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Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Thanks for linking A Cup of Brown Joy, I had forgotten all about it.

I know long steep times are standard for black teas, but I encourage anyone who is new to tea to try steeping for a variety of times, even down to 60 seconds for black teas. Typically the longer you steep the more of that bitter tannin taste comes out. I don't usually steep more than 2 minutes for any black tea. Find the way you like to make tea and don't let anyone tell you it's wrong.

I use these mesh strainer/infuser things to make single cups with loose tea:

It rests in the cup, so you can measure your loose tea out into it while the water boils in the kettle, pour the water in, steep and lift out when finished. Before I got it I would rarely use loose tea because of the extra effort.

For loose tea, my usual choice is Red Rose.

$3 for 8 ounces, and it keeps fairly well.

When I'm in a hurry and need a bag I go with PG Tips or something from Bigelow.


Lemon Lift is one of my favorites from Bigelow. It has very calming, almost sedative effect. Cinnamon Stick and Plantation Mint are good too, along with the classic Constant Comment.

I'd love to hear more from anyone who's actually grown and processed tea. I looked into it a few years ago but decided to wait until I wasn't renting. It seems like you can either start from seed which will take 3 years before the first harvest, or you can buy 2-3 year old plants, but they only ship when the plants won't be harmed by temperature extremes. Can anyone recommend a supplier for tea plants? I may just go with Territorial Seed since they're closer than the other sources I've seen.

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Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005




Watch out for this stuff. It is literally soaking in cinnamon and orange oils. A friend took a whiff a little too close and deep and was retching for a few minutes.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Most larger cities should have a tea shop. That would be the best place to look and sample. Other than that you'd have to find a good source online.

Sudoku posted:

I present a question to you all: When you drink tea, do you usually eat anything with it? I know there's tea cakes and cookies and crumpets and all, but would you drink it with, say, a fast food meal, a pizza, anything of that sort? I tend to have mine by itself without food (I go to soda for that) since I find the preparation time to be a hassle when I'm wanting to eat.

With whatever is for breakfast, sometimes lunch, and in the evenings with apple slices, cheese and buttered toast (marmite or vegemite is a plus) or cheese and crackers. And with pie.

Just get in the habit of starting the kettle first, putting the tea in the cup, and then prepare whatever else you're having. Waiting for the tea to cool down so I don't burn my mouth usually means I actually drink it near the end of the meal.

Cpt.Wacky fucked around with this message at Sep 25, 2011 around 23:19

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Electric kettles are very uncommon here, but available at most stores that sell appliances. I had to buy one for the work lunchroom since the hot tap on the water cooler isn't hot enough.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I warned him and he did it anyways. It is an oddly sweet tea despite not having any sweetener in it, but just too strong for my taste.

Does anyone add in fresh herbs while steeping? I tried a few mint leaves once but couldn't notice any difference.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


DurianGray posted:

Mixing in herbs really only works well if they've been dried previously, fresh ones probably won't have much of an effect, especially mint. The character of fresh herbs is sort of delicate most of the time, at least the sort that you'd want to put in your tea. What might work is adding some in after you've steeped the tea and it's cooled to a more drinkable temperature. It's also possible that just using more of the herbs would help.

I tried a pinch of dried marjoram with no effect, but 4 fresh mint leaves rolled up and bruised gave a very nice minty flavor.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


adventure in the sandbox posted:

Uh oh, I thought Tetley was pretty good, at least better than Red Rose. I love me some British tea though, I should try to find some Yorkshire.

Red Rose is Canadian and I didn't know until just now. I like Red Rose more, on average, than PG Tips but then again I'm using Red Rose loose versus PG Tips bags that spent who knows how many months on a slow boat to America. Ranking them against each other is just personal taste, and I've found a lot of variation between batches in all the mass-marketed teas. Drink what you like, and don't worry about whether it's the "best".

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I've been seriously considering getting an electric cup warmer for work.

I like PG Tips but I find the flavor can vary a lot from box to box. I'd say it's worth trying. If you can, get a small box of the regular and of the special blend.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Right, PG Tips, Yorkshire Gold, maybe Tetley. You might also try Red Rose from Canada.

Abel Wingnut posted:

Does tea damage the body or mind in any way?

If you drink more than a little black tea you can expect to get some staining on your teeth (much like coffee). The dentist may complain a little about having to remove it on every visit, but it's harmless otherwise.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I love cheese so I'll eat just about any kind with tea (and toast). This book was recommended over in the wine thread, but it seems to apply to all types of drinks, might be worth a look: What to Drink with What You Eat

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I'm really liking Twinning's Lady Grey, basically an Earl Grey but with some orange and lemon flavor instead of entirely Bergamot. Can anyone recommend some other black teas along that line?

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Cpt.Wacky posted:

I'm really liking Twinning's Lady Grey, basically an Earl Grey but with some orange and lemon flavor instead of entirely Bergamot. Can anyone recommend some other black teas along that line?

My order of loose leaf Lady Grey came in. It lists the ingredients as black tea, orange peel (3%), lemon peel (2%), cornflowers, and citrus flavoring (bergamot I guess). Good stuff, even better than the bags (of course).

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I think I posted a while back in this thread about adding mint leaves to tea. Adding whole fresh leaves had basically no effect, but bruising them up first gave a nice minty flavor. So a handful fresh and bruised might work for straight mint tea. My peppermint and spearmint starts aren't big enough to harvest yet, but I'll have to try it when they are.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Rigged Death Trap posted:

Now what do you guys think about adding Vervain and mint to tea? it makes the taste of black tea more appeasing somehow.

Did you mean Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora) or actual Verbena? I think Lemon Verbena and Mint would be a good combo.

I can't remember who recommend me some Early Grey type stuff from Uptown Teas a while ago. I got them and have been trying them when I had time at home. From the Earl Grey sampler I really liked the Earl Grey Creme Vanilla. Earl Grey Blue Flower and Earl Grey Lavender were both good too. The Earl Grey Chocolate was a little weird, but then I don't like chocolate mixed with other stuff usually. I haven't tried the other ones enough to form an opinion yet but I'll try to remember to follow up when I do.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I was very happy with my Earl Grey sampler from Upton. I'll pick up a few more samplers next time I order from them. And a big bag of Earl Grey Creme Vanilla, god I love that poo poo.

Also, seconding the Darjeeling recommendation.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I'd like to think they add something to the flavor and aroma, but it's probably just decoration. The Upton Earl Grey Blue Flower smells pretty much like Earl Grey (aka bergamot) to me. Twinnings Lady Grey is another good one that has bergamot, orange and lemon peel, and cornflower petals.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Twinnings is decent for bagged. Tazo is OK too but I find the different flavors are hit and miss.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Hadlock posted:

What are some of the flavors I should avoid with Tazo?

I really don't drink much bagged tea so it's usually just sampling whatever is available when I'm out somewhere that only serves bagged tea. The hit and miss part is just a matter of personal preference so you may want to start with a sampler or two if they have them.

From the ones I do remember tasting... Zen is a nice minty green tea. China Green Tips was too grassy for me. I had Awake once or twice but can't really remember specifics. Herbals are not really my thing but I had the Wild Sweet Orange recently. It has an interesting natural sweetness, but also has a lingering bitterness that I find in most herbals, so it's probably better with a sweetener.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


How much trouble is it to clean those ingenuiTEA things? Their video doesn't show that part. I use a strainer that sits in the cup and it's very easy to lift out and whack on the edge of the garbage can to dump out the leaves, then rinse out under the tap and shake dry.

Sudoku posted:

I love shopping at Upton but I have a terrible problem: Their smallest bag size that isn't a sample tends to be 100 grams. I am but a mortal man who goes through a cup or two of tea a day. I can get through a bag in less than 3 months if I "try hard", but I feel like I'm wasting a shitload of tea when I'm only partially started on it before it degrades, and it's even worse if I find two nice flavors I really like.

How do I handle a ridiculous surplus like this? Find a place that sells in more appropriate quantities? A really, really good preservation method?

Option A: Drink more tea.
Option B: Invest in some air-tight glass jars and store the bulk of the tea in a cool, dark place. Use a smaller air-tight jar for your daily brewing and refill as needed. This way the bulk of the tea isn't being exposed to air nearly as often.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Does anyone use those hourglass-style sand tea timers? I see a few different sets on Amazon with different lengths of time (3/4/5, 1/3/5, 3/5/7, etc).

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I want something quiet and independent, and the novelty factor is a bonus. I'm leaning towards this one with 1, 3 and 5 minute timers:

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Powdered Toast Man posted:

How hot should the water be? I've read elsewhere that you shouldn't boil the water because it can make it taste...flat?

Temp depends on the type of tea. You can heat up to the right temperature or heat just to boil and let it cool. Or get a fancy digital kettle with different settings. I believe boiling for a longer time will remove oxygen from the water. That's why I always dump and refill the kettle instead of using previously boiled water.

I got a small sample of a local black tea blend with damiana in it and probably some other things. Smells kind of like hippies but has nice rich earthy taste. Gonna have to track it down to get some more.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


I've been using an electric kettle at work daily similar to the ones posted. It seems to have some mineralization or something inside the kettle now after a year. Is there a recommended method to clean it out?

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


OtherworldlyInvader posted:

New to this tea-not-from-a-bag thing, and really enjoying it so far. I've got a big jar of delicious local honey, are there any particular teas that would go well with it?

Green tea with honey is a nice combo. I prefer my black teas straight but it doesn't hurt to try it once with just about anything. Worst case you dump it and make another cup without.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Glass lets UV light in which can contribute to stale tea. I use airtight glass jars but I keep them in a cupboard to keep the light out. Airtight is very important along with a stable temperature. With tea shops you also have to consider the volume they do. A big jar could sit on the shelf for a year or two before being refilled. and the bigger the jar is the more times they open it letting oxygen in.

Has anyone done their own tea blending? Is there much more to it than mixing teas and dried herbs together? I have access to a great local herb and spice shop and if I could make anything halfway decent it would be a good way to make a bunch of cheap holiday gifts.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Some people love it, some people hate it. A friend of mine opened a sealed jar of the bags, took a big whiff and ended up retching in the bathroom for a few minutes.

They usually have a sample station set up in the back so you could start there and try a small box of bags first. You'll definitely want something airtight to store it in since all the flavor and sweetness is coming from the orange and cinnamon oils.

Downtown Seattle has at least a few good options for loose leaf so I wouldn't limit myself to Market Spice just for the convenience.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Bagged tea is basically the dust and crumbs left over from processing the loose leaf stuff, so when you think about that way it makes perfect sense that bagged tea is not so great, except for convenience.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


There are plenty of herbal teas with no caffeine but you're going to have a hard time replicating the strong tannins of a black tea.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Mr Kapu posted:

Does a blend of lemongrass and lemon balm count as making my own tea? We dried a ton of both and have been drinking lemony-deliousness for a month now. What can I plant next year if I want to start an actual tea garden? Can you do that?

You can try to grow camellia sinensis. Ideally you would get a 2-3 year old plant grown from a cutting. Less ideally you can try growing from seed. I got 20 seeds and ended up with about 15 that germinated although 7 of them were runty. It takes several years before you can harvest them.

I found this paper to be a good start: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/nph-9.pdf

I think they have a few others on their site that are related.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Green tea is the only tea I'll sometimes add honey too, everything else is straight tea. You probably just need to stir it more. It doesn't take much heat to melt honey but it's not going to mix without a little help.

I keep some bagged tea on hand just in case I end up going somewhere that I won't be able to make loose leaf for whatever reason. Those are the places that will have 10 year old bagged teas if they have anything at all.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


DurianGray posted:

I just noticed recently that at least with some of the honeys that I have, the locally made/unprocessed ( and of course more expensive) honeys tend to do better with mixing and not crystalizing than the more processed, cheap, store-bought honeys. Just wondering if anyone else has found that to be true in their experience.

I was talking with the owner of the Sky River Meadery earlier this year. She used to work in the honey business before starting the meadery. She said something about it having to do with how many times the honey crossed a particular temperature. I imagine the processed stuff has much more chance of being heated and cooled several times.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Cizzo posted:

I guess I never really understood adding sugary things to tea. Then again, I grew up drinking a whole lot of roasted barley tea and I know a lot of tea people who absolutely hate the stuff because it's bitter (i guess?).

I'm almost tempted to try putting honey in green tea just to see what it's all about. Is there anything specific type of honey or will the little bear do?

I drink everything straight. Green tea is the only thing I sometimes add honey to and the generic clover honey seems to work fine. I know some people complain about clover honey tasting like grass so it's probably a good complement to green tea.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


How about constant stirring and blowing across the top? I know stirring makes a big difference when chilling wort for my homebrews.

Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Upton is pretty great. I've been craving the Earl Grey Creme Vanilla ever since I got it in a sampler last year so I just ordered a kilo of it yesterday along with their British Blend sampler.

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Cpt.Wacky
Apr 17, 2005


Those blends look great and should be a good gift although it looks like a lot of the HP ones are out of stock.

An electric kettle with temperature control would be a good upgrade but you may not want to spend that much. I think this Cusiniart model has been recommended by a few folks in this thread. I'm still using the old steel kettle at home on the stove and a non-temp control electric kettle at work though.

On the other hand some people collect tea pots like others collect shoes, so a nifty glass pot might be a good idea.

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