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Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



I'd like to throw in a recommendation for the Camellia Sinensis tea house. Especially if you're Canadian, but they'll ship for free to the US too if you buy $50 worth of stuff. Good god is their Earl Grey ever good, blows away all of the ones I've had from Upton.

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Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Magicmat posted:

I would love to have the convenience of a coffee maker -- just wake up and there's a fresh kettle of hot tea waiting to drink and/or put in a thermos to go. Would also force me out of bed on time. I've looked at the TriniTEA and Breville automatic tea makers and they look cool, but are very expensive (especially the Breville -- $250!) I'm also worried that they'd have enough drawbacks (especially in terms of being hard to clean) that I wouldn't use it.

I actually have the Breville, and it was totally worth it for me. Coffee's hard on my stomach so I use it for automatic morning tea (and also all the drat time otherwise). It's really fast and the clean up is really easy actually - I've rarely had to do more than just dump the leaves and rinse everything. Only real drawbacks are a comically short cord, having to do at least around 2 cups at a time (unless you want to steep outside the machine), and uh... the holes might be a little large for teas with very fine leaves/fragments, but you can just stick a filter in the basket and the size is what makes stuff not get horribly stuck in it anyway.

But yeah, it's pretty expensive.

If you just want black tea in the morning, I used to do a slightly ghetto but fast method. Add your leaves to a mug, pour over with water, stick it in the microwave for... 2-2.5 minutes? (depends on your microwave, I'd test with a thermometer I guess). Let it steep a little (not as long as normal since the leaves were steeping while heating up), then put a tea seive over another mug and pour it in to drink.

Nothing wrong with microwaving tea water as far as I know. If you don't want to nuke it with your leaves you can do it separately. It's just not consistent enough for something you'd want to be brewed at a particular temperature. For that, I don't know, maybe some kind of fast variable kettle and a timer you can pay attention to if you want a more budget-friendly option.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Sep 26, 2011 around 01:59

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



On that shipping note, that's actually exactly why I use Upton Tea so much. Their shipping is always flat, I believe around 4 bucks to the US and around 9 bucks to Canada, whether you order $1 worth of tea or $100. They don't even care if you order a bunch of tin cases or something to the point that it runs them like 40 bucks to mail, they'll still ship it to you for that flat rate (don't be a dick and order just tins though).

I guess if you're in the US that's nothing to go crazy over, but in Canada the vast majority of tea sites (Adagio etc. included) will end up shafting you with a $20 priority shipping fee on even the tiniest sample.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



I'm actually on the minimize oxygen loss side of things and will not overheat water, but honestly it doesn't make much of a difference on the first go. The most important thing is to just use water that's as fresh and nice as you could get. Otherwise it's personal preference, babysitting a pot was easier for me than forgetting a timer (until I got tired of that and got something that acts as a very rapid variable temperature kettle).

You can go by the size and intensity of the bubbles in the water. 165-185F is the "crab eyes" range, where you get a bunch of tiny ones (like 1-3mm), and as you get in the 190-205F range these turn into the large "fish eyes" that are like 7 or 8 mm. This all sounds pretty vague, but with a bit of practice you can identify when it's in the range you like for a tea.

Speaking of gaiwan, you can find them cheaper on e-bay as well. Just don't get anything that looks like really thin porcelain (badly made examples of that will overheat and not insulate for crap + burn your fingers), or anything too large. Keep in mind that the kind of teas you drink in these can go to six rebrews and over, so 250ml is going to be way too much unless you're making it for a family.

I'm on the lookout for a nice, seethrough thick glass one. Glass is my favorite aesthetic because it lets you see everything whether it's open or not, and I tend to tell "doneness" by color anyway. They come in all sorts of materials though, even Yixing clay. Sometimes with tiny teacups for sharing/serving tastings/people who just don't like drinking from it.

There's also the good old "ghetto-gaiwan". Ceramic cup + upside down tea saucer.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Yeah letting the leaves sit out is fine as long as you use them up that day, though it is possible for them to go off since it is a hot and moist environment. I've tried sticking them in the fridge a couple times and the results were gross so I do not recommend it - if you have to fridge your tea, brew out your last brew(s) and stick those in there instead. You can then drink it cold or reheat it. It's not as good as fresh, but it's still no lipton teabag.

Otherwise though, tea is going to be the best as fresh as possible, so this is exactly why people use stuff like gaiwans for greens and oolongs. You just make a few tablespoons at a time and drink a total of two really good cups (or however much depending on how much/what you started with) by the time the leaves are spent. Super economical for the more expensive teas.

You can take that concept further and use a lot of leaves, little water, and lots of very small steeps (think 15-20 seconds, and a bit more on each subsequent rebrew) to get a delicious concentrated flavor. Sort of like little tea "shots". That is "gong fu" style tea. That's for stuff that doesn't get bitter/astringent/super vegetal when concentrated though, so you can't really do that with most blacks or some greens. But it's how you really get the most out of e.g. a fine oolong.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Oct 28, 2011 around 23:12

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



I highly recommend ordering some of Upton Tea's silver ziplock bags (they're under Accessories, in Storage -> Caddies, Tins, and Bags). The 125g bags are really big (about 5.5 inches wide, 7.5 inches to the zipper, and can bulk out to a diameter of about 2 inches at the middle); you probably don't need the 250gs unless you're storing some seriously bulk/bulky stuff. I ordered a hundred pack of the 125gs and it's more than enough for all my herbs, spices, teas and then some.

They're really cheap, really easy to store (put them anywhere, squish them, whatever), open and close easily, totally lightproof and pretty airtight. I don't know if the zip might wear out after a lot of use (hasn't happened to me yet), but they're dirt cheap so who cares.

Their steel tins are good stuff too, but you can probably find similar stuff at any online container store.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Yeah, that's... not supposed to happen. Could be steeping too hot/too long/both, could just be bad quality jasmine tea, because that stuff's supposed to be pretty light as far as flavored teas go.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Nah, it's pretty much the healthiest thing you could be drinking unless you've got some really obscure genetic liver problem that interacts with green tea, really overdo it on the caffeine (i.e. don't replace all of your water intake with strong tea), or drink very large quantities of sub-par leaves that have too much fluoride in them. There might also be a slightly increased risk of cancers from drinking smoked stuff or drinking... well, anything at super hot temperatures regularly, but that's not really significant either.

Edit: Oh yeah, it can make you piss more often due to the caffeine, but that's usually a neutral or good thing.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Nov 27, 2011 around 21:57

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Also, if you want just a gaiwan, I bought this one recently and it's great. Super cheap too. Just takes a pretty long time to ship, I paid the extra three bucks for air mail and it still took about 4-5 weeks.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



dik-dik posted:

If anyone's planning to buy $30 or more of stuff at Teavana in the next week (I think), be sure to use this discount code to get $10 off: RMN10OFF30

E: okay so since upton has a ballsload of tea samples for super cheap, I'll probably buy like 10-15 different kinds and try them out. What are some ones you guys recommend? I'm planning to buy a few oolongs, a few greens, a few blacks. Any specific teas I should try? Left to my own devices I'll probably just buy a few of the bestsellers in each category, but if anyone here has a favorite Upton tea I'd love to try it.

I really love their Hubei Province Keemun Ji Hong. So good, so cheap. The Yunnan Rare is also worth checking out, and they have a pleasant Irish Breakfast. Baker's Street Afternoon is good if you like smoky teas. Also, this isn't really tea, but their tins and especially their super cheap resealable bags are excellent for keeping herbs/spices/etc.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Just get samples whenever possible, with everything. I've run into $4/100g teas that I love and $4/1g teas that I don't care for.

Keep in mind that tea, in general, is cheap, and is, in general, consumed heavily by people in pretty poor economic situations. While I'm not saying "don't ever be suspicious of anything", taking the "cheap = dubious" train of thought too far can get you ripped off by people who just up-sell a huge margin on the same leaves with a fancier name/package.

Anyway on the China topic, if you're an average American buying average groceries, chances are pretty high that you're already eating lots of cheap Chinese produce - IIRC about 75% of all garlic is Chinese for just one example. Shouldn't be anything to worry about unless there's actual recalls or you're buying unlabeled stuff from some random dude instead of licensed and inspected importers.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Yeah, you can make iced tea like that with any tea. It'll taste different compared to cold steeping, but that's just a matter of preference.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Oh, I was replying to DVW about the sample/grocery tea stuff.

On an unrelated note, I'm actually quite impressed by Davidstea's tisane and rooibos stuff. They've got a bunch of tasty and well-balanced options there, which is nice to have for the evening. I'm surprised since I'm not a fan of any of their "real" teas (the flavorings are mostly too chemical-tasting and the leaves themselves are nothing special), but I guess it kind of make sense - if your thing is lots of flavoring might as well go all the way.

I wouldn't bother with the hit-or-miss nature of their stuff if I could only buy from the online store though, since 50'gs of teas you don't like suck and really add up in cash. Their physical locations are pretty awesome for just picking up like 10g of everything that looks alright.

On that note, Silk Road looks really nice but I wish they sold in less than 1/4lb options. That's quite a lot of tea, more than I like to buy of even my favorites at a time. If anyone ever wants to split stuff...

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Feb 14, 2012 around 01:00

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



A gaiwan is a cup with a lid. If you've got the typical kind of little teacup and a little plate, you can put your tea in there and place the plate on top to make a lid. Pour through a tea sieve, dump your leaves back into the brew-cup.

This is a kinda awkward method yeah, but if it's hard to get a cheap decent gaiwan in your area you can use it to see if you like gongfu style.

(Feel free to enlighten me if gaiwan really do have some kind of special tea-improving physical properties)

Even with a gaiwan though, gongfu will always be more pain-in-the-rear end than western style. Only something reasonable to do for your most fancy teas (not saying this because of , it's just a method generally meant for stuff that rebrews lots of times and isn't going to go bitter/astringent when you concentrate it; nobody gongfus earl grey), and even then only if you particularly want to milk concentrated shots out of them. It's pretty interesting though, if you're at home and feel like piddling around with it, but you're not some kind of "tea poser" if it doesn't do anything for you either.


Grandpa-style seems like a curious in-between, I'm gonna have to try that out.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Seconding the Earl Grey Creme Vanilla from Upton as being worth checking out if you're into Earl Greys. It's subtle and very pleasant, one of my favorites.

There's also the Sacher Blend, which has lots of Darjeeling and vanilla and is sort of like a strongly flavored (both in the tea and the vanilla) version of the same concept, but it's too strong and weird for my tastes - too much vanilla with the bergamot makes me think of coffee creamer/dry meringue cookies/orchid tea. Could be worth a sample if you're curious though.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Just overbrew your tea (quantity AND time) until it's extremely bitter, then dilute it with water until you can drink it without gagging. There you go. Russian style. For best results make sure to have some old-rear end water (if not kept hot then at the very least reboiled all day) that's so flat that your tea will be the better option no matter what.

What. I'm not bitter.

On a serious note you're pretty much doing gong fu with tannin teas. Well, and no rebrewing, or rinsing, or much temperature stuff... okay, it's really not got a whole lot in common with gongfu other than your tea/water ratio is gonna be pretty much that. How much you dilute depends on your tolerance. Some people do it straight. That's pretty hardcore though.

It's also kind of a thing to have it with no sugar (I don't remember what the attitude towards milk is, but it's not really common) and instead have some jam or just a candy on the side. So that you can, uh, taste the tea. (Oh yeah less-purists will put the jam inside though.) It's why a lot of Russian candies can be really obnoxiously sweet by themselves, they're kinda meant to cancel out a really strong unsweetened tea.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at May 3, 2012 around 22:26

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Twinning's Prince of Wales is surprisingly nice for a bag IMO. Can't really think of others.

As for Upton, I'd have to suggest not using a glass jar. In fact, you're probably best off leaving them in their bags. Their bags are awesome, they close tight (their sample sizes don't have a ziplock thing but the normal bags do), they're a bag so you can push most of the air out before closing, and they're not clear - this is important because UV rays in light make tea (and many other sensitive herbs/spices) go stale faster.

Upton bags are so good that I ordered a 100-pack to use for all my other teas and spices. If you want to do that, don't get anything bigger than the 125g size, it's already huge.

Anyway, I think you should be alright as long as you don't get ahead of yourself and order like fifteen packets. If you drink only one english teacup of tea per day (that's 6oz, not a big coffee mug, those little porcelain things), that's around 2.25g of tea a day, and you'll finish a 100g bag in almost exactly a month and a half. A more standard 8 oz cup takes about 3g of tea, so you get around a pack a month. Properly stored tea should easily go 6-12 months before it gets stale enough to really taste "old" as opposed to maybe just a bit weaker than it used to be.

Edit: My reading comprehension sucked on that one (and I didn't take into account that you'd drink other stuff). Well, the basics still apply, keep them in their original bags (unless you've got some super awesome tin maybe) and squeeze as much air out as you can. Maybe yeah separate the bulk amount from a smaller weekly amount or something. And make sure they're in as neutral of a place as you can get. They should still last pretty decently - I'll go ahead and admit that I have poor self control about tea and have way, way too many large unsealed packets going around at once. They're still decent for a long time with a splash of milk; I don't start to worry about keeping optimal quantity until the tea gets into really aromatic and/or expensive ranges.

Oh, if you like Earl Greys, their Earl Grey Creme Vanilla is worth checking out. Nice and mellow.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at May 18, 2012 around 06:33

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Baking soda's great for getting stuff out, and if it's something stubborn (like you forgot milk in there for a day or something) leave it to soak full of water with baking soda. If it's something really hardcore like months' worth of tannin buildup, barkeeper's friend solves everything.

...Plain black tea boring? Pff, next time you've got a spare ten bucks (okay 13-something with shipping), head over to uptontea.com and grab a sample of the hubei province keemun, the yunnan rare, and the doomni estate with lots of letters and the big gold leaves. They can all go straight, no nothing, and all kick the crap out of just about all the flavored teas I've had (and I like flavored teas).

Everyone's got their preferences though. Most of the time I like to brew on the strong side and add just a touch of milk to kill the tannins.

(obligatory upton disclaimer: their 2.25 g/cup is per 6 oz english teacup, it's an even 3g for 8 oz typical mugs, and uh... 3.17g per 250ml but no one needs to sperg that hard)

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at May 30, 2012 around 21:13

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



You can also add a bit to other tea if you want just a hint of smokiness.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Yeah I'll second that. Darjeelings are a little outside the standard tea category (along with smoked teas, pu-erhs, super vegetal japanese greens) in terms of being harder to get into and not everyone's cup of tea ().

I find them to be a lot like wine. You almost always have to deal with some levels of tannins and astringency, it can be hard to find the one with the right kind of "muscatel" you like, some will say it's all crap until you go pricey, and some people just don't like muscatel at all - it might be what you're thinking of as off. I can't say much more because I am one of them, but I still use half Assam and half Darjeeling for making chai: it adds an interesting element and the spices are enough to cover up the rougher notes.

First flushes are another matter. If Darjeeling's wine, first flush is white wine. You're going lighter, not really probing for muscatel anymore, but this means that there's really nothing standing in the way of the astringency - plus they're only partially oxidized, so closer to a green tea. I'm really not into those so I just see the flavor profile as "grass and twigs", and the semi-oxidation can make for a fickle brew.

The difference between first flush and onwards is actually pretty severe. I used to go on about how I loved Upton's Sikkim, for example, rich and thick and peachy. But then the new harvest, at 20 some bucks a bag (that's huge by Upton standards), had none of the thickness and richness, and only a little bit of the peachiness, underneath a big layer of awful sour grass/hay. I brewed it every which way, and the only brews that didn't have too much of the sour grass were very light and still "slightly unpleasant". Ended up giving up and tossing it.

So for a long time I was wondering what the hell happened. I think I even complained on here a few times. I was also bewildered reading other reviewers praising its pineapple/floral notes (which is fair, I hate pineapple notes and don't like astringent florals either). And then I learned that first flush isn't just one of those fancy terms for higher quality, it's a different stage of development entirely and definitely not the one I started with.

And yeah, try doing your teas by weight if you're not already, volume just varies way too much - it's the same concept as salt vs kosher salt. You can get a little scale and calibration weight off of DealExtreme for under 10 bucks, free worldwide shipping - whatever looks nice and goes to 0.00g is fine. It'll also come in handy if you ever want to play with food chemicals, highly concentrated ingredients, or very precise recipes.

My go-to standard for all blacks is 3 grams per 8 oz (that's 3.15 for 250 ml but don't sweat it) for 2-2.5 minutes (3-3.5-4 for milk depending on how strong I feel like, milk kills tannins). Play with the steeping time before the leaf quantity. It's fine for "western-style" brewing most other types of teas too, if you're willing to sacrifice some nuance for the sake of low-effort-just-get-me-a-mug.

You may see "2 and 1/4 grams per cup" in some places. That's actually the same thing, it just comes from the old-fashioned 6oz English teacup.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



TXT BOOTY7 2 47474 posted:

More on topic (i guess?), I got a Breville One-Touch Tea Maker for my birthday a couple weeks and it may be the greatest gift I've ever been given. Waking up each morning to a perfectly-steeped Darjeeling with absolutely no effort on my part is just fantastic, cleaning it's easy as could be, the steep basket is big enough for even the largest oolongs, and it seems super-sturdy - feels like it's going to last me a few years. It's expensive as hell, actually probably the most expensive small appliance I own and I doubt I would have bought it for myself, but I'm sure as hell glad someone else did.

Congratulations on your teabot! There is one thing to watch out for: be really, really careful making any rooibos, especially if it's flavoured rooibos (DavidsTea definitely has some culprits). As in, if you want to, pour it into another container and rinse your machine out shortly after you're done. I don't know why, but it's the one and only thing I've seen that can stink it up hardcore. And I've been a and made things like eggs and miso soup in mine, or forgetting leaves in for a week while I'm out. It's otherwise been totally unreactive.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Nov 16, 2012 around 16:50

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



I'd give the Earl Grey Creme Vanilla a shot. I'm not exactly sure just what Royal Milk Tea is, but I really like having it with some whole milk. It shouldn't be particularly sweeter than any other tea, just flavored.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



This used to be my go-to Chai recipe, though now I sort of wing it depending on what I feel like (different stuff can easily work its way in, like allspice or saffron or rose petals...). A few things to note: I'm pretty sure the "bay leaves" are Indian bay leaves, which have a very different flavor from typical laurel ones. They can be substituted for some cassia buds or otherwise extra cinnamon if you don't have any. Star anise is fine if you don't have fennel/anise seed, one large strong one or a couple smaller ones. The black pepper makes it stronger/earthier, leave it out if you want a smoother drink. If you're not serving this to multiple people, add the milk/honey individually so that you can leave the masala chai out and reheat it later. Also, I like it better with half Darjeeling and half Assam, but really any strong-but-not-too-bitter black tea can do.

If you can find Chinese wintermelon sugar (I think it's like a block meant to be boiled whole to make some sort of drink?), it's incredible in place of the honey. Maybe not remotely traditional, but it just works. Condensed milk instead of milk+honey is another nice variation.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Jan 12, 2013 around 19:50

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Whoops, I just realized I messed up my sentence structure up there. It's the Indian bay leaves that can be substituted for cinnamony stuff, not the fennel/anise. (Edited that post)

Also different regions have different preferences for how milky/creamy it is. Some use half and half, some brew in half water half milk, or some just in straight up milk (I guess maybe with more tea/spices). I'd make this one and add milk to taste and then see if you're interested in a full milk brew or something.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Indian bay leaf can be substituted for a bit of cassia bud, and if you don't have that either you could up the cinnamon a little bit or leave it alone. I've made it with regular bay leaves before I knew what Indian ones were, and it didn't mess it up or anything (it just tastes better with the Indian ones), so it's up to you really. Personally I find (regular) laurel bay leaves + black pepper give it a certain chicken stock vibe that I don't particularly care for, so I'll usually leave them out; but it's not bad, just savory. There's no set recipe for what exactly a chai masala is since it various a ton by region, some will even throw in licorice or caraway or tamarind etc. But I quite like anything that's got chinnamon, cardamom, fresh ginger, clove, and a bit of anise as the main players.

Oh yeah, if you're making the full 7 cups and aren't serving them all, get the tea leaves out somehow - they'll go bitter if they're steeping in your pot all day. I usually just pour it into some big pitcher or bowl through a fine sieve. I guess you could have your tea leaves (and/or spices) in cheesecloth bags or something, but - and maybe this is just placebo on my part - the flavors seem to infuse a bit better when everything can just float freely.

I usually double the recipe and drink it over a couple days because it just goes down so easily. Which is why I don't make it too milk heavy. But I'll try a small batch in milk sometime soon.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Jan 12, 2013 around 20:35

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



That's odd, I've always made it at home because it came out more intense than the commercial stuff. Maybe I've got weaker tea or stronger spices though, or added them more generously (haven't followed the recipe for a bit), or just that I tend to forget the spices steeping for a while. Anyway, the spices should definitely be at the forefront (to the point where it's kinda too strong without milk), so feel free to mess with it until they are.

As for vanilla, extract might be a better option. I've tried adding in beans (split and loosely scraped) while boiling all the spices together and thought the flavor got kinda lost. Though there is this thing where if you want to add saffron you're supposed to let it steep in hot milk (alcohol can work too) for a bit first to get the flavor to come out stronger and mix in easier. I wonder if that might apply to vanilla bean as well.

And yeah, chai can be made with any tea, though there might be some alternative spice pairings. Rooibos is pretty great with coconut (though I dunno if I'd do that at the same time as vanilla).

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Sech posted:

I was given an ounce of Black Chai and an ounce of Indian Spice Herbal Chai for Christmas. I tried brewing the Indian Spice Herbal Chai both straight and with milk added, but I wasn't a fan of either.

The description for the Black Chai says, "Our delicious chai blends organic black tea with organic ginger, organic fennel, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom, organic nutmeg, organic black pepper and organic cloves."

The description for the Indian Spice Herbal Chai says, "Our caffeine-free chai blends cinnamon, fennel, ginger, anise, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns."

I am fairly new to tea. I've only been drinking them for about the last year and half. I've stuck primarily to Black Teas and Oolong. I do enjoy chai tea latte, but I've never made one myself. Any guidance would be appreciated.

If you have access to whole fresh spices and you want to try making Chai from scratch, check out Bob's post. If you can't crush or grind the spices, they'll still be OK whole, and if you can get your hands on some Indian bay leaves (they're much larger than regular ones and sort of stripey), I think they're a great addition. (If Saffron's ultra expensive where you are, you can skip that too - Saffron tastes awesome, but due to the price the majority of Chais out there don't have it).

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



If you want a lot of oomph, try a Lapsang souchong. It's really smoky, like scotch. But if smoke's not her thing (personally, while I like a good strong black tea, I just don't like smoke), then try an Assam. Unlike other black teas, Assams are a separate variety of the plant - stronger, maltier, and with more caffeine. Doomni Estate Assam with milk is one of my favorite teas of all, although getting it in the highest grade can be pricey. Upton Tea has a pretty nice selection of them (sort by customer reviews, 4 stars is a good bet) at various price points, and you can get samples of almost anything. They also have a blend called Baker Street Afternoon for those that like a little bit of smoke but not a full-blown Lapsang or find Assams too heavy.

Edit: While I'm going on about Upton Teas, I'll briefly plug the Earl Grey Creme Vanilla. I drink it with milk like I do most blacks, and while I don't typically enjoy most Earl Greys or other flavored teas (it's hard for me to find ones that neither have too much flavoring nor not enough), I find this one quite pleasant as a... well, creamy citrus-vanilla tea. Worth sampling.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2013 around 00:19

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



I'm in Canada and Upton Tea seems to currently charge a flat $11.20 to ship - got pricier than I remember, but still pretty reasonable compared to other US retailers. I like David's physical locations since you can buy per gram and get small samples; on the other hand, Camellia Sinensis isn't worth the trek - every time I've had to deal with snobby and exasperated staff.

Also, I'm not sure how common or regional it is, but if you ever happen upon an "Arctic Fire" blend, it's usually very good. My favorite take on it thus far is from some tall tin by an "Ariel" company (ship with big sails logo) called Merveille díHiver/Winter Wonderland, although it has really absurd brewing instructions (3 tsp/5g in 240 ml water for 3-4 minutes?? Must be Russians or something...) that I don't follow. Well, I tried to follow them once, and the standard way's much better.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2013 around 07:34

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Looks like the current batch of Verdant's Laoshan Black is a lot more roasted than the previous ones according to its description.

I haven't had it before but I thought it was alright, kinda like toasted pumpernickel the first steep, but I wasn't getting most of those hints at all. Maybe a little bit of the cinnamon and very mild caramel on the resteep. I thought it was decent but not something I'd buy more of, particularly because it was pretty weak. I wouldn't even put a drop of milk into that stuff (I know that's not very proper in general, but I love everything about black teas except for the harsh tannins (too sensitive to bitter stuff), and just a touch gets rid of them.)

As for getting through large quantities of tea that's not thaaaat great and/or not thaaaat fresh anymore (but not bad enough to throw out), iced tea is the bomb. I'm a big fan of the Takeya pitcher (the ~2L one, I don't get the point of the midget version) for that, it's super convenient.

You can go through 5-8 tablespoons at a time with some teas, and if it's too strong just add more water. Or lemonade/nice fruit juice/whatever works.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



What's a typical British kettle wattage? I'm pretty pleased with my 1500 watt kettle, to the point where I'll sometimes use it just to boil water that I'll put in a pot on the stove. (I've also seen some 1800 ones but that might trip a breaker )

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



For those of you who like flavoured blacks: I recently picked up some of what I think is this Guava Tea from a local shop (I have no idea about the website I linked, but the picture matches. It's probably available elsewhere) and it's really pleasant. It doesn't have that overpowering "chemical" taste (i.e. overuse of flavorants) that turns me off from most options at places like DavidsTea, but can still handle a touch of milk (I find it a bit too bitter without, but that goes for so many things that I'm probably just overly sensitive to bitterness).

Not sure how to describe the flavour though. First thing that comes to mind is "candy and flowers", but not to the point of being perfume-y.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



I've had the Breville One-Touch for over two years and it's totally worth it. Heats water super fast, makes every kind of Western style tea (although the super fast heating makes it decent for pouring for gongfu), and it's awesome to have freshly brewed loose tea ready when I wake up. If I don't have to rush anywhere, I set it to go a little bit early so that it cools down to drinking temperature by the time I'm ready. Otherwise I'll just pour into a thermos and head out.

If you can make the splurge, maybe there'll be some sort of Black Friday deal on it.

Oh yeah, couple of minor drawbacks... the cord is comically short (I like it but it might be awkward for certain counters) and the metallic parts eventually turns a kinda ugly brown. Also you'd probably want to tell it to steep for like 30 seconds less than you would in a mug, because the basket lift itself out pretty slowly. And you need at least 500mL of water to do the auto-steeping, so that might get a bit much with high-rebrew teas but should be fine with two people.

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Nov 21, 2013 around 03:09

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Grrl Anachronism posted:

Are there any good sites that sell bulk loose tea for a reasonable price in/not with ridiculous shipping to Canada? I prefer loose leaf tea, but I usually make it by the pitcher and 150g for ~$15 gets kind of pricey.

Upton Tea! Last I checked their shipping to Canada was quite reasonable.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Slaapaav posted:

Assam and Keemun are my favorites for generic all purpose black teas. I can have a cup of these at any time really. Any other all round blacks I should try?

Yunnan. Assams, Keemuns, and Yunnans are basically my fave trio. Upton's Yunnan Rare Grade is a good starter (but it's Upton so really you can just sample anything that looks good).

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Can anybody point me to a nice glass tumbler? At least ~16 oz and more or less able to handle blacks, and if there's a sleeve for it that's even better. No need for an infuser.

I'm also in the market for a nice 12+ oz glass mug. Something that isn't too likely to split on contact with hot water. I've worked with enough beakers to think that is a reasonable standard. Or, hey, if there's a way to get a beaker with a handle... Edit: Nevermind, I think I found what I'm looking for...

I really like to see what I'm drinking :|

Culinary Bears fucked around with this message at Dec 17, 2013 around 11:03

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Re: beaker mugs. The ones I linked was sold out on Amazon, so I got these instead, and they're awesome! Reasonable shipping to Canada, good insulation (I can microwave them and the handle is still cool), and they're actually about the size of a regular mug but hold over 16oz. Maybe a bit pricey, but they do feel like real chemistry beakers. I dunno if I'd take their measuring lines too seriously (it says approx., and one of my 4 got printed very slightly tilted), but as a clear drinking mug they're great.

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



Depending on how much you can return it for and what deals you can find, you could also take a look at Breville's tea maker if you still like the automatic concept. It'll give you any temperature from 160F to boiling in 5F increments (also works in Celsius, I don't remember the numbers but that's around a 70C minimum), whatever time you want, and only needs a quick rinse unless you forgot old tea in there or something. There's a 500ml minimum for it to steep for you though, so that might not work with some high-rebrew ones unless you're serving a crowd or just using it as a variable kettle. I feel like I go on about it way too much here though, so I'll st-- did I mention it makes tea for you in the morning?

Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



For cold brewing the Takeya Iced Tea Maker is really excellent (and I'm not flipping out over more teatech, it's a 20-25$? buck pitcher). Go for the 2 quart though, even if you don't drink much tea. It's pretty ergonomic for that volume (fits easier than, say, orange juice cartons), and you're going to appreciate the extra space after adding all the leaves/ice cubes/fruit or citruses/whatever. Well, especially that last point - you can make a small amount of tea and then just chuck a bunch of fruit in, it's great.

Now, I don't think that cold brew really helps the flavor of tea like it does for coffee. Unless you actually like squeezing out all the weird grassy notes - I think they pair well with certain additives (lemon's a classic, berries etc) but are kind of ehh on their own. YMMV. But anyway, it's an awesome way to use up large amounts of tea that you don't care too much for and make it taste decent.

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Culinary Bears
Feb 1, 2007



I'd be surprised if they weren't. One of the great things about tea is that even the fancy-pants stuff is really inexpensive, especially from the source. I'll even extend that to the really pricey oolongs/puerhs if you've got the patience to rebrew them 20 times. And even if not, per liquid volume it's nothing compared to e.g. vintage alcohol.

Re: milk, the correct way to drink tea is any way you like it. Just don't pour boiling liquid into cold glass (might split) and don't pour milk on top of just-boiled tea (might curdle). The main deal with milk is that milk proteins, caseins, bind with cathetins in tea to actually wipe out some of the bitter tannin aspect of the flavor. Fat-free milk will do that just the same, but dairy alternatives (e.g. soy milk) can't. You also really don't need anything more than like a... teaspoon per cup for that effect if you haven't overbrewed. Maybe a bit more for a really hearty Assam. But it can be done without significantly diluting the overall flavour, unless you consider the bitterness to be an essential component.

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