Tea Time

Just wondering if anyone else likes tea as much as I do–and I’m from the U.S.!

I enjoy all types of tea, but I particularly like Ceylon and Assam, and any Chinese Oolongs & Green.

I thought I’d give tea its representation it’s due, since coffee gets it fair shake–especially over here. Almost every strictly-tea shop goes under within a few months, thanks to coffee’s imperialism. :frowning:

Oh, believe you me: I’m also a coffee drinker, for sure; however, there’s much to be said about the complexity yet subtlety of the different [REAL, loose-leaf] teas.

Three cheers for Tea!

Over here!
In fact I drink probably too much of it. But one has to try to keep tea consumption up.

There are 3 separate sorts of tea I do consume: wake-up tea – which I need until 5pm; normally the blend which got famous as english breakfast tea, but currently calls itself irish breakfast tea. At least 4l daily…

The lazy tea: that’s the largest assortment of tea I have. It’s black tea and green tea and some blends in a astounding variety.

And then there are those special teas. Kuchira Sakura for one, a green tea including, as the name implies cherry blossoms; japanese of course. Dong Dong, which is probably the oldest I do have, from 1982. Mocha from japan, gao shan from china, some kinds of darjeeling. Not for special occasions, but I drink them only when I’m in the right mood.

I have enjoyed Kuchira Sakura as well. Just heavenly.

After knowing the difference between whole leaf tea (REAL tea) and bags, there’s no going back. I try and make my friends in the states privy to this difference, but it’s too much “hassle” for them. When i tell them it in fact takes less time than a pot of coffee, they don’t want to hear.

I have an electric tea kettle to get the exact temperatures for the different varieties.

Jade Oolongs are amazing, and sometimes I feel like the longer roasted ones, like Ti Guan Yin, which borderline on a Darjeeling taste.

Have any suggestions on where to get nice teas on the web?

The Tao of Tea is a great one, out of Oregon, for your everyday and specialty tea needs.

What say you, Zikade?

Coming, literally from the land of Tieguanyin — I’m in Xiamen, South Fujian — the best Tieguanyin — by the way, it should really have the “e” as it is pronounced “tiyeh” in Standard Chinese — comes from Anxi just over the border in Quanzhou — there are three “cities” in the Minnan, South Fujian Area, Xiamen, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou, in all of which Tieguanyin is produced, but Anxi tea is grown at a higher elevation than those in Xiamen and Zhangzhou. Tieguanyin was developed in the 18th century, I believe, and is the origin of the Chinese tea ceremony … I will not join in an argument over the Japanese tea ceremony being developed from that, though it is well possible, since the Japanese borrowed Chinese culture wholesale … but the Koreans claim that much, if not the whole, of Chinese culture came originally from them!

The standard Oolong comes from the Wuyishan area, in North Fujian. Of the varieties of Oolong, you might find Dahongpao; if you do, unless very expensive indeed, it will probably be “third generation”. First generation Dahongpao comes from only 6 trees, which are not picked every year, and are not trimmed into bushes. I believe they were planted for the Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century. The tea from those trees is reserved for the government to be given as a present to visiting Heads of State, but in 2006, 20 grammes came onto the open market … it was sold for 200,000 RMB, US$30,000. Some 2,000 “mu”, 300 acres, was gradually planted over the last couple of decades with cuttings from the 6 trees. In 2006, as a guest in Wuyishan of the Provincial Government, I was able to buy 1/2 pound of second generation Dahongpao, at 3,000 RMB/pound, US$450+ — prepared properly it is absolutely fabulous. Third generation is being grown on 20,000 mu, 3,000 acres, from cuttings from the second generation bushes.

Also from Wuyishan is Zhongshan Xiaozhong, known to us as Lapsang Suchong — a corruption of the local dialect pronunciation of the name. A fully fermented tea — Oolong and Tieguanyin are semi-fermented — if you don’t know it, it has a delightful smoky taste.

The best green tea is reckoned to be Longjing (Dragon well) from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.

Darjeeling, as I understand was originally produced from Oolong plants smuggled out of North Fujian and cured in the Oolong style, hence the similarity in taste.

Keemun, for those who know it, is from Jimen in Anhui Province, north of the Yangtze River, near the famous Huang Shan mountains.

Kaoshan tea is actually from Taiwan Island, so the Chinese will love you for saying it’s from China, and those in Taiwan might not. Kaoshan tea is highly appreciated here in Xiamen.

And the record for the most expensive tea has apparently now gone to a bit of very old Pu’er from Yunnan, whose price makes the 200,000 RMB for 20 grammes of Dahongpao look pale.

You didn’t want to know all that, did you!

Oh, this used to be quite the topic of conversation back in the day on this forum. I’m glad to see that tea drinkers are still making their presence known, and I’m sad to see that the heading is still ‘And Now for That Latte’ and not “And Now for that Mate.” Oh well, they don’t know what they are missing. Mate is, btw, my tea of choice these days. Used to be all kinds of green tea, and I still imbibe green tea as well. But loving mate most of all.

I think we should probably ask Mark to send us some tea. Always nice to have somebody on location.

I do get my tea from teehaus.cöln, the people there are brilliant. I got to know them in 1992, and even after moving across the country they are still my tea providers. And yes, they played a crucial role in turning me from the dark side of roasted, grated coffee beans.

For tea preparation: nothing fancy over here. A cast iron kettle upon a wood-fired oven and some patience; in 2009 I moved to an old cottage, which came fully tooled, so I decided to actually use the old ovens. You do get quite a good feeling for the temperature and the development of heat using such an oven regularly, it’s truly amazing. Granted, the first tries where as complete a catastrophe as one can imagine, but that’s how you learn, isn’t it?

Here we are, meeting and writing about stuff, on a server which is run by a company based in Cornwall, England. Weren’t it the englishmen who first brought tea en masse to Europe?

Thanks for the insights, xiamenese. Like alexandria I’m one of the OG tea sippers hereabouts and frequent the wonderful Tao of Tea house in Portland’s Lan Su classical Chinese garden. Oolongs are still my fave, with tieguanyin ranking at the top along with wenshan baozhong and Ali Shan, but for lower caffeine evening sipping, I’ve developed a taste for white teas as well. I think it’s jingmai white that has the velvety leaves and a complex flavor I’ve never found anywhere else. And I heartily endorse dragonwell among the greens, along with many others. I can only appreciate the lightest of pu erhs and bing chas so far but I delight in exploring the many varieties now becoming available in the US. I like japanese sencha too. Incidentally, most of those from Tao of tea are organic and many are obtained directly from the growers.
I can also recommend Samovar teahouse in san Francisco. I had a Hawaiian grown oolong there last year that Ill never forget. Would appreciate hearing other scriveners’ recommendations of teas and teahouses.

How could one not want to know, if one is not knowing what one does not know? And if one knows what one does not know, then there is only knowing.

Hmm, the ‘they’ I referred to are the others on the forum who are proponents of coffee in favor of tea. It had nothing to do with who lives where and the history of how tea came to the United States. This is part of an old and rather fun thread of conversation, which, I realize, no longer exists.

Hi Brett! I sure miss the Tao of Tea and the teahouse at the Chinese Garden! There is nothing quite like that here in Ashland, I’m afraid. But there are other benefits. Like being minutes away from my horses and mountains and wild country! They do have a couple of nice coffee houses with some tea offerings, but nothing like what is available in Portland! Oolong teas are among my favorites as well, though I find my capacity to tolerate caffeine, even the amounts in most green teas and oolongs, to be troublesome. I also LOVE dragonwell and sencha and for a long while, green tea was all I drank. I have come to love mate while living down here, and I find that the caffeine effects of mate are of a different sort. Somehow less acute. I get less ‘jagged’ from it, while also experiencing a nice caffeine buzz. I am learning about the different kinds of mate and find I prefer a blend of two varieties. There is a coffee house in town that makes the very best mate I’ve ever tasted. I try, but can’t quite match it at home!

Thanks for the update, Alexandria. Glad youre enjoying Ashland and sorry I didn’t make it down there last year. Maybe you can introduce me to the joys of mate when I do. I’ve yet to try it. And please keep posting recommendations here. Of course you and other scriveners can order Tao teas online. And yes it’s possible to swing both ways; I enjoy my morning dose of stump town coffee as much as my afternoon and evening teas!

I’m a tea drinker, but not nearly on par with others here. Any advice for someone who’s used to bags of English Breakfast plopped into a mug of microwaved hot water… but who wants to improve herself?

Jenn, hanging her head in shame

As one amateur tea-drinker to another, this is what I suggest. My go-to tea is Earl Grey, or other black teas, drunk straight (no sugar or milk). The process for green and white teas is different, but I don’t care for them, so I know nothing on that topic…

Get thee a “brown betty” or other tea pot for the steeping of your tea, and something to properly BOIL your water (when making black teas). A whistling kettle is classic, but electric versions are faster and more efficient.

Steep your tea for no more than 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags. Any longer and a black tea (like English Breakfast or Earl Grey) gets bitter. You have no idea how nice your tea should taste if you leave the bag in while you drink. Also: don’t squeeze the water out of the tea bags… you’ll get the bitter particles of tea leaves in your tea all for a tiny gain in liquid volume.

Get a vacuum-insulating thermos if you tend to let it go cold. I like to drink it hot throughout the day at work, where I only have a mug and a microwave, so I use this to have my after-lunch wake-up tea.

One tea bag can make up to 16 ounces of tea (about 2 full coffee mugs).

Eventually, you can graduate to loose-leaf teas, but I have not yet taken the plunge. You can get a lot of mileage with tea bags if you do it right, however.

braces for the real tea aficionados to correct me

I like it simple.

Sweet Iced Tea with enough sugar to make your teeth grow fur and push you over the edge toward diabetes.

I’ve had to give up caffeine for a while now, (and depressingly even decaf tea and coffee still contain comparatively high amounts of caffeine) so I’ve switched to root and fruit teas.

I have a pot of redbush (roobious) every morning, in a glass teapot/tiere kind of thing. Took me a while to accept it wasn’t the scrapings out of an old tobacco pouch, but it grows on you. Whittards have versions flavoured with caramel; vanilla; lemon and something else which escapes me now, which make it a little more interesting as the days go by.

I mix in some goji/acai berry mix when I need something different, and in the evenings I have a fennel/aniseed/licorice tea. Or if I’m feeling wild, I might have some lemon, ginger and echinacea.

Basically, it’s all just dirty water, really, isn’t it?

I thought I might turn into a raving hippy, drinking the above. But I’m still the same old grumpy old so-and-so, I just oscillate at lower frequencies now.

If you have to avoid caffeine and you want a flavored drink there are products like Crystal Light. My wife drinks Crystal Light (Raspberry Ice Flavor) and she loves it as an alternative to drinks such as Coffee, Tea, or soda. (She has to avoid caffeine as well).

Myself I love milk and orange juice as an alternative.

Jenn , I know there are plenty of books and websites that could get you started. For me, the move from bags (which I’ve heard but can’t confirm contain the stuff that falls off the table after the good leaves are taken away for the loose leaf buyers), to loose leaf made a tremendous difference. Ms ybe start with exploring varieties through samplers : green, oolong, good blacks, whites, sencha et al. Then explore within the categories you like. Get advice from a good tea shop and importer. Different varieties require different brewing temperatures and steeping times. I’d start eith oolongs (semifermented) as they’re closest to blacks (fully fermented) than are greens (unfermented)’ and for me have the richest flavors. And I still love Earl Grey; in fact it’s just tea time 4 pm and I’m making my mum and myself a nice pot of twinings Lady Grey, which adds other citrus flavors to the usual bergamot. Good luck!

Yes, please let me know if you ever make it down here. I’d love to show you around the town and the coffee house circuit!

To order Tao teas directly from them, it appears you have to join their club? Do you know of another way to get their teas? I see they have some very interesting looking yerba mate teas! And of course I have favorite teas I can’t get anywhere else.

Oops, never mind. I see I can order tea without joining. Excellent! Thanks for the tip!

Thanks for the tips! I’ve heard there’s a Teavana at the mall down in Albany. Methinks I’ll make my way down there this weekend and hopefully broaden my tea horizons. I have a deadline coming up and will be toiling away at the keyboard for the next few months, so it’s a good time to develop new habits!