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Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Sudoku posted:

I wonder if microwaving water would help get it to the right temperature for greens/white teas easier? A bit of patience with a thermometer and surely you'd eventually figure out how many minutes/second it takes to get it to X degrees. Write the time down and there you go.

I think you'd have a tough time getting a consistent temperature for a given time due to stuff like hotspots in microwaves. I guess if you always measured out exactly the same amount of water and always nuked it in the same spot you could get pretty good results.

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Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Milky oolongs can be really good. Taiwanese oolongs are some of my favorite teas, especially the lighter styles. Too bad they're so damned expensive.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Yeah, I pretty much always steep my black teas at least twice, usually thrice (combining the second and third steeps usually makes it come out more balanced and complex than drinking either alone). Just make sure you steep it longer for your second steep and probably with less water, to make it more concentrated.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Have you considered chicory or dandelion "coffee"? Deep roasty flavor and healthy to boot.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



My rule of thumb is add on 50% of my previous steep time. So it might go something like 4 minutes, 6 minutes, 9 minutes. But yeah, that's just a rough ballpark to get me started. I usually fine-tune it from there.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



I have this one from Upton and it works well for me, though the actual temps at specific places on the dial were different from what the manual says. Just had to figure out what temperature was where with a thermometer.

I've seen others recommend this Pino digital kettle, though it's a little over your budget. Supposedly fairly accurate though.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Hummingbirds posted:

Wonder if catnip would work, as that's the only plant in the mint family I've ever had success in growing.

Very different flavor profile but yeah it'd probably still be nice. Catnip makes a very mild infusion that's good for settling digestive distress and has very mild sedative properties.

In other tea news, a Taiwanese guy I work with gave me a package of this high mountain oolong. It's got to be one of my favorite teas I've tasted in quite some time. Fragrant aroma with sweet vegetal and floral notes typical of such teas. Rich, creamy taste with, again, striking sweet floral notes, very clean profile. Just really pleasant all-around and hits pretty much all the points I like in high-grown lighter oolongs. The tea consists of tightly rolled pairs of leaves, just like in the pictures Death Vomit Wizard posted.

Thoht fucked around with this message at Jan 19, 2012 around 05:09

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Holy poo poo...that place is rad as gently caress.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



You can get one of those bigger drop-in infusers, like people use with mugs, or you can just strain it when you pour it. The upside to the drop-in infuser is that you can halt the infusion process while still keeping the brewed tea in the pot, assuming you don't want to drink it all at once.

dik-dik: I would actually suggest giving a little higher temperature a shot, like maybe 190F or so, if it's coming out tasting too much like the sea. I find that the lower temperature you go with greens, the more it tends to emphasize and bring out umami flavors, which while some find very desirable, I'm not a giant fan of. The higher the temperature, the more it brings out the floral, fruity, and herbal notes. Too high and it starts to taste flat and astringent. Also, I can't recall, is it a Japanese green? In my experience they have a way more brothy/sea taste than other greens generally do. You could try a China green, especially a Yunnan (my favorite) or a Longjing.

Thoht fucked around with this message at Jan 19, 2012 around 16:56

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Gunpowder green, probably, if the article is accurate, from Zhejiang province in China. They tend to have a fairly generic green tea taste to them, mostly vegetal, with sometimes a certain amount of smokiness as well. I was a bit surprised myself to hear of a seaweedy taste in it, given that that's a flavor I've only ever really encountered in Japanese greens myself, but everyone's nose/tongue is different I guess. Regardless, bottom line is that whatever temperature/time they're using right now is producing an unsatisfactory infusion and they should play around with both. It could be that no combination will produce something you (dik-dik) like, due to it being a crappy batch (I have occasionally gotten some stinkers from Upton where it was great before) or just not liking that particular tea. You'll never know until you try.

That's something I wish more people would get. Forget dogma about what temperatures and times the holy tea sages of the internet tell you certain teas should be brewed at and in what manner. Try a range and find what makes the best tea to your tastes.

Thoht fucked around with this message at Jan 20, 2012 around 05:21

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Pour hot water into your brewing vessel without any tea and let it sit for a while so that it warms up. Dump the water out after a bit and brew as normal. This prevents the vessel sucking up a bunch of the heat from the water you use to brew with.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



If you want it fairly light, steep in water and then add milk/sweetener to taste. If you want it richer and spicier, combine tea and sweetener with water in a saucepan, simmer until it's reduced to a small amount of liquid, maybe a couple tablespoons. Remove from heat and add a cup (or however much you want to drink) of milk. Return to heat, bring to a simmer, cover and remove from heat, allowing it to steep an additional 5-8 minutes. Strain and serve. It's extra work but way richer than any other chai preparation you'll taste.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



You know, I bet a french press would mix matcha up really well. I know from experience they froth milk and milk based stuff amazingly well. Put some hot chocolate in one, run the press up and down a bunch, and prepare to have your mind blown at how easily you just got perfect velvety foam at home, no steam wand needed.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



It's delicious. You know how lots of herbs smell sweet and wonderful and then if you take a bite it's really intense, kind of bitter, and not sweet at all? Anise hyssop is actually sweet tasting. It has a really lovely licoricey-fruity taste. Jerry Traunfeld talks about it in both the Herbfarm Cookbook and The Herbal Kitchen iirc.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Yeah, they assume it'll drop. Preheating whatever you're brewing in is a good idea though.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



From Upton, for a darker oolong I like their Formosa Amber Oolong. For a lighter style, try either the Tung-ting Classic or Formosa Pouchong.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



I wouldn't call the prices a deal by any stretch but they're certainly not outrageous either. I'd say average to slightly above average. Obviously though you're not getting just the tea out of it. You're paying for someone to do the work of curating the selection and give you the stories behind the teas etc. So if you're not that experienced with tea you could do worse. You could also get a ton of samples from Upton for really cheap but I know their catalog can be pretty daunting.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



I'm actually of the opinion that a lot of teas stand to improve with a touch of sweetening. The trick is to put in just enough to where it doesn't actually taste sweet but brings out a lot of the flavor notes that would be muted otherwise. It's like salt in cooking.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



There's some pretty high-end Chinese greens too which, honestly, I prefer to Japanese ones. Try a nice Yunnan, Longjing (sometimes called dragon well), or Chunmee some time.

E: also, if you like lighter greener tees, you should try some of the lightest Taiwanese oolongs which kind of blur the line between green and oolong. Beware though, good Formosa oolong can be an expensive addiction indeed.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



The right length of time is the one that makes it taste better to you. Period. The asterisk here is that the shorter the steep time, the more steeps you can get out of it. You're extracting less compounds per steep so there's more leftover for subsequent ones. Since you're extracting less compounds you generally want a smaller volume of water to concentrate the subtle flavor. Hence, in Gongfu tea ceremony the individual cups of tea from each steep tend to be very very small and the amount of leaves used comparatively large. This kind of method is fun if you have a lot of time. If it's the morning and you just want a nice cup of tea to start your day then find the times that work best for 1-2 steeps.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



You could also just microwave the milk and let the tea steep in it if you don't want to worry about burning the bottom. If you want a frothy texture like they get from steaming milk on espresso machines, there's a couple things you could do too once you've strained it. If you've got a french press, put the strained chai in there and just push the plunger up and down repeatedly. It'll froth up like crazy with super velvety foam. Barring that, you can pour it into like a nalgene or other liquid container with a very secure lid (you don't want hot liquid exploding everywhere) and shake the hell out of it.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Ugh, I have to confess that I really don't like lapsang. I've tried three different varieties with different levels of smokiness and I just don't like to drink it. It is pretty cool to use in cooking though.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



I like peaty scotches I guess I am indeed broken.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Their oolong sampler is indeed a good place to start I think because it covers most of the spectrum of types of oolongs (as much as 4 teas can anyway). Once you've decided which of the general styles you like you can start getting deeper into it trying more varieties.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Ceylon's pretty classic for iced tea. You could give this one from Upton a go.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



The nice thing about Upton is you can order a bunch of samples for real cheap. The sampler sets they have are nice. You can also try sorting by bestsellers, staff favorites, or newest. If you want an easier answer though, why not get samples of some or all of the following:
Oolongs - Tieguanyin special grade, Da Hong Pao, and China Oolong Se Chung or just get Introduction to Oolong Teas
Chai - Hearthside Chai
Earl Grey - Original Earl Grey, Lavender Earl Grey
Black - Introduction to Fine Tea Sampler covers a nice range of different blacks

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Ceramic makes a better heat insulator than iron, all else being equal, but the fact that iron teapots in general have so much more mass to hold heat would almost certainly make them keep liquid hot for longer. It also means you really need to thoroughly preheat it to get it up to temp in the first place. They recommend that you don't heat water in them directly on the stove so that you don't risk damaging the finish on the outside or, if it has one, the enamel coating on the inside. Do you want one just to keep the tea you're drinking warm for longer?

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Tenderloin posted:

Has anyone ever used these: http://eng.hsuginseng.com/product/list/120584873.htm? Looking to get into matcha, but would potentially drink it on the go and carrying a whisk with me doesn't always seem practical.

Are you drinking the matcha hot or cold? If it's hot, the pop top on that will explode open and shower you with hot liquid. I know this from experience. If you just take a regular thermos or nalgene with a screw on top and shake it really well it should foam up just fine. Alternatively, you could get a portable french press. You can use one to make things foam by simply ramming the plunger up and down repeatedly. Works fine for matcha and works amazingly well for anything with milk in it, hot or cold. Only problem with that is that you'd have to figure out somewhere to put the lid while drinking from it or bring another cup to pour off into.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Well, if you're adding milk, you shouldn't have to worry too much about bitterness from boiling the green tea. You can always just try a steep at ~180F though. Just a note too, traditionally you would boil Moroccan mint tea, so it's not like boiling green teas is some completely unheard of thing.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Kind of a broken record reply, but it wouldn't hurt to get some Upton samples, they have a few China TGYs atm as well as a heavy-roasted one from Taiwan. The Silk Road prices seem pretty reasonable to me. Not having tried Verdant's tea before, I can't claim any certainty, but my guess would be they're just pricing with a higher markup on the same grades of tea because they can get away with it or for whatever reason can't get as good a deal on it in bulk themselves. But yeah, just guessing there.

Thoht fucked around with this message at Oct 31, 2013 around 02:41

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



The Rev posted:

Veteran Tea Goons,

After reading the OP, and a few of the past pages I have some beginner questions for you. Apologies if these are common questions.

To start, I enjoy tea but I admit I was very late to the game, and my experience with tea is near nil. I am talking nothing but tea bags from the supermarket (Bigelow) and from my office (Lipton, Tea Republic). The thing is, I actually enjoy the bagged Earl Grey and English Breakfast from Bigelow. I was also given a gift set of tea from Trader Joes from my boss, where I enjoyed their green tea, as well as assam (I forget the actual names of them). Iíve purchased the Chai tea from the goon who sells it, and that is also good, albeit much different than normal tea (sugar, milk, burning the hell out of it, etc). A co-worker has about 10 different tins of tea from Tea Republic that I have tried. They all tasteÖĒfake/processedĒ to me (which they very well may be).

I am ready to move beyond pre-bagged tea when I have the ability to do so, but all the talk of this and that is intimidating! I'd like to start with a safe budget at first, say $50 tops, but I am more than willing to spend more for quality if I find that I enjoy this whole non-bagged tea leaf thing.

Iíve got a generic tea pot (typical metal) at homeÖ it boils water. Iím not sure what else it really needs to do for me. Iíve also got two generic metal tea strainers (looks like a wire mesh ball that clamps shut). It looks like an electronic tea kettle is a must from reading a few posts, but I have no idea about any of the other things people talk about (infuser, tumbler, etc).
I suppose my questions are:

1.Besides an electronic kettle, is there anything else that is mandatory or highly recommended? I drink tea when I am in the mood for it Ė I donít need it first thing in the morning, or precisely at a certain time.

2.When attempting loose leaf teas, is there any special instruction other than steep at x minutes at y temperature? Also, is it true you can reuse tea leaves more than once? If so, how do you go about saving your leaves for the next use?

3.At work we have a nice filtered hot water machine, it puts out 175-190 degree water, can I make loose leaf tea using this machine, or do I stick to bags?

4.Is there a good starter pack from one of the OPís websites that is often recommended? If it makes any difference, I would prefer to drink my tea plain, no added liquids/sugar/honey/etc. (I do enjoy the Chai, but I see that as more of a dessert-ish drink) I am more in the market for drink at work/with lunch/with dinner types of tea. For bagged tea, I have enjoyed black and green teas, but I am up to try just about anything you can recommend.

Sorry for the long post, I am excited for better tea. Thank you, Goons!

1. The electric kettle's nice if you want to do non-black teas as well and it's just convenient to boot but I wouldn't call it mandatory. I'd definitely get some brewing setup that gives the leaves more room than those tea balls. You can do a mug with one of those cylindrical looking filters in it, a small teapot with the same, a tea tumbler, or a gaiwan. Whichever you think will be better suited for your style.

2. Not really, other than maybe weighing out the leaves for consistency (some leaf styles are way lighter than others). You can indeed resteep leaves. When people talk about this though they usually mean brewing another cup(s) during the same tea drinking session or some time later the same day. I just leave the tea leaves in my brewing vessel until I'm done with them but if you're really worried that bitterness might occur you can always pull them out with your filter or whatever.

3. You can make loose leaf tea with it the same as you would bagged tea. That temperature will be better suited to greens/oolongs/whites than it will to black tea though. Try it with blacks anyway, if you like the result then there's nothing wrong.

4. I'll go ahead and pimp Upton Tea, as is my habit, saying that the samplers there are nice introductions to various styles. Note that the one called "Introduction to Fine Tea" is really an introduction to nice black teas. You could get that one plus either the green tea or oolong sampler and that'd be a good place to start, imo.

Edit: Just a little additional note too: tea's cool and fun and you can get really really into it, but if the whole thing starts to feel a little overwhelming just remember that at the end of the day it's just steeping leaves in hot water to get something tasty and stimulating to drink. Don't stress it too hard.

Thoht fucked around with this message at Jan 7, 2014 around 19:05

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



For tea at work I would either do a mug with a basket strainer and a little saucer to rest the wet strainer on or a tea tumbler.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Entenzahn posted:

I'm about to finally return my Morphy Richards machine and replace it with a standard pot/kettle combo. To that end I still have a few questions:

Is there anything specific I should look for in a kettle? I'll probably try to get one where I can set a target temp, but anything else?
Same for the pot. Will any old pot do? Is there any advantage to brewing tea in a pot vs. directly in the mug? (Other than the larger quantities)
Finally, I noticed that my hot water loses a lot of temperature when I pour it. How do you guys deal with that? I usually pour some of my heated water, then toss that away and refill the warmed cup with more hot water. But that seems kinda wasteful, especially when you brew in a bigger pot.

Yeah, just get whichever pot/kettle suit your fancy. No advantage to brewing in a pot vs mug (except yeah, larger quantity). If you're only brewing a cup for yourself I would actually give the nod to the mug being better.

Definitely preheat your brewing vessel. If tossing the water really bugs you, you could just pour it back into the kettle. Or save it to flush your toilet with or water plants, I dunno.

Edit: yeah I actually don't really like Upton's rooibos either, though I do like others. Their honeybush was pretty decent though.

Thoht fucked around with this message at Jan 21, 2014 around 17:58

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Totess posted:

I have a question about brewing. Some of my teas have specific temperatures on them that they need to be brewed at for a specific amount of time. However, I usually just put the kettle on and boil it until it turns itself off, because literally gently caress trying to use a thermometer for that. Does it really make that much of a difference? Also, is David's Tea better than Teavana tea? Thanks to anyone who might answer <3

Depends on the tea really. Some teas, greens especially, can be very finnicky about temperature and time. I've had some where I noticed differences with 5 degrees change in temperature or 10 seconds change in brew time.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



The Introduction to Fine Tea sampler set at Upton has a nice range in it of some of the classic black tea varieties (Darjeeling, Assam, Keemun, and Yunnan).

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



If you have a thermos with a screw on lid, you can shake it up in there to similar effect. If you have a french press (doesn't sound like you do) you can also put it in there with hot water and ram the filter up and down to make it frothy. Matcha's great for having a quick cup of iced green tea, too. You can just stir it right into some ice water and there ya go.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Oh man, I just got into this Four Seasons Oolong from Taiwan Tea Crafts and it's kind of blowing me away. Intensely floral aroma with notes of melon and vanilla, clean crisp taste, rich finish. If you dig more floral oolongs on the green side, this one was a knockout for me.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



Yamamotoyama organic green tea is fine for an affordable bagged tea. Tastes like what most people expect from green tea.

Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



I actually just recently got a sort of white/green tea from Yunnan Sourcing called Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle that's super sensitive to steeping time/temp. It's actually quite bitter at longer than a minute on the first steep. I've been going gong-fu style starting with about a 20 second first steep and slowly increasing from there.

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Thoht
Aug 3, 2006



That's cool, never seen an unsmoked one before.

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