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#14865 - 03/27/11 12:57 PM My Cup of Tea
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
Given the popularity of Here's Mud in Your Cup, I thought that it would be enjoyable to start a thread about tea. As a tea enthusiast, I appreciate some of the finer points of the art of brewing. For those who crave additional knowledge, visit Tea (Wikipedia).

When I was child, the only tea that I encountered was bagged tea by Lipton or Tetley. I was not impressed. There's nothing wrong with tea bags, per se, but the problem was that the quality of the tea therein left much to be desired. Connoisseurs tended to prefer loose tea for that reason. I get most of my tea from Harney&Sons and prefer to go directly to their store in Millerton, NY (about a 50 minute drive from my home). There, one can request that a cup be brewed and sampled before buying, as well as the opportunity to enjoy any of their teas in their small cafe (now there's an oxymoron!). John Harney, the founder, is semi-retired but his son Michael and Brigitte, Michael's wife, run the business. Michael is often away buying teas in exotic places while Brigitte minds the store. I highly recommend a visit, if possible. You will find it to be a pleasant, rewarding experience.

I tend to disagree with those who advocate brewing by timing the steep (the Harneys brew that way). My method is to place loose tea in a permanent tea filter and brew it from there. I put water into a Bodum electric water kettle, let it come to a boil, and then pour it into a Pilyvuyt teapot until the pot is half full. This allows the water to go slightly below boiling temperature (tea leaves, like coffee grinds, should never be boiled). I then immerse the tea filter into the pot (it hangs on the rim so it doesn't fall in) and pour more water into the teapot until it is full. I don't time the steep, but instead, I wait a short time, swirl the filter, and then temporarily remove it. This allows me to taste the tea to see if it is ready. Usually, it isn't because I prefer to err on the light side. I then put the filter back and allow some more time, repeating the process until the tea tastes right to me. When it is brewed to my satisfaction, I remove the filter and serve.

I have tried many teapots but I prefer the Pilyvuyt to all others. It retains heat admirably, so the tea does not cool too quickly. In addition, the pour spout is designed very well, making it easy to pour without dripping onto the table. I recommend that a white teapot be used, regardless of the brand, because you will be able to see the color of the tea, an indispensable aid in judging if it is correctly brewed.

The amount of loose tea added to the filter varies with the capacity of the teapot and the type of tea. My teapot brews about 4 cups and I use 4 teaspoons (what else?) of tea. For some teas, Darjeeling in particular, I prefer to use heaping teaspoons because of the high concentration of tannins in that variety. The bouquet appears before the tannins and, if you don't use extra tea, you will have to steep the tea for extra time to extract the flavor; this also brings out the tannins. Tannins cause an astringency that I find to be unpleasant. By adding extra tea, the bouquet can be emphasized without getting too much tannin.

Oolongs, on the other hand, have little tannin and need to be brewed for a long period of time. Naturally, I add extra tea so that I don't have to wait until the next day for a good cup! Green teas seem to require extra time as well, and can be tannic. As with all matters culinary, personal preference is paramount so you will have to experiment to see what suits your taste.

Not all teas are constantly available. Here are my favorite Harney teas, in no particular order:

Sungma (from Darjeeling)
Kenilworth (from Sri Lanka, although they are still called Ceylon teas)
Earl Grey Supreme (better than Earl Grey)
Fanciest Formosa Oolong (Oolongs from Taiwan are better than those from mainland China)
Gyokoru (Japanese)
Black Currant
Rose Scented
Hot Cinnamon Spice
Jasmine
Citron Green
Golden Tip Assam (from Assam, naturally)

Undoubtedly, I have left some out. Another fine tea company is In Pursuit of Tea. I am very fond of the Nantou Oolong. Check out Palais des Thés as well. I particularly like Thé Des Moines.

Hopefully, others will add to the list and share their favorite brewing techniques. Drink tea, live long, and prosper!
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#14868 - 03/27/11 01:54 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Just a small comment re: tea bags. Like you I drank Lipton or Tetley tea for years, until my wife found PG tips locally. If you have to use bags and like 'black' tea, this sure is a step or two up from the two other brands.
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#14875 - 03/28/11 12:31 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
Drink tea, live long, and prosper!

....about the drinking part. Do you add anything to the final brew? Or does that depend on the tea? My wife's mother, who is British, has always had tea with milk and always put the milk in her cup first, so she was adding the tea to milk rather than milk into the tea.

ryck


Edited by ryck (03/28/11 12:32 AM)
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#14876 - 03/28/11 01:27 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: ryck]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
The Brits seem to have a penchant for adulterating tea with milk in just the fashion you describe. (But what would you expect from a culture which has given the world "bangers and mash" and cold toast put out in a toast stand the night before breakfast?!)
The practice carried over into the Raj, with a vengeance, so that even today chai tea is polluted with milk and sugar. {gag – in spades}
Color me purist; I want to savor the taste of the individual tea varieties.

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#14877 - 03/28/11 02:34 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: ryck]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
Originally Posted By: ryck
....about the drinking part. Do you add anything to the final brew? Or does that depend on the tea? My wife's mother, who is British, has always had tea with milk and always put the milk in her cup first, so she was adding the tea to milk rather than milk into the tea.
I like my tea unadulterated; no milk, no sugar, no honey, and definitely no ketchup. tongue When I visited England, I saw that the Brits had the habit of sticking teabags in the pot and leaving them there. They had a separate pot of plain water that was used to dilute the tea in the cup after it had become over-brewed (and, I might add, very tannic). The only tea that I had in UK was from Tetley teabags. I concluded that the English may like their tea, but they don't know squat about quality or brewing techniques. Of course, that's not surprising considering the quality of English food.
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#14899 - 03/29/11 04:16 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
I like my tea unadulterated; no milk, no sugar, no honey, and definitely no ketchup. tongue

Although my wife is a tea drinker, I am not. Alternatively my wife hasn't had coffee for about thirty years. My not drinking tea isn't that I don't like it, I simply never started. I find it interesting that you, like others, not only drink both tea and coffee but are very particular about preparation with each.

Are you also particular about when you have tea, or is it just what you feel like drinking at the time? For example, have you found that certain foods are best followed by a cup of tea rather than a coffee?

ryck


Edited by ryck (03/29/11 04:17 AM)
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#14900 - 03/29/11 04:33 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: ryck]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
We tend to have tea after supper. Tea leaves have a lot of caffeine but the caffeine is extracted much more slowly than in coffee, so a cup of tea tends to have considerably less caffeine than a cup of coffee. So, tea doesn't interfere with sleep. I like coffee in the morning precisely because it wakes me up.

Sometimes, on a cold winter day, we'll brew a pot of tea mid-afternoon. Food is an afterthought because we just enjoy the tea.


Edited by jchuzi (03/29/11 04:34 AM)
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#14903 - 03/29/11 06:58 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
We tend to have tea after supper.

I like coffee in the morning precisely because it wakes me up.

Ditto here on the waking up part. My evening drink has tended to be hot chocolate but perhaps I've been missing out on something. Maybe it's time to give tea a try.

Good thread.....very interesting.

ryck
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#14914 - 03/29/11 06:19 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: ryck]
MicroMatTech3 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Both tea and coffee, in moderation, are good for you. One benefit they have in common is caffeine, which may help to protect the blood-brain barrier:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7326839.stm

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#14916 - 03/30/11 01:05 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: MicroMatTech3]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Although you may want to check out Murray Carpenter's "A Century Later, Jury’s Still Out on Caffeine Limits" in The New York Times (and other newspapers [eg, in the Tuscaloosa News], if you don't have a digital subscription to NYT) on March 29.


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#14917 - 03/30/11 02:44 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: grelber]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
I have realized, at age 66, that "knowledge" about the effects of different consumables (alcohol, caffeine, you-name-it) changes periodically. When I was a kid, chocolate was blamed for causing acne. Now, chocolate has anti-oxidants and is good for you. I also have come to realize that, if I do everything "right", I still won't be immortal. Consequently, moderation is the key. I'm going to enjoy what I enjoy and not worry about the consequences.

The grave awaits, no matter what any of us does. wink
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#14920 - 03/30/11 08:38 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
I have realized, at age 66, that "knowledge" about the effects of different consumables (alcohol, caffeine, you-name-it) changes periodically.

That's for sure. About 20 or 25 years ago, so the details are fuzzy, I watched a TV item featuring an elderly black lady who was then the oldest person in the U.S. It seems to me she was something over 110 years old. Her mind was clear as a bell, she had a great sense of humour, and she remained standing for the interview.

The interviewer asked what she attributed her longevity to, and she replied "These", holding up a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

So I figure if I add something to my consumables, like tea, maybe I improve the longevity odds and get a "quality of life boost" while I'm at it.

ryck


Edited by ryck (03/30/11 08:39 AM)
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#14969 - 04/03/11 04:56 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
.... I thought that it would be enjoyable to start a thread about tea.

Well, now you've done it. I gave tea a try the other evening and quite liked it.


Originally Posted By: jchuzi
The grave awaits, no matter what any of us does. wink

When I was told "You can't take it with you." my response was "Well, if I can't take it with me, I'm not going." Are you saying it's not that simple?

ryck
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#14972 - 04/04/11 02:16 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: ryck]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
In the immortal words of Woody Allen, "It's not that I'm afraid of dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens." At least the words are immortal, sort of.

Allen also said (paraphrasing), "I don't want to be immortal through my works. I want to be immortal by not dying."

Mark Twain said, "If there's no sex in heaven, I don't want to go." I have never read anything to that effect about tea. grin
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#14973 - 04/04/11 02:42 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: ryck]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: ryck
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
The grave awaits, no matter what any of us does. wink

When I was told "You can't take it with you." my response was "Well, if I can't take it with me, I'm not going." Are you saying it's not that simple?

ryck

From Errol Flynn's autobiography...

Quote:
If you've got more than $10,000 left when you die you haven't lived right.

Forgetting about the number (I wonder what it would be if he were writing today?), I love the sentiment, namely that you don't have to worry about taking it with you or leaving it behind if you've enjoyed it all before you go. grin
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#14974 - 04/04/11 04:11 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: artie505]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
That reminds me of an old joke:

The family gathered at the lawyer's office to hear the reading of the late patriarch's will. It said, "Being of sound mind, I spent every cent before I died."
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#14975 - 04/04/11 06:47 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
That reminds me of an old joke:

The family gathered at the lawyer's office to hear the reading of the late patriarch's will. It said, "Being of sound mind, I spent every cent before I died."

cool
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#14977 - 04/04/11 11:43 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: artie505]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: artie505
From Errol Flynn's autobiography...

[quote
If you've got more than $10,000 left when you die you haven't lived right.

Forgetting about the number (I wonder what it would be if he were writing today?), I love the sentiment... grin [/quote]


My guess is that it'd be: "Your bank balance should be zero and your last cheque should bounce."

ryck


Edited by ryck (04/05/11 01:57 AM)
Edit Reason: Try to fix quote format
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#14978 - 04/04/11 11:43 AM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Getting back on topic..........

Originally Posted By: jchuzi
Not all teas are constantly available. Here are my favorite Harney teas....

Originally Posted By: jchuzi
Hopefully, others will add to the list and share their favorite brewing techniques.

My tea drinking has begun with what my wife uses which are Tetley tea bags for her day-today consumption and Lee Valley (yes, the famous tool company) Ceylonese Orange Pekoe.

Lee Valley talks about their tea being grown at high altitude (5,000 feet) and being hand-picked. The latter has the advantage of not including older leaves and bits of twig which would make the tea bitter. They also say that hand-picked means they get only two young tip leaves plus the bud.

I'll leave that debate to those much more knowledgeable than newcomers such as I.

I do, however, have a couple of questions. Where does freshness fit into the equation? With coffee you can grind as you need but I don't think there's the same option with tea....or does it matter?

And, if a person was going to try something more exotic what would you recommend from your list?

ryck


Edited by ryck (04/04/11 11:43 AM)
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#14979 - 04/04/11 12:10 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: ryck]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
RE if a person [were] going to try something more exotic what would you recommend from your list?

Given your location you might want to head to Chinatown on East Hastings the next time you're in Vancouver and look for 6 Happiness Tea.
It's been a long time since I was there (so I don't know where or if it's still findable), but I still have some from way back when and it's fabulously tasty (and I'm not a diehard tea drinker).
It does have the odor of a wharf at low tide, but don't be put off; it'll grow on ya.

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#14981 - 04/04/11 01:07 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: ryck]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
Originally Posted By: ryck
I do, however, have a couple of questions. Where does freshness fit into the equation? With coffee you can grind as you need but I don't think there's the same option with tea....or does it matter?

And, if a person was going to try something more exotic what would you recommend from your list?
In my experience, black teas and oolongs keep quite well. Green teas are a bit more perishable. I keep all my teas in airtight tins and, if the green tea is particularly valuable, in the refrigerator. Otherwise, they are stored at room temperature.

As to exotics, I didn't think that my list included any. Still, if you are unfamiliar with something, by definition it is exotic. Lately, my wife and I have become rather addicted to Hot Cinnamon Spice. It is not, in reality, spicy and the heat is from the water temperature, not anything else. It has a very intense cinnamon flavor and is made from three varieties of cinnamon mixed in with the base tea. Once you start drinking it, it is hard to stop.

Actually, my favorite of all teas is Kenilworth. I have had several Ceylon teas but I'm most fond of this one. If I were trapped on the proverbial desert island and could only choose one tea, that would be the one. The Ceylon bouquet is very pronounced and it feels almost honeyed on the palate.

Thé Des Moines makes a very nice cup. It is a flavored tea with a black tea base. The name means Tea of the Monks in French and is made with a secret recipe of flavorings by real monks. It reminds me of sarsaparilla but undoubtedly that's not in it.
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#14982 - 04/04/11 01:17 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: grelber]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: grelber
...6 Happiness Tea...
It does have the odor of a wharf at low tide, but don't be put off; it'll grow on ya.

Well, not to shunt this discussion into the cheese aisle shocked , that reminds me of Lapsang soochong. The first time I smelled some, it reminded me of a burned down circus (don't ask...). I've since lost that particular association, but I still remember it vividly.
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#14983 - 04/04/11 02:02 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: alternaut]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
I just stuck my shnoz* in both.
Indeed, lapsang souchong is quite smoky. 6 Happiness is a fair bit different, with perhaps an algal scent.

* I prefer Leo Rosten's transliterations over the usual Yiddish ones, in this case sh- for the usual sch- (based on the German origin, pronounced [sh] vs Italian or Dutch [sk]). Whatever.

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#14984 - 04/04/11 02:49 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: grelber]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
[somewhat off-topic]

Originally Posted By: grelber
I prefer Leo Rosten's transliterations over the usual Yiddish ones, in this case sh- for the usual sch- (based on the German origin, pronounced [sh] vs Italian or Dutch [sk]). Whatever.

Not to quibble too much, but that sk in Dutch should be sch, with the 'ch' pronounced as in the Scottish loch. Lachen, toch? laugh tongue

[/somewhat off-topic]
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#14986 - 04/04/11 04:31 PM Re: My Cup of Tea [Re: jchuzi]
MicroMatTech3 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Until April of 2010, when it closed, Ito En on Madison Avenue in New York was said to be the only place in the USA that kept its green tea inventory under refrigeration. I was fortunate to be able to buy two Japanese chawan there for $60 each right before the potter bacame famous and started exhibiting in galleries.

Ito En still has a Website:

www.itoen.com

The company is famous for having solved the problem of bottling brewed green tea without having it oxidize.

As always, a retail store has its fans and its detractors.

There was a restaurant above Ito En named Kai that served three teas with dinner:

Jasmine Green Superior #262 as “welcome tea.” (Ito En carries three jasmine teas.)

Next, Kaiseki Hojicha tea #142 (“roasted twig tea, toasty and warm”)

Finally, a Honyama Sencha (“‘bright’ green tea, generous and soft”).

I had dinner at Kai with some friends once. A woman at a nearby table objected to every dish on the menu. I watched with satisfaction as the waiter finally asked, very politely, why the woman had come to a Japanese restaurant if she did not like Japanese food. It appeared that the only thing to which she did not object was the Kirin beer, which was served in distinctive asymmetric glasses from Japan that I believe are in the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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