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aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Hi! Some people were talking about genmaicha and such and because this is a thread that needs some love I figured I would say hello.





Brew temperature: 179F, or roughly freshly boiled water cooled for 5-7 minutes
Steep time: 90sec - 2 minutes, adjust to taste
Suggested serving size: 2 tablespoons per 4oz of water in the teapot
Longevity: 5-8 steeps, increasing the steep time by 15-30sec each time

Overview



Genmaicha is a low to medium grade green tea blended with roasted and popped brown rice kernels. White rice is used in place of brown rice sometimes too, but "genmai" translates to brown rice. It is designed to be a cheaper alternative to the often much more expensive and more carefully cultivated grades of green tea in Japan. Because there is less actual tea leaf by volume, the overall cost tends to be significantly cheaper. A good poor man's tea.

That's not to say it's a bad tea!

Taste

Genmaicha is a very robust tea that takes to multiple steeps well. The flavor profile is a little on the sweeter side accentuated by the planty/vegetal flavor profiles of sencha. The roasted kernels provide a very "toasty" liquor (the robustness from earlier). With the right amount of genmaicha, you typically don't have to worry about oversteeping. The most important thing is to make sure you don't brew the leaves too hot.

In the hotter seasons it's great to have iced. Very refreshing!

Doesn't really take well to honey/sugar in my opinion, but that's personal taste.

Food Pairings

Anything dry savory/salty will work well. Try rice crackers, potato chips, nori senbei (Japanese rice crackers w/ seaweed). Both dry and 'fluffy' sweets work well too such as crumbly cookies, cakes, and biscuits.

Pricing and Availability

Genmaicha, being a cheap tea, is found in plenty of places. The brand I typically drink is HIME Brand genmaicha since it's available at my local grocery store (Lucky's in the US) - 10oz for $3.75 + tax.

Provided you have stuff to brew with already, you get about two to three months of genmaicha if you used the brewing suggestions above if you brewed once a day and dumped the leaves after one steep for every day of the week at 7 cents a cup. Money well spent? Maybe!

Other Notes

Try brewing cold! Use a disposable tea bag and pack it with 4-5 tablespoons in one pitcher (3L or more). The longer you let it steep the better, overnight is good.

Blending genmaicha with other green teas will make the brew milder overall. Try 2 parts genmaicha to 1 part gunpowder green tea. You can probably steep that up to 10-12 times with the extra 'strength' the gunpowder gives to the cup! (note: please do not use actual gunpowder. that is dangerous and probably tastes terrible)

I'll throw some pictures up later!

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Oct 25, 2011 around 17:10

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aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I added some pictures to my earlier post about genmaicha, and later I will about gaiwan and some oolongs!

Something to tide you over. hooray, images


Always Tie Guan Yin, from Imperial Tea Court (Berkeley, CA)

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

.Z. posted:

Anyone have suggestions on some high quality oolongs to get? I about to finsh up the $45 version of this: http://seattlebesttea.com/?page_id=...=4&product_id=1

I'm not looking for everyday stuff, I've got a large supply of daily quality/cost puerh and oolong. I just want something for every so often.

Hey this question never got answered! Prepare for

Personally I like high grade Wu Yi oolongs for their extreme bold flavors that last for a long time. The flavor is so distinct you would probably be able to distinguish it in a blind taste test.

If you live in America, two of the top fancy tea purveyors that are in the West Coast are Téance and Imperial Tea Court. It depends on the amount of tea you're looking for but there's one from Imperial Tea Court that the owner of the place, Roy Fong, hand fires himself every year at his facilities in Oakland, CA. (edit: sorry, i forgot to mention that it is extremely limited supply and I believe only available by special request or in store)

One of my favorites from Téance (you can find this elsewhere too) is Buddha's Hand oolong. Rather than being rolled into curled shapes, the broad tea leaves are instead kept fairly straight and hand fired. The Spring 2010 leaves I have 2oz (e: oops, not 4oz) of are still good! It has a somewhat nutty texture, with a very tantalizing liquor and aroma. Definitely worth trying if you can find some, as it is reputed to be somewhat rare due to how it's made (?).


2 Tablespoons of Buddha's Hand Oolong


Original Packaging 2oz Spring 2010 Harvest from Teance, Berkeley CA


Buddha's Hand, second steeping. Had to blow out the exposure a little bit to get some of the details out!

Abroad, look for oolongs that have "Monkey Picked", "Imperial", or "Premium" in their title. Generally speaking, the first two are to signify that it's the pride of a given tea shop and thus some of their most select products. If you can, try a cup before committing, though, because a lot of the more expensive oolongs tend towards much more subtle differences.

As mentioned very briefly earlier, Taiwan has one of the ideal climates for growing oolongs. "Formosa" being one of the designations for Taiwanese oolongs, I believe 'milky' oolongs are noted so for their texture, aroma, and appearance, and like the Buddha's Hand oolong mentioned earlier, they have special processing methods which are much more labor intensive than even regular oolongs.

A special mention is Zealong, which is oolong made in New Zealand. I have yet to try it but there are no other tea plantations that produce commercially in New Zealand that I'm aware of, and you get a fair amount with a $55 US purchase. Check them out here. Recently I see they've been getting a lot more exposure and are working on securing exporters, so you might be able to get it locally if you prod around.

tl;dr: any Wu Yi, Buddha's Hand, Formosa Milk, (bonus) Imperial Grade Baozhong, Monkey Picked Tie Guan Yin

edits: added a couple of pictures to brighten this text post up. I'll add some wu yi tie luo han later!

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Oct 26, 2011 around 18:28

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Charmmi posted:

Thanks for the great info, aldantefax. What kind of gaiwan do you use? I heard it's a really good way of preparing oolong tea but I don't really know what to look for in a quality gaiwan.

Hoho, glad you asked. Time for

What is a Gaiwan?


An extreme close up of one of my favorite gaiwan that I use at work. It is made of thin porcelain.

A gaiwan is a Chinese drinking vessel that originally evolved from the chawan, which was a large bowl where tea was steeped, mixed with herbs and spices (orange peel, peppercorns, salt, and all sorts of other stuff), then drunk in one go. Chawan tends to live on in the Japanese tea ceremony tradition, however in China and abroad, it has since been supplanted and refined to a more personal level.

Why Gaiwan?

Gaiwan in general is one of the preferred methods of brewing small servings of tea designed to be drunk by an individual. Next to yixing gong fu teaware, a gaiwan is generally affordable and easy to handle, once you know how to properly measure and handle tea. Compare this to a traditional Western-style teapot which tends to hold as much as four to eight times the amount of tea liquor that a gaiwan has! It is a different experience altogether.

Originally designed to provide a way for people to enjoy multiple steepings of the same leaves, the gaiwan is best suited for pu-erh (cake or loose) and oolong teas. Very finely cut teas such as black tea blends from India and abroad such as Earl Grey and English/Irish/Scottish Breakfast black teas may not work well, because more often than not you'll get tea bits stuck in your teeth.

In use today, there are places in China and abroad that serve teas in gaiwan rather unceremoniously, as it is well integrated into every day life. In restaurants that do provide gaiwan (or tea bars, cafes, etc.) it is also said that positioning the lid of the gaiwan in certain orientations (upside down, leaning against the bowl, away from the bowl) serves as a sort of signal to a server if you need more hot water, or you stepped away and intend to return, or if you're done, etc.

Parts


A gaiwan I use at home. Note the lid on the side leaning on the saucer.

A gaiwan is comprised of three parts - lid, bowl, and a wide fitted saucer. Since pu-erh and oolong is meant to be served hot (208F and 194F, respectively), the drinker will typically employ both hands in order to hold the saucer, while the other hand manipulates the lid so that when they are drinking, they can sweep the leaves away from the liquor. When you are used to drinking from a gaiwan, you can definitely use a claw-like grip in one hand while getting water all over the place.

The lid deserves special note here as it is meant to be used to help agitate the tea leaves to help them unfold. It also keeps the tea from losing too much heat during steepings, and as mentioned before, it helps prevent getting a mouthful of tea leaves. It's also possible to serve some tea on the convex side of the lid to help cool the liquor down and serve it to more temperature sensitive individuals, such as people with children.

The bowl of the gaiwan will typically be glazed and a reflective pale color to help accentuate the color of the tea liquor and the leaves themselves. Tea, like wine, is meant to be a sensory experience, and it overall helps if you are able to see everything in good contrast - while still keeping everything nice and hot.


Wu Yi Tie Luo Han 2011 from Imperial Tea Court, Berkeley CA

The saucer, of course, ties everything together. Most times you will have the saucer fitted to the bottom of the bowl so they do not rattle about and potentially spill everywhere. The extra layer of glazed stoneware is vital to preventing burning and scalding, as this is where the entire thing is grasped.

Operational Instructions

Like any other way of making tea, preheat first! It will improve the overall experience of your drink by a very wide margin unless you're drinking Lipton (in which case, why are you even reading this?).

I'll put some action pictures here demonstrating two holding techniques and the parts of a gaiwan mentioned above soon!

A fancy walkthrough of gaiwan preparation done in the gong fu style can be found at the Tea Masters blog, but it needn't be so complicated (or done squatting for that matter, jeez). Thanks Bob McBob for the tip!

Being a glorified cup, a gaiwan normally invites a minimal amount of tea, no more than 2 tablespoons at the maximum even for the most broad-leafed teas. Take note and use the same spoon or scoop each time so you don't overmeasure the amount of leaves.

Gaiwan have a usually invisible fill line which is about half a centimeter before the lip begins to curl - that is, the liquid should not go farther than where the lid normally rests.

When drinking from the gaiwan, it is generally not considered rude to slurp, because you're shotgunning 190+ degree liquid into your mouth! Just take it slowly and enjoy each somewhat noisome sip.

Caveats
  • A gaiwan is definitely not an active travelling accessory, it is meant to be used in a stationary setting where you can pay attention to the tea. In an office environment it's only useful if you are never busy or you have a ready supply of temperature specific hot water.
  • Some people will tell you that X is better than Y when it comes to gaiwan, but those are typically sales tactics. See below for shopping tips!
  • As well, gaiwan do not go over so well with teas that have leaves processed by way of CTC (Cut-Tear-Curl)- you will be able to distinguish them as the leaves have been chopped finely. Use whole leafed or coarsely chopped tea leaves.
  • When you first start using a gaiwan you will probably have some bad starts. It's okay, since it does take getting used to, but keep a small hand towel handy...and maybe a bib.

Pricing and Variety

A typical good quality gaiwan will cost $20-30 USD and will hold about 4-8oz of liquid, so expect to have about 25-50% of that volume taken up by the leaves expanding.

Bob McBob informed me that there are in fact other places that sell gaiwan cheaper:


Gaiwan are typically made in many places in China and Taiwan. Taiwanese gaiwan, in my experience, tend to have heftier glazes which can sometimes cause the parts of the gaiwan to rattle when you're holding it (if it's a bad fit).

When considering purchasing a gaiwan, consider the aesthetics and personal comfort level - tea, like any other culinary experience, is best experienced when you're most comfortable, so if you like a certain design over another, then by all means don't let the price sway you.

Many, if not all, specialty tea stores sell a gaiwan, though they may be surprised if you ask to buy one if you're not in an Asian tea producing area (it does not see much use in India, for example). Since it's a tactile experience, try many different types and just hold them in both hands for a little while. If you find that you're constantly studying the intricacies of the gaiwan or it feels pleasant to hold, then you've probably found a pretty good one for yourself.

Unless there's a physical defect with a gaiwan, it is like any piece of non-transient wares; take good care of it and it will stay with you for a long time.

I've purchased gaiwan from two places, chiefly: Imperial Tea Court (direct link to gaiwan section) and Tea Au Lait, which sadly no longer stocks gaiwan since they closed their physical store location. Imperial Tea Court actually serves tea in gaiwan at their tea houses, so if you're looking for a reliable restaurant quality gaiwan, their 'Teahouse' Gaiwan is pretty good. I have this Dragon Celadon gaiwan and I use it at home.

edit: added some extra stuff from bob mcbob

edit 2: added images

edit 3 (future): add action shots and video?

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Oct 29, 2011 around 03:36

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Be careful what thermos you use, though! When I used to work at a previous job where no hot water was available in the building (call center, go figure), I would bring a thermos to work every day. I tried cheap glass vacuum thermoses, stainless steel thermoses from a mysterious place (taiwan or china maybe), and finally settled on The Rock by Thermos.

Ideally, you want a thermos with a wide enough mouth that can accommodate teabags, however I have found an alternate solution of using a filtered tumbler in conjunction with the actual thermos. Teavana has one which, while it appears expensive, is actually made out of double walled borosilicate glass and is much more durable compared to an acrylic one (which can be damaged during prolonged use and abrasive cleaners).

Treat the tea tumbler like an actual teapot and be sure to preheat, though! You throw the leaves in the cup, pour hot water, and let steep. Be sure to use teas that actually take well to extended steep times such as greens and oolongs. If steeped properly, good quality tea will never become a bitter liquid that you have to discard!

Tea tumblers are kind of a modernized version of a gaiwan, seeing how they operate on the same "brew in cup" philosophy!

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Hoho, yes indeed there are. Very important to follow too for teas you are paying a lot of money for! Lipton get out.

All teas generally follow the same guidelines:

1. get water up to a boil
2. POUR BOILING WATER INTO YOUR TEA POT (just a little)
3. swirl that poo poo around and then dump it in the sink or water some plants idk

The first three steps are so vitally important that you will immediately taste a difference if you don't do it for any tea at all that actually has flavor other than "turpentine" (see: a lot of bagged teas: lipton, bigelow (sorry other guys who were saying it was "pretty good",), etc.).

TEMPERATURE LIST

All temperatures are expressed in Fahrenheit. This assumes a full kettle of water that has been poured into its intended serving vessel (such as a tea pot, tea tumbler, gaiwan, or mouth):

  • Black - 208+F or "still boiling", rolling boil
  • Pu-erh - 208F or "just at boiling", freshly boiled water left to sit for 2 minutes
  • Oolong and Yellow - 194F or "near boil", water makes small "fish eye" bubbles; or, water has cooled down from a fresh boil for about 3-5 minutes
  • Green - 176F, water has cooled down from a fresh boil for about 5-7 minutes
  • White - 140F, water has cooled down from a fresh boil for about 7-10 minutes

After all this crap you will be ready to actually throw your leaves in the pot (or a strainer, or a disposable tea bag, or...ugh, a tea ball)

Why Does Temperature Matter

Tea (that is, camellia sinensis of any variety) is prepared in such a wide variety of ways that are generally classified as five groups by their oxidation level noted above. The steps to prepare each kind of tea determines their final oxidation level and packs in all the flavors and mysterious wizard chemicals that are inside of the actual leaves themselves.

As a general rule, the more oxidized leaves are, the higher the water temperature. This is why with Pu-erh (nominally a 'fermented' and aged type of tea) and black teas (100% oxidized) require a high water temperature. Think of the water temperature as a magic password to flavor country.

If people want I can give a more scientific explanation later when I get home, but remember:

* FRESH BOIL IS PRETTY GOOD
* PREHEAT THAT POT
* OKAY NOW GET THE WATER TO THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE
* ENJOY LIFE

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

In my experiences, having the water brought to an actual boil is better for two reasons:

1. You will always know how long it takes to cool the water down.
2. Kind of new agey, but it will uplift the 'qi' of the water. This is actually related to how much oxygen is released from the liquid. With tea being composed of really only two elements (the leaves and the water), which may help with the release of chemical compounds for the teas in question. There's a significant difference, for example, between boiling a fresh pot of water versus a reboiled pot of water - after enough reboils, the water will taste 'flat', like a soda or a beer left out for too long.

Honestly though, I will only boil water once or maybe twice a day in my water kettle. Having to constantly boil water is a hassle, but it is doubly the hassle if you're babying the water temperature. By all means, though, anybody is welcome to try and get water not boiling but at a temperature suitable for handling delicate white and green teas that doesn't cook the leaves and turn them bitter or fails to steep the leaves properly, leaving the tea flat and otherwise yucky.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

There are many different kinds of thermal mugs that work well in heat retention that aren't specifically made for tea but do the job just fine. What your friend mentioned with double-walled glass is that there is a pocket of neutral gas which serves as a buffer zone between the interior and exterior walls.

Ultimately, it is supposed to reflect a large majority of the heat back to the interior wall where it will keep your cup warm. In this case, a double walled serving glass will not keep your liquid warm - nor will it cause you to burn yourself when you grip the cup on the outside, either (which is kind of the main point there).

The main deal here is the amount of exposed liquid surface area at the top. It's unreasonable to think that a cup of anything that doesn't have a cover left sitting out in the open will retain heat - the human body loses a large amount of heat just by not wearing a hat during the winter months or when you have a cold, and we generate our own heat, for crying out loud!

Consider any stainless steel insulated mug with seals and a lid, if not the double-walled glass tea tumbler I linked from Teavana earlier. Again, anything that's designed to keep coffee hot for long periods of time will keep tea hot for long periods of time, too. Making tea in advance and keeping it in a thermos, as mentioned earlier, is also an excellent way to retain temperature and have portable tea when you want it.

I'll take a look around for some actual products to recommend, but provide a price point so we can shop for you, I guess!

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

ohnoyoudidnt posted:

...Is it actually picked by monkeys? Because that would be ace.

There was a myth (and who knows, it could actually have been true at one point) where in the high mountains in Yunnan where oolongs were first developed, tea trees were well nigh inaccessible because of the climb. They were visible, sure, but nobody had ladders or anything like that, so the legend goes that villagers would taunt the monkeys that lived in the tea trees, and in reply, the monkeys, frustrated, would use their tiny hands to pluck the leaves and throw them at the villagers - who, of course, would then collect, prepare, and drink the leaves.

In today's parlance, though, "Monkey Picked" is effectively one of the top teas of a given shop. Some places like to abuse it or label their teas as such without really knowing the story or meaning behind it, so sadly it is more of an advertising move than anything else in today's market.

indigi posted:

What's "the Russian style?"

Drinking tea in the Russian style is drinking an extremely strong, bitter tea (black tea that's been boiled and steeped for approximately 10-15 minutes) that is usually taken by the spoonful at a time with a sweetener such as jam or sugar. The tea is usually prepared via a special two part boiler apparatus called a samovar, which you can learn more about here!

The style of drinking extremely strong tea through a spoon with sweetener has some dark history to it, though, as rations were slim in prison camps during wartime. Prisoners that were afforded tea at all in gulags would be able to stretch the tea and get some energy via taking tea in this method.

To some, it remains as a reminder of a time when the only thing that a person had to drink was but a single teaspoon of the most bitter liquid you could find. However, the samovar is considered a communal tea dispensary, and many people would be able to feel welcome as part of a family by taking tea served in the Russian style.

indigi posted:

how long do tea leaves stay good?

With proper containment you can keep most teas upwards of two to three years. Don't keep them out in the open, use a fairly airtight neutral container. Keep them away from temperature fluctuations and direct sunlight. While tea is best consumed sooner rather than later, with proper care many teas can be stored longer than a few months.

In addition, tea isn't really a perishable good, but do be advised that mold can result as a result of poor keeping and humidity factors. This is especially troublesome for sheng (green) pu-erh, which are meant to be aged for several years prior to drinking! With pu-erh, you will want to remove the tea from its protective container and use a fine brush to gently dust the leaves once a year or so.

If you think it silly, I did post the Buddha's Hand oolong from Spring 2010 that I was drinking in October of 2011, so after a full year and change, the flavor was quite agreeable to the palate!

bean_shadow posted:

orwell tea essay

Oh, neat. I don't think I've read this until now but steeping in the cup itself without using a strainer or with a bag is the classic way of brewing tea (see the post on the previous page I made about gaiwan, which are precisely designed to do such an activity). While I don't agree with some of the opinions Mr. Orwell sets forth (teas only from India being the only 'proper' tea, for example), they are opinions. I would encourage anybody to actually try a variety of teas from different regions and come to their own personal opinions about what teas they prefer!

His guidelines for tea (save pouring directly from the kettle while trying to maintain on the flame - that's dangerous) are the generally accepted standard, though. Preheat the pot and use the correct temperature of water, etc.

Devi posted:

a cup suitable for home use that can keep teas warm for 30 minutes or longer and other concerns

There are two ways you can go about it; either keep your teapot warm and use a smaller cup, or if you're looking for a single serving self contained solution, any mug will do that comes with a lid. Check your local Asian grocer if you have one available, as there are plenty of lidded cups that they sell in their table wares, in my experience.

If you want a filter that you can reuse that comes with its own coaster, I recommend Finum filters (company link here. Not to be an odd duck, but your profile says you live in Chicago, so I'm sure you should be able to scare up a local tea shop somewhere around there!

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Keeping a teapot warm usually involves putting it on a small raised surface with a tealight underneath it keeping it warm, or being placed in a tea cozy (do not do both, fire hazard). With keeping cups passively warm, I'd suggest to use a coaster of some kind and any lid at all.

The Finum tea filters noted earlier have lids without knobs on the top - they instead have tabs on the edges which allow you to pop the lid off, which then doubles as an actual coaster. With a filter like that you have minimal risk of getting leaves everywhere, as once you're finished steeping, it's intended to be removed and set aside.

Now that I think about it, some Japanese teacups are very thick-walled which helps keeps the heat from being released too quickly. Instead the outside of the cup becomes mostly warm to the touch. This particular Japanese mug was from a New Zealand web store, but it's mostly to illustrate the thickness of the actual cup.



Honestly, though, if you're concerned about the durability of a cup plus you want to keep your tea hot, I'd recommend a tea tumbler with insulation. They often have screw on lids, an additional filter section, and are intended to keep teas warm for longer periods of time than a traditional mug or cup. Plus, as they were originally designed for travel, they are also made out of stuff that can take a few bangs and drops such as stainless steel and reinforced glass.

This one here's a Thermos brand Tea Tumbler. The larger size doesn't have an actual filter, though.



neongrey actually showed me a pretty neat looking little Japanese-style teacup with a lid and a strainer. You can take a look at the product here; For Life actually retails to many tea stores, so it shouldn't be too difficult to obtain something like this.



edit: added images for clarification

edit 2: added extras

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Oct 29, 2011 around 02:26

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I tend to reuse leaves upwards of 6 to 8 times in a consecutive sitting, but just letting the leaves rest in whatever container they happen to be in is perfectly fine. Just don't try to reuse the same leaves over multiple days.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Yo Devi, I added some extra bits for your at-home cup question. Hopefully you find a decent cup!

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Neat! Perhaps it is due to export restrictions that we don't see floral blends like that abroad. More commonly, aside from Jasmine tea, you'll see other flowers blended in like orchid or cherry blossoms. My guess would be that lotus doesn't travel that well, or nobody has taken advantage of that market. You could probably make your own if you had the essential oils or the flower petals blended with a green tea of your choice, but I doubt it'd be the same...

Do provide a trip report, though! The company you linked appears to be a large distributor in Vietnam, and the price per unit is pretty decent, too, at least for sampling.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

for anybody that actually reads my posts in this thread i also added some pictures to the gaiwan post a few posts back. check it out!

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

HIME Brand is pretty solid. They have a bancha that I'm quite partial to as well.

In DIY news there are things that are basically hotplates or trivets designed to have a tealight set under them (nominally that is why it is called a "tea light", but whatever); you put a pot or a cup on top of it, and then the tea light underneath the trivet, and boom, instant keep-warm action!

Instructables sent me this pretty solid design but I'd worry about the actual metal plate on top being too hot. Other designs like the one I have are made out of a glass flower brick with the tea light in a recess, so there's no accidentally burning yourself.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Bummer, Devi! Fine mesh or cloth strainers tend to be the best kind for a wider variety of teas that have a lot of particle matter like genmaicha does. I typically go with the teapot method for those kinds of teas and I have a hand held strainer that removes a lot of the gunk that would make the cup bitter and otherwise let you enjoy drinking a cup of tea rather than eating one.

Devi posted:

A couple of people have mentioned PG Tips. I've seen them at World Market and the supermarket I go to. Are they worth picking up to try if you have access to a fancypants tea shop? I don't have any black tea except for old Lipton bags.

I'm of the general opinion that any loose leaf is better than 80-90% of bagged teas, and the price comes out to be the same if you already have a teapot and a strainer. People in the thread appear to like it, though, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference, so if it works for you, by all means go ahead. Bagged teas have the primary advantage of "no muss, no fuss", and easy to discard, too.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I'd say any cheap green tea would work wonderfully for the purpose, as any black tea. White teas are a little more finicky in general so I never tried them, but I'd imagine Silver Needles or Bai Mudan (White Peony) would come out quite refreshing. Pu-erh is right out, though, no matter how cheap it is. Oolongs are a maybe - try an entry grade Tie Guan Yin. Maybe I will try it next summer!

Basically, if it's cheap enough, you can't really hurt by giving it a shot. The shortlist:

* Cheap Japanese green teas (helps avoid the bitterness)
* Cheap Chinese black teas (Yunnan, Keemun, etc. - as long as the leaves are mostly whole)
* Various tisanes?
* Flavored black tea blends like Lychee or Raspberry

Thus far I believe genmaicha and sencha have been the two I've tried, and they turned out quite well. Very refreshing.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I was e-window shopping last night and I saw that Teavana has a yixing thermal tumbler on sale for 30 bucks US. This prompted me to consider writing up a post about yixing, but I don't have much good photos considering the single teensy yixing pot I have is chocolate black and small as heck!

Anyway, if I can get some halfway decent yixing images I'll consider putting up a post about it. In the meantime, BAM.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Sirotan posted:

Well drat, that's really kind of brilliant. Though I really have no idea which symbols are supposed to mean which kind of tea.

The pagoda on black is black tea, the dragon is oolong (from 'wulong', or black dragon), the green tea is self explanatory, and uh I don't know what the symbol is on the white tea one.

This kind of feeds into a topic that I might have some words on about "the right equipment for tea" - while there is certainly quite a bit of purpose driven tea-related gear, there are plenty of times when I have used ghetto methods to prepare tea with decent results. Hell, when I wash oolongs instead of using a fancy draining tray I have a plastic pitcher that I also use to refill my water boiler. Thermoses for hot water at the correct temperature when there otherwise would be none. Rinsed coffee filters in place of tea bags or infusers.

Pretty much there's all sorts of stupid dog tricks that are floating around with regards to tea like the little peeing clay figures that the Chinese use to determine water temperature (thermometers are wusses) and the best part is they all do work if you pay attention to them.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I would say to go to a cafe first since they're used to brewing 'proper' tea and you can't really go wrong unless you leave the tea steeping. Most cafes (I know at least Peet's Coffee & Tea does this) will pack a loose leaf bag of tea and leave it in a cup of hot water, and there's a bunch of tea in there, so if you don't remove the bag quickly you can have the same kind of situation you did before.

If Adagio has a brick and mortar location near you (didn't even know they had physical stores) then by all means go around and be nosy as hell. Seeing how you're willing to spend money on tea stuff means that they are probably much more receptive to give you proper advice and some samples to try out, albeit in small amounts.

With regards to the bubble tea thing, it is just black or green tea steeped in milk plus garnishes (tapioca 'bubbles', jelly, etc) - you can have it hot or chilled. It tends to be quite sweet, so a nice summer treat chilled, and a mostly pleasant one hot in the cold season. I could probably do a how-to on it since I have like six pounds or so of tapioca balls that I haven't done anything with for awhile.

In short, yeah, I'd say as long as there's actual tea in it, it qualifies for this thread, but it ain't my thread so DurianGray and the mods call the shots on that one!

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I think I can probably wrangle together a solid "beginner's tea" flight for the thread to try for people who are looking into getting into tea but they don't know where to start. Really, it'd be just a shortlist of good starter teas to help find out what kinds of teas you like and make some recommendations from there, plus the general equipment.

I'm also working on a SECRET PROJECT but I need to get some more pictures and maybe video? It is, of course, tea related.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Not saying that you're wrong, since there's a lot of people that gently caress around with the formula and you end up removing the tea entirely! I'm just saying that's the traditional base that you'd mix your powder/syrups and milk into. The "bubble" part of bubble tea doesn't come from tapioca pearls, it used to refer to the foam you get from stirring/shaking the tea with the pearls as part of the final mixing step!

Depends on the place, though. I know TeaWay (which is partnered/subsidiary of tuttimelon) actually uses tea in their mixtures, so if you're getting a glorified smoothie...

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Serendipitaet posted:

Can I steep a darjeeling twice or would that be a waste of time?

The best advice I can give is "experiment" like the others were saying. Some black teas take well to resteeps, but flavored black teas, earl greys, etc. that have some type of additive will tend to be notably weaker. Darjeelings are somewhat like that but it really just depends on your personal preference. The only thing you stand to lose is some water, and if it works for you, good!

Speaking of, time for some Foojoy brand Lychee black tea, maybe. It's cold!


Two Foojoy brand black teas

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Most green teas do not age very well but lots of different green teas have distinct flavor profiles, so unless you and your buddy are drinking the exact same teas and they just kept it better than you did, it may be a difference of quality and flavor. Prolonged exposure to air can make the leaves go stale, in addition to exposure to direct light.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Man, so, I tried that Foojoy Lichee black tea, since the box next to it of the Yunnan Gold is actually pretty good.

What a disappointment! The infusion of lychee and the actual tea leaves themselves made the whole cup taste crumby. My old man said he didn't like it, but now that I've actually had a cup, this is probably the crumbiest loose leaf I've had in ages. I have a whole tin of it though, so I might try blending it with some stuff to kick it up, but by itself you'll probably need to just mask it with milk and sugar just to get a decent cup.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I have found in my experiences with Teavana the best is to just shop there for their accessories, which are quite reasonably priced and of decent quality. Teas tend to be found elsewhere, and I was pretty disappointed with their Monkey Picked Tie Guan Yin. Since I come in there purpose-driven with the intent to buy a specific thing, I don't think I particularly was pressured into buying much anything else (maybe a polite request to purchase some teas along with the 'wares). It's really looking rather indecisive when you walk in that places like Teavana will start squeezing for you.

As general tea shopping advice goes, don't go looking to spend more than fifty bucks on your first serious outing for tea. Pick one or two medium-quality samples and a nice small personal teapot with a strainer or some disposable tea bags you can fill.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Captain Stinkybutt posted:

Teavana's accessories are ungodly overpriced what are you talking about

I'm not going to argue personal preferences on tea but they charge like $8 for a $1.50 tea strainer.

At the risk of sounding like a corporate shill I'll say that their quality of product is fairly high for some of their stuff! For functional accessories I'll agree with you that they are pretty ridiculous, but for aesthetic accessories and more expensive stuff such as tetsubin and cast iron 'wares their prices tend to even out. They make their profits mostly on gouging for normally cheap accessories and tea in-store.

Still, the previous sentiments of caveat emptor for Teavana I can most certainly agree with!

Hummingbirds posted:

Genmaicha woes

A couple of things you could try:
  • Shorten infusion time (less than 90sec)
  • Reduce tea quantity
  • Strain as you pour!
The last one is especially important, as fine particulate matter from the tea can make it extra bitter (some people like it like that, I do not). Next time I'll take a picture of the filter I use after a full session of steeping with the five dollar HIME Brand genmaicha that I used in the post I wrote about it a couple pages ago.

neongrey posted:

What would you recommend as a source for a reasonable pu-erh?

Imperial Tea Court has a fairly large selection, but you're in Canada, so I couldn't really say there. Shou bing cha ('finished' pressed cake) pu-erh is the best bet to begin with the stuff, as I understand it; single servings may be better served with tuo cha (bird's nest) pu-erh, though.

Places that have strong roots in China tend to have the greatest selection of pu-erh. If you have a Chinatown in your area, it might be worth poking around there to see if they have a selection at all (and maybe you might find a new place - I've found that those kinds of tea places tend not to advertise online). Otherwise, your best bet might be to import from the US.

Failing that, we should hang some time. I have a Yellow Mark shou bing cha pu-erh that I've yet to bust open and start drinking!

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Nov 8, 2011 around 14:45

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I've been on there since beta as, predictably, aldantefax. Next month if they open up some slots I'll probably hop on board to their Select program since they tend to make good picks for teas!

e: hoho, they are STILL in beta. In any case, I followed Niemat!

Also, Hummingbird, glad to know that worked out well for you. Green teas do well for very short infusions, and even shorter for white teas. You can resteep genmaicha a few times, increasing infusion time by about 15sec each time!

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Nov 8, 2011 around 19:57

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

This is actually the one I was referring to, which was noted as a finished (dark) puerh! https://www.imperialtea.com/Yellow-...Cake-P308.htmlp

Cool puerh shop though. Gonna have to order from them.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I'm not someone who studies how the decaffeination process works but if you're looking for 'decaf' teas then tisane/herbal teas and rooibos should be what you're looking for. Generally speaking, if you want to cut the caffeine in your cup, discard the first steep and steep short. It depends on how your body reacts to the tea though so try different kinds - white teas tend to have a minimal of caffeine, but are also very light on flavor, so it may be a place to start.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

If you know someone who deals with non- herbs in town (there are a few places that do!) then you can roll your own tisanes. Really, though, look into white and green teas (not matcha or gyokuro), since the finishing process tends to dictate the level of caffeine. Also note that in the same chart for caffeine you posted that black tea "can" have "as much or more" caffeine than coffee etc.

Red rooibos tends to avoid the floral scent altogether. If you're looking to enjoy an actual tea before bedtime, though, I've taken afternoon and evening tea up until I decided to lie down for the night and I've not suffered insomnia from it - these are with multiple steeps of oolong (5 to 7 steeps with approx. 1L worth of water?) - I also ended up drinking more actual water prior to going to sleep. Note, though, that I did not add anything to it, merely just leaves and water.

Adagio, like David's Teas, has a fairly beefy section for herbals, which you can find here.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Goddamn posted:

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.

Actually, my old man has this issue w/ the liver, it has to do with the amount of antioxidants are in the tea (he can drink black teas just fine, but he can't eat dark leafy greens or drink green tea past a cup or two).

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I assume you mean a "gong fu tea set", which typically consists of a gaiwan, fairness cup or decanter (cha hai), and tasting cups. It differs from set to set, but some may also include aroma cups, tongs, or a box.

Try this seller on eBay, Devoyniche: Dragon Tea House @ Ebay.

In addition to that, at the end of my post about gaiwan earlier in this very thread I discussed places where you can buy gaiwan towards the bottom of the post located on page 4 or here.

Edit: If you want a travel one on the cheap if you live in the US I can get one from my local store and see about getting it shipped to you, since it has tongs, cha hai, gaiwan (like a 4-5oz one), and 6 tasting cups for like 7 bucks.

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Dec 13, 2011 around 14:33

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Hummingbirds posted:

infuser baskets

That's probably the easiest way of doing it. Brewing loose usually tends to have a messier cleanup with traditional teapots, and for strong-flavored teas, a good quality filter basket will do you right for a long time (just make sure to clean it). When I'm brewing in a traditional teapot and not a gaiwan or a yixing pot or something I will use a Bodum Yoyo infuser (I got it and a desk mug but no lid or other accompanying things for 1.50 at a goodwill).

The one I'd probably recommend for use is probably Finum's brewing baskets, though: link here. They come in a variety of sizes and they are actually much finer than the Bodum infuser (earlier), which is great for teas that have a tendency to expand and stick in the filter holes (this happens to me a lot with certain black teas that have stems).

Also, if you want an all in one solution, you can look at basically any teapot that comes with an infuser. FORLIFE makes a few, and there are plenty if you go to a store like Bed Bath & Beyond, IKEA, Cost Plus World Market, even certain grocery stores, and of course, tea places. I've seen coffee joints starting to sell tea filters as well, but more often than not you'll find those open fill teabags (usually T-SAC or Finum brand).

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

PhazonLink posted:

Can anyone here give some advice/info on resteeping.

It depends on your palate and the overall strength of the tea that you're drinking. Most teas that are intended for resteeping (mostly oolongs and puerh) will tend to have some general guidelines for it. Black tea can be resteeped as well. Experimentation is key to finding out what best suits your palate - leaving the leaves steeping for an hour after three very fast steeps may work just fine for you, while others may find the liquor undrinkable at that point.

If you're looking for general rules, try steeping at least as long as you steeped the leaves originally. Do a taste test to see if it's necessary to let the leaves continue steeping; again, personal preference. From there, you can begin increasing time by anywhere from thirty seconds to double the original brewing time until you're satisfied or the leaves are spent.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Try three things (altogether or separate as needed):

- use more leaves
- use fresh-boiled water that's been let cool for about five to seven minutes (or 175F if you have a kettle that can heat to-temperature)
- steep leaves for longer

I'd caution against using a microwave unless you want to use a thermometer. For something that tastes too watery (I actually have tried that Fruta Bomba stuff) it's probably that the water was not hot enough or not enough of the mix was used.

With respect to additives, try the tea plain first after you make some adjustments. Many people tend to find those fruit-infused green teas a little on the sour side, so a small amount of sugar will punch it up to where it should be in whatever cup you're drinking from (not where you're brewing).

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Don't you live in Chicago? There has to be some Asian supermarkets around there that will sell cut-rate Zojirushi (and other brands of) water dispensers. They're typically found in 3L, 4L, and 5L versions, but they do not heat "to temperature" - they will heat to a boil, then cool down to the temperature of choice. They are plenty enough useful though, I have two, and one I got for 39 bucks from Newegg...

Rosewill Electric Water Boiler/Dispenser

It says it's 50 now though, but that hits your budget, I guess! I can tell you that it is quite effective at its job, and the only temperature it doesn't do is oolong, which, whatever, it's half the price of my other one.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Devi posted:

Speaking of Asian supermarkets--as someone with access to nice, affordable, totally great loose tea should I skip the tea aisle at Asian supermarkets or might there be something tasty and new?

Doesn't hurt to give it a shot. Foo Joy brand is what you're going to see the most of there in terms of loose leaf, and they are respectably priced for everyday teas that you can just go to a store and pick up. If you have a tea store nearby though you probably don't necessarily need to go pick it up. The grocery store in Chinatown Oakland, CA that I go to some times sells a decent variety of their stuff and also sells 5 lb. bags of Foo Joy's jasmine tea (the bog standard Chinese restaurant stuff) for like 10 bucks. So they're hit and miss - their lychee black tea, for example, tastes like rear end.

Other Asian supermarkets may stock other stuff since they are usually family-run, so you might see something like Lupicia teas in Japanese supermarkets and suchlike. Go exploring and you'll probably find something!

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Captain Stinkybutt posted:

I know of plenty of Asian markets in Chicago and the surrounding but I have no idea who would sell "cut rate" Zojirushi stuff. I paid $150 or so for my Zoji rice cooker at H Mart.

I was referring more to off brand hot water dispensers, but as long as the idea gets across that they exist there, there should be a range of them, plus cheaper electric water kettles that have a little finer control than a Rival water boiler for around the same price (mostly due to the shape of the spout and such).

e: Also if you are actually hard up for cheap tea supplies I can go to my local tea joint and put an order in with them for stuff like heating coils and such.

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aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

I own that particular book and I can say that it is quite useful for identifying teas and getting a quick crash course on them and how they should be prepared and some key differences. It does attempt to approach tea similar to wine, using similar terminology, but is on the whole an easily graspable book and well worth the cost. It is shaped tall and shallow for the pages so you can slip it into a bag, purse, etc without too much issue.

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