like the ceremony of the teapot, I find that I get better results brewing one cup at a time. I also prefer porcelain tea cups, but they lose the heat too fast, and so I generally drink from a mug.

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andiesenji wrote:

>>On one show, she hosted Helen Gustafson, who had just published The Agony of the Leaves

I really enjoyed Helen Gustafson's books, and heard that she was quite a character. I regret never getting to meet her before she passed away this past year or so. The Agony of the Leaves really describes the problem of trying to do tea well in a restaurant setting, even if it's Alice Waters' restaurant, and quality is imperative.

To HalloweenCat's question, at one time I relied upon the the 2-pot method, which works great, but takes up valuable counterspace, but I now use the Teeli type mesh filters, using the large teapot size for most vessels to give maximum unfolding room. I use more leaf than most folks, especially for short infusions of green teas, so there's a tradeoff, but I'm pretty satisfied with the results.

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hi this is my first post in the coffee and tea forum

so forgive me if the question i am about to ask has been asked a thousand times.

( i did do a search but you know how bad teh search engine is :sad: )

Ok a friend has bought me a nice big bag of osmanthus tea :laugh:

now i live in london and there are no source of mountain spring water in my locality

so i was thinking of using bottled mineral water , decadent i know :raz:

but the tea demands that i give it the due love and respect it deserves.

So my question

what brand of mineral water would be the best to make this tea?

volvic? evian? voss?

i will be conducting experiments on this myself but wanted to see if there are any preferences amongst you.

thanks


"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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i would try not to use mineral water but filtered water-

poland spring-not sure of names of british/european brand

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Another beginner with a question here. The only tea I've had so far is 'chai,' which involves (at least in my experience) boiling water along with spices, adding tea leaves to the boiling water, waiting a minute or two, and straining directly into cups to which hot milk is added later. There is no separate brewing vessel involved. However, procedures for preparing all other types of tea invariably mention a teapot (brewing vessel) as distinct from the teakettle (boiling vessel.) How come it isn't advisable to brew the tea in the same vessel as has been used to heat/boil the water while preparing most types of tea?


"I look around (the Amazon rainforest) and see a green wall. They (the Machiguenga Indians of Peru) look around and see a supermarket." -Austin Stevens

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How come it isn't advisable to brew the tea in the same vessel as has been used to heat/boil the water while preparing most types of tea?

if i understand your question, i think it's because when you are making the Chai you are boiling the leaves/spices directly in the water to incorporate the flavors. When you are making loose leaf tea, you boil the water first, then pour it into the warmed teapot with the leaves. this steeps the leaves. You do not boil the leaves in the water. depending on the kind of tea, you also do not always want to add boiling water to the leaves, but need to use water below the boiling point.

The recipe i have for making chai includes adding the milk to the boiling water/tea/spice mixture, in order to cook off some of the milk and concentrate the flavors. But i know there are many different chai recipes out there...

:smile:

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How come it isn't advisable to brew the tea in the same vessel as has been used to heat/boil the water while preparing most types of tea?

if i understand your question, i think it's because when you are making the Chai you are boiling the leaves/spices directly in the water to incorporate the flavors. When you are making loose leaf tea, you boil the water first, then pour it into the warmed teapot with the leaves. this steeps the leaves. You do not boil the leaves in the water. depending on the kind of tea, you also do not always want to add boiling water to the leaves, but need to use water below the boiling point.

The recipe i have for making chai includes adding the milk to the boiling water/tea/spice mixture, in order to cook off some of the milk and concentrate the flavors. But i know there are many different chai recipes out there...

:smile:

I appreciate your response, twiggles. I've been reading further and I understand that different types of tea (black, green etc.) should be steeped at different temperatures. I'm wondering why one cannot wait for the heated/boiled water to come to the right temperature by taking it off from the heat source, and then steep the tea leaves in this same vessel which had been used to heat the water. Or will the heat capacity of the heating vessel interfere with the process? In other words, is it necessary to have a teakettle as well as a teapot to prepare tea, or can one vessel serve the purpose of both? Also, what would that vessel be made of, ideally?

And yes, I've known chai recipes to vary by the household, sometimes even by the members of a household!


Edited by anchita (log)

"I look around (the Amazon rainforest) and see a green wall. They (the Machiguenga Indians of Peru) look around and see a supermarket." -Austin Stevens

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I appreciate your response, twiggles. I've been reading further and I understand that different types of tea (black, green etc.) should be steeped at different temperatures. I'm wondering why one cannot wait for the heated/boiled water to come to the right temperature by taking it off from the heat source, and then steep the tea leaves in this same vessel which had been used to heat the water. Or will the heat capacity of the heating vessel interfere with the process? In other words, is it necessary to have a teakettle as well as a teapot to prepare tea, or can one vessel serve the purpose of both? Also, what would that vessel be made of, ideally?

Well, I guess it depends on the heating vessel and how picky you are about tea.

Some water heating kettles don't have proper lids to open, only front spouts. The electric ones are often made out of plastic which will stain if you cooked tea in them. Typical tea brewing pots are made of pottery, which can't be heated.

Another factor to consider is temperature. When you turn off the heat on the stove, carryover is going to continue to raise the temperature for a few minutes. Depending on how picky you are about tea and the type you are brewing, this might ruin it for you.

Ideally, a tea brewing pot should be made out of something non-reactive, non-porous, and fairly insulating. The idea is for the tea to steep at a more or less constant temperature for the 3-5 minutes. Thin uninsulated metal is kind of bad for this.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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how long you brew black tea depends also on the kind of tea it is. most people will tell you that a delicate darjeeling should not be brewed for more than 3 minutes. blends with more ctc in them can go as high as 5.

no doubt

then there are the insane people who will tell you not to let the water boil too long as it affects the oxygen content or some such. ignore also people who worry about whether the milk goes into the cup first or the tea (my own preference anyway is for black tea with sugar).

I must respectfully disagree about the water bit here, if only on the strength of the authorities I've read, especially the above-mentioned Helen Gustafson (the "tea lady" at Chez Panisse--do not miss her book The Agony of the Leaves if you are serious about food, and you are an eGullet member so I know you are, and are at all interested in tea). She has a great chapter on trying to get the bussers at CP to boil water fresh for each pot and the solution that they came up with.

Also, as another member said, putting milk in first I believe was only to keep the cup from cracking, but maybe there is a flavor issue too. where's Harold McGee?

but there are no hard and fast rules as teas differ, as do individual tastes.

Once again Mongo, hugs and kisses :wub: , but I gotta disagree here too. There are hard and fast rules in cooking, within certain parameters that allow for individual taste. If I can shoot from the hip for a minute here, my guess is that one of the reasons that any great cuisine becomes great is it's refinement and subsequent excellence of technique, which is all about finding those rules (once again, within certain parameters, and always allowing for exceptions), whether in regards to methods, classic flavor combinations, etc. This is not a dig on you, just an expression of my ongoing frustration at those who claim that everything is subjective, especially when it comes to taste, and no objective criteria exist.... As far, by the way, as the milk and lemon question, from what I gather it is good for certain teas, and not others. I think that an Assam could do sometimes with milk, but I would probably not put it in a Darjeeling, etc. Best.


Frau Farbissma: "It's a television commercial! With this cartoon leprechaun! And all of these children are trying to chase him...Hey leprechaun! Leprechaun! We want to get your lucky charms! Haha! Oh, and there's all these little tiny bits of marshmallow just stuck right in the cereal so that when the kids eat them, they think, 'Oh this is candy! I'm having fun!'"

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There's no vexed question at all.  Tea with milk or sugar is simply an abomination & not to be discussed further.   :raz:

I'm quite certain that when Arthur Dent was talking about "a cup of tea" it had milk and perhaps sugar in it.

-mjr

Having just read Douglas Adams' little essay, Tea, in The Salmon of Doubt, I am now somewhat less inclined to agree that Arthur Dent used milk (& perhaps sugar). Of course it still depends on one's estimation of Dent 's tastes more than Adams'.

how long you brew black tea depends also on the kind of tea it is. most people will tell you that a delicate darjeeling should not be brewed for more than 3 minutes. blends with more ctc in them can go as high as 5.

This comment just caught my eye. I must respectfully disagree here too. Many people will tell you that, the more CTC leaves you have in a tea, the shorter you want to brew it, unless you like hyperacidic tea. (Which some folks do, I grant you.) I've also found some Darjeelings which come out better at 4-5 minutes.

I think the only hard & fast rule is to use the various guidelines here as starting points & find what works best for one's own taste for each individual tea. Which is basically what afn is saying above, now that I look at it.

. I'm wondering why one cannot wait for the heated/boiled water to come to the right temperature by taking it off from the heat source, and then steep the tea leaves in this same vessel which had been used to heat the water.

Two additional factors here:

Pouring the water over the leaves creates a swirling effect that allows them to expand rapidly and expose the maximum surface area to contact with the water while it's still at its hottest. This assures maximum flavor extraction. It's an essential part of the process.

After the tea leaves steep, a slight residue remains inside whatever vessel you use. It accumulates over time, to the point where it becomes visible & affects flavor. If you were to brew in your teakettle, you'd have to clean the kettle more often than you would if you use it only for boiling water. Of course, you have to clean your teapot periodically anyway, but if you use the kettle to boil water for any other purpose (e.g., making coffee for guests, pre-boiling water for cooking), then you'd have to clean it as often as a teapot.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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This comment just caught my eye.  I must respectfully disagree here too.  Many people will tell you that, the more CTC leaves you have in a tea, the shorter you want to brew it, unless you like hyperacidic tea.  (Which some folks do, I grant you.)  I've also found some Darjeelings which come out better at 4-5 minutes.

I think the only hard & fast rule is to use the various guidelines here as starting points & find what works best for one's own taste for each individual tea.  Which is basically what afn is saying above, now that I look at it.

With decent whole leaf chinese green tea (Dragonwell, Gunpowder...) I do not even strain the leaves out. In my big mug, I just cover a heaping teaspoon of tea with a pint of water. When the leaves float down to the bottom I know I can start drinking. If it gets too strong, I just add more hot water. If it is decent tea, it won't be too bitter or have many sticks.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I feel like I should know the answer to these questions; but, sadly my knowledge of the physics of these particular phenomena are lacking.

Over the years I have learned that microwaved water doesn't work well for tea, coffee, or instant espresso. However I have always wondered about these two things.

Why does water heated in the microwave foam when tea or other items are added to it?

Also, am I imagining things, or does water heated in a microwave seem to cool faster than water heated on a stove or in an electric pot?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Why does water heated in the microwave foam when tea or other items are added to it?

hot water only bubbles if it has a rough surface to form bubbles on.

if you have a very clean and smooth container and microwave water in it it will not bubble this is why it can be dangerous to boil water in a microwave as it can produce superheated water.

for more info

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/superheating.html.

it is your imagination about microwaved water cooling faster.

another reason why you may not want to steep tea in the heating container is that the heating source in the heating container itself will retain heat as such the temp of the water might not be uniform throughout the container. Maybe by pouring the hot water into another teapot you mix the water up and you might get a more uniform temperature in the liquid? :unsure: but if you take making tea that seriously i think you missing the enjoyment of tea n'est pas?

Second if you live in a hard water area your kettle will have limescale and as such that will also effect the taste and you will get bits of limescale in you cuppa.


"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Regarding steeping in your boiling pot:

Besides the above mentioned aspect of having to clean it (you really do have to clean it between pots as you don't want the residue to boil anymore than you want tea to, whereas your pot can be simply thoroughly rinsed) it's also about using the right tool for the job.

The pot that's for boiling is made for heat conductivity--a pot that heats quickly (watched or not) is a good thing. It's usually metal for stovetop use or (in my case) plastic and electric. They heat quickly and cool quickly too. Your pot for steeping and holding your tea will be (should be) made of bigger stuff--it's role is heat retention, and once scalded will hold temp a lot longer, cozed or not.

myers

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