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Thread: The Perfect Tea?

  1. #1
    Ideas bounce around in my head Jason's Avatar
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    The Perfect Tea?

    Recently while on the road and delivering training, I came down with a throat cold that threatened to sideline me on very short notice. I started a regimen of that High Vitamin C count stuff called "Emergen-C" along with some tea, honey, and lemon. The week is done, and I have become a new fan of tea!

    Don't get me wrong, I still love my morning java, but the soothing and peaceful non-caffeinated start and end to the day of a tea has become quite enjoyable. I am learning all about teas and have tried several, including a number of green teas, Earl Gray, Sweetgrass, and even a Chamomile from a number of different makers - Celestial Seasonings, Stash, Bigelow, Lipton, and others. Apparently you can also make your own from tea leaves and blanks. I've seen tea leaf infusers too - it's an entire industry!

    Would love to hear others favorites, so throwing it out there: what kinds of teas do you like, and what are your favorite makers? If you make your own, what kinds of leaves do you blend? Do you have any paraphernalia or accessories that are your "must haves" when making the perfect tea?
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  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    Recently while on the road and delivering training, I came down with a throat cold that threatened to sideline me on very short notice. I started a regimen of that High Vitamin C count stuff called "Emergen-C" along with some tea, honey, and lemon. The week is done, and I have become a new fan of tea!

    Don't get me wrong, I still love my morning java, but the soothing and peaceful non-caffeinated start and end to the day of a tea has become quite enjoyable. I am learning all about teas and have tried several, including a number of green teas, Earl Gray, Sweetgrass, and even a Chamomile from a number of different makers - Celestial Seasonings, Stash, Bigelow, Lipton, and others. Apparently you can also make your own from tea leaves and blanks. I've seen tea leaf infusers too - it's an entire industry!

    Would love to hear others favorites, so throwing it out there: what kinds of teas do you like, and what are your favorite makers? If you make your own, what kinds of leaves do you blend? Do you have any paraphernalia or accessories that are your "must haves" when making the perfect tea?
    First, only decaffeinated or herbal teas are caffeine-free (or close). Black, white, and green teas all have caffeine -- generally less than coffee, but it depends. A cup of coffee has around 90-100mg of caffeine. A cup of black tea, which generally has the most caffeine, has like 50-60, a cup of white (again, depending; silver needle is much more caffeinated than pai mu tan) has nearly that, and green runs around 30-40, but there are variations there too. Those are all 8oz cups, so if you have a medium coffee, but a big mug of tea at night, you're probably getting the same amt. of caffeine.

    That said, I love tea! I tend toward either loose (most mass-market bagged teas use the dregs of tea leaves, little chopped bits and dust that doesn't have the flavour that full leaves do) from local shops or some specific brands I like, like Waterfall and Palais des Thes.

    I have other stuff too -- Harney & Sons makes a White Earl Grey I really like, because I like white and bergamot, heh; I generally have a box of Yorkshire Gold or PG tips kicking around, because it's just a homey, basic black tea -- it's like childhood comfort food, same as a couple other teas that are more "fancy." I learned how to make tea with a pot, a ball, and a proper metal teapot cozy as soon as I could be trusted around hot water.

    I like white a lot (pai mu, not silver needle) I'm not really into flavoured at all, except for smoked. There's a heavily smoked black tea Palais sells that's the most amazing thing -- it's like the perfect winter tea, smells like a crackling fireplace, has a smokey, rich flavour. For herbal I like chamomile, honeybush (which I love iced in the summer too), peppermint... Green, I'm picky, I like some roasted green, green with different florals sometimes, but depends; I like a lighter green or, if it's a grassier, then a much younger.

  3. #3
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Okay, so the default Texas answer is supposed to be: a gallon of super-sweet sun tea brewed in the kitchen window with extra ice.

    However: Earl or Lady Grey ("breakfast tea" works, too). 2 sugars, no milk.

    (Earl Grey is a black tea, not green, isn't it?) And do not try and make me drink Oolong. I will throw a kettle at your head.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    There are black, green, and white Earl Greys. Basically Earl Grey is tea with bergamot -- originally it was indeed black (Chinese), and traditional Earl Grey, like if you just ask for a pot of Earl Grey, will be black.

  5. #5
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    I buy bulk black tea from the local plantation, Nerada. I also drink rooibos from South Africa and peppermint tea.


  6. #6
    I like to make my own herbal tea blend of nettle, alfalfa, red raspberry leaves, ginger, and a little nutmeg (equal parts of the first three, to taste for the last two). I don't have paraphernalia, I just boil water in a pot, take it off the burner, and throw in the loose mix and let it steep for a couple minutes before straining it into a mug with a fine sieve (I did buy the fine sieve special because regular sieves aren't fine enough and I wanted something reusable). To this I'll add a little brown sugar (not white sugar, not honey, not an alternative sweetener) and a little bit of cold-pressed coconut oil (i.e. the kind that still tastes like coconut). It's pretty good, and supposedly high in minerals, too.

    I've also discovered that I actually like black tea as long as it's not brewed too long (it gets bitter quick) and as long as it's plain, no sugar no cream.

    I need to try other teas at some point now that I've learned the bitter/sugar thing.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Overbrewing/steeping does increase the tannic level and can cause tea to be bitter (and cloudy if you leave it to cool) -- brewing at too high a temperature can make tea bitter too. Different teas take different temperatures. There are electric kettles that have buttons for black, green, etc., but you can use trial and error (and/or a thermometer) to figure what you like. Black does generally brew hottest but you might try taking the water off the heat for a minute or so before brewing and see if that helps as well.

  8. #8
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Check out UptonTea.com. It's educational, and it's fun to try several samples.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    Overbrewing/steeping does increase the tannic level and can cause tea to be bitter (and cloudy if you leave it to cool) -- brewing at too high a temperature can make tea bitter too. Different teas take different temperatures. There are electric kettles that have buttons for black, green, etc., but you can use trial and error (and/or a thermometer) to figure what you like. Black does generally brew hottest but you might try taking the water off the heat for a minute or so before brewing and see if that helps as well.
    I read about this! About the different teas having different brewing temperatures, that is.

    Unfortunately, I drink it at school and don't have control over how hot the water is.

  10. #10
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Don't forget that altitude affects the boiling point of water. Where I am, water boils at about 97.5C, which is enough to make a difference in taste.


  11. #11
    Special Snowflake? No. Hailstone RedRajah's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of Irish Breakfast, Assam and Darjeeling right now for black tea. For herbals, I like toasted almond, lemon ginger and turmeric citrus.

  12. #12
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Toasted almond? Oh, that sounds delish. Must check it out.



  13. #13
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    Yorkshire Gold. With lots of milk and sugar.
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    reading all the things Anna Iguana's Avatar
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    I love Bigelow Vanilla Chai (a black tea).

    I also love to make a pot that's half black, half green. The flavor's plenty strong and maybe it's healthier.

  15. #15
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    I definitely recommend coconut teas (green, black, and rooibos have all been great with coconut) and mint chocolate rooibos teas for anyone that likes sweeter teas. Rose and Lychee are also amazing.

  16. #16
    pretending to be awake onesecondglance's Avatar
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    The English are here! They have strong opinions on tea!

    Actually, despite us drinking a lot of tea, we mainly drink just the one variety, which is a blend of black teas. So probably not the best authority on it. BUT in line with our national character we like to think we are

    If you're making me a cuppa, it needs to be made in a teapot (I don't know why, it just tastes better brewed in a pot), with properly boiling water. I am a "milk first" person (I add tea to milk, not the other way around), and, controversially, I prefer skimmed milk. It leavens the bitterness without adding too much milk taste. And no sugar, thank you.
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  17. #17
    cutsie-pie Curlz's Avatar
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    I like to get special blends from the tea shop, so I'd recommend you find a nice tea shop near you and buy something different every time.
    As a curios variety, you can try Linden Tea (from the flowers of a lime tree), it's very fragrant but goes nicely with some honey, too. You can also make your own, just need some lime tree flowers but they need to be left at home to dry, otherwise they're tasteless when fresh. Different tree varieties might vary in taste, too, so perhaps store-bought one would be best to try first.

  18. #18
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin altoid967's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post

    I like white a lot (pai mu, not silver needle) I'm not really into flavoured at all, except for smoked. There's a heavily smoked black tea Palais sells that's the most amazing thing -- it's like the perfect winter tea, smells like a crackling fireplace, has a smokey, rich flavour.
    Tell me more about this smoked tea. I tried something called Caravan tea (by Twinings I think), and it was like trying to drink a burning log. Was I the victim of shoddy work or is this generally how all smoked teas are?

  19. #19
    cutsie-pie Curlz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by altoid967 View Post
    Tell me more about this smoked tea. I tried something called Caravan tea (by Twinings I think), and it was like trying to drink a burning log.
    Have you tried Lapsang Souchong?

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin altoid967's Avatar
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    I have not. Do you recommend it?

  21. #21
    King of the Kitties Quentin Nokov's Avatar
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    I used to order Gunpowder Green Tea from the English Tea Store. I don't know if they're as price effective as other local or online sources, but their stuff was always high quality. I wouldn't actually drink the green tea, I would take the leaves straight. It helped relief some of my ulcerative colitis symptoms, but eventually it seemed like the Green Tea stopped working. I don't really drink tea; when I do it's usually peach flavored. I love peach. Anything peach is fine by me. I do like the Peach Iced Tea the best. . .with lots of sugar. . .with lots and lots of sugar. I know most people will say it doesn't count, but if Snapple Peach Ice Tea counts, that's my jive!

    My sister loves her teas. She drinks chamomile and catnip medicinally to relieve anxiety or help her get to sleep. For the ladies out there, just and FYI catnip can cause uterine contractions that can induce the menstrual cycle. I know my sister will use the catnip every once in a while if mother nature decides to take her jolly sweet ol' time making her monthly visit. Within a day maybe two of taking the catnip, it arrives. I've known a couple other women who've had positive results with it as well.

    My Dad drinks Earl Grey, Black, Green & Nettle Leaf. He's always been a tea drinker, never coffee. I got him started on the Nettle Leaf these past few years because he was having kidney problems. He hated the nettle leaf tea. "Taste like straw," he said. I'd make it up for him and set it in front of him and he'd just sigh irritably. He'd drink it, though. I had read that Nettle leaf, quote: "helps maintain the flow of water through the kidneys and bladder, thus promoting smooth urination. At the same time, nettle leaf helps keep crystals from forming into stones and keeps bacteria away. "

    Well, after drinking it for a while, he ended up passing a kidney stone. It was painful, but no surgical intervention was needed so he was like, "Huh, maybe the stuff does work after all." My dad has had a lot of kidney stone problems due to the Crohn's. Last year he had another attack, and it was pretty bad! They had to go in and remove it and he had a stent in for a few days, developed a kidney infection / UTI. It was horrible. They did a cat scan and could count how many stones he had in the kidneys. He decided to try the nettle leaf tea again and drank it pret'near every day. When he followed up like six months later to the urologist, they did another cat scan and found no stones. Nada. None. So. . .we think the nettle leaf tea did its job. He doesn't drink nettle leaf all the time now, but he does try to keep up on it since it seems to prevent the formation of stones and also cleanse the kidneys of them.

    My family has always preferred natural medicine over pharmaceuticals, because that's just the way we are. We do discuss all herbal supplements with our specialists and/or our primary doctors.

    But, anyway, that's what my family drinks in the way of tea and the reasons behind it.



    Disclaimer: In no way am I endorsing herbal remedies over professional medical advice, but I do believe information is power, whether for personal use or for story use. If you're experiencing any medical problems and are interested in herbal remedies do your research and collaborate with your doctor before taking. As for catnip, due to its feminine qualities, be careful taking catnip if your pregnant or trying to become pregnant and stop all herbal supplements at least two weeks before surgery or as specified by your doctor. (Says fast and monotonously like the warnings in pharmaceutical commercials.)

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    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by altoid967 View Post
    Tell me more about this smoked tea. I tried something called Caravan tea (by Twinings I think), and it was like trying to drink a burning log. Was I the victim of shoddy work or is this generally how all smoked teas are?
    Lapsang Souchong is the go-to smoked tea; a milder smoked tea is available from Celestial Seasonings as Morning Thunder.

    I suspect the Caravan Tea was Russian Caravan, which is a blend and can be a little different from maker to maker.

  24. #24
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin altoid967's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AW Admin View Post
    Lapsang Souchong is the go-to smoked tea; a milder smoked tea is available from Celestial Seasonings as Morning Thunder.

    I suspect the Caravan Tea was Russian Caravan, which is a blend and can be a little different from maker to maker.
    Thanks. The more you know.

  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by altoid967 View Post
    Tell me more about this smoked tea. I tried something called Caravan tea (by Twinings I think), and it was like trying to drink a burning log. Was I the victim of shoddy work or is this generally how all smoked teas are?
    Victim, I'd think -- since Twinings fucked with their Earl Grey and made it taste like drinking an old floral arrangement I won't touch them at all.

    The one I'm talking about smells like a fireplace (in the best way, not like charred, like a smokey wood scent that you'd sniff from down the lane walking up to the house way) and tastes smooth and hickory-ish. The tea is smoked over a low fire, the way people smoke meats.

    Taste is really personal though, if you don't like smokey things, you might not like it, but everyone I've given it to loves it. It's got a smooth, soft woodsmoke thing going on taste-wise, but it's very fragrant. I was trying to figure out which one it was, but I can't from the website (the store near me closed recently and they moved all online -- I used to go in and ask for the smokey one and they'd hold out the giant tin to confirm, heh).

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