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By Rainy in Culture
Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:41:38 AM EST
Tags: Food (all tags)

This story is about good teas and how to brew them.

TEA Poem
Tender and Fragrant
Tea is Adored by Monks and Poets.
Prepared in White Jade Dishes Couched in Softest Red Silk,
the Topaz-hued Leaves Growing in the Fields are Yours in a Trice;
Ready to Accompany You to Enjoy the Bright Moon of Night and to Greet the Rosy Clouds of Early Dawn.
Never in Ancient or Modern Times Has One Ever Been Tired of Taking it -- Never Can it Be Praised Too Much in the Presence of Those Who Love to Be Drinking!

English translation by Ms. An Yu-bin, Shandong Province, PR China

First off, a 'top ten' of good tea tips:

1. Good tea is not to be found in supermarkets. Tea from supermarkets tastes plain and bitter. High quality teas are sweet, complex and fragrant.

2. Good tea is almost never sold in tea-bags - instead, it comes in loose leaf form - dry leaves in a packet or a tin that you scoop out with a spoon and put in your tea pot.

3. Best teas are found in specialized tea stores; in most places the easiest way is to order tea from online stores - see bottom of this story for links.

4. Despite coming from the same plant, different tea harvests vary greatly in taste - ranging from very mellow flower or fruit taste to extremely powerful earthy taste. Some teas differ as much as coffee differs from wine - in taste.

5. There are five types of tea: black, green, white, oolong and pu-erh.

6. Tea can be naturally decaffeinated without loss of flavor by infusing it, pouring the water off and infusing it a second time. Only teas of high quality can be infused up to seven times without loss of flavor. Second infusion may have 30-50% of caffeine, 3rd, 30-50% of that, and so forth.

7. Green and white teas are never infused with boiling water. Highest quality, and tenderest teas are infused with barely warm water; lower quality ones with hotter water. Blacks and Pu-Erhs are infused with boiling water. For oolongs you should use water that's slightly colder than boiling.

8. The most practical all-around implement for tea making is a ceramic teapot with a removable infuser basket with a handle. It's easy to clean and keeps the tea hot for a long time: when covered with a small blanket, it keeps fairly warm for ~3 hours for me. Infuser basket allows you to take out the leaves so that tea won't get over-infused - bitter and metallic in taste.

9. There is a funky way of preparing tea called Gong-Fu. You have to fill a gaiwan - special lidded cup - with tea leaves, 1/3 volume, and infuse it for 10 seconds; increasing to 5-10 seconds with successive infusions. Gong-fu to tea is what Espresso is to coffee. It only works for darker Oolongs, blacks and pu-erh teas.

10. Tea is 4-5 thousand years old. It's the most popular beverage out there - although most of the tea drank is of low quality. High quality teas can be fairly pricy - up to $200 per pound, but many good teas are less than $20 for a pound - ~ 10 cents per cup.

11. (bonus tip) The best first teas to try is Keemun. Coming from a good vendor, tea from this province is almost certain to taste great - sweet, fruity and sometimes smoky; and if you infuse it for too long or not long enough, it will still taste good unlike some other teas.

12. (another bonus tip) Tap water can sometimes be unsuitable to make good tasting tea. Try using filtered or spring water. Don't use hot tap water - it may have high levels of lead in it. If you filter water, use it right away or it may yield a flat-tasting cup due to de-oxygenizing- this is important!

Types of tea

China's two best known black teas are Keemun and Yunnan. Keemun has rich, fruity taste. It's perfect for a newbie to try: it won't disappoint even if you overbrew it or underbrew and even if you buy a cheaper variety. Yunnan is silky and also a good first try. It's hard to mess it up.

Pu Erh is an unusual tea which taste can be given as "earthy". Imagine yourself in a wet, dark forest after midnight. You come over an old rotted log and see there's a bit of rain water gathered in its crevices. You scoop it up and gulp it down. It tastes just like Pu-Erh! It may sound like nobody in their right mind would go for it, but it's surprisingly refreshing and even tasty. If you like forest and close your eyes, it just might take you there. Of green and black pu-erhs, green is most disagreeable.

India's two foremost tea districts are Assam and Darjeeling, and the two underdogs are Nilgiri and Sikkim. Assam is known for its malty taste; a good, expensive assam is a treat, but I had less luck with cheaper assams. Darjeeling is the most expensive black tea, sweet and astringent; sensitive to variations in brewing time. As little as half a minute can turn a great cup sour. Beware. Sikkim is somewhere in the middle between these two in taste. Most of Nilgiri crops are of lower quality, but some harvests are well worth the price.

Ceylon is the old name of Sri Lanka. Their tea still carries the old name; ceylon tea taste is best known in the west out of all teas; it's brisk and strong. I'm not a big fan but this may be one of the best teas to wake you up in the morning - and it stands up good to milk.

Lapsang souchong is a tea from Taiwan. It's notable for its smoky flavor. Beware: you may get an impression it's no more than a few pieces of tar posing as tea. Some like it this way, though; I for one think I get enough tar in my lungs living in New York. To be fair, though, I only tried one variety, and it was quite too much for me. Russian Caravan blend is the other smoky tea kind, thankfully much less so than lapsang souchong.

White tea is made from buds and very young leaves. It is pale green in color, but less so than green tea. It has a mellow, gentle flavor.

Green tea is often vegetal in taste. It's not oxygenized like the black tea.

Oolong is slightly oxygenized then dried, it's somewhere between greens and blacks.

Black tea is fully oxygenized, resulting in strong taste.


Infusion time is 2-3 minutes for white and green, 3-5 for black, 4-7 for oolong, 5-7 for pu-erhs, and 1-2 for darjeelings. Note that darjeelings are very sensitive to infusion time, slight over-infusion can make it too bitter, the same is true for greens to a lesser degree; blacks vary, and pu-erh can be infused for hours and it'll still taste good - or no worse, at any rate. By the way, darjeeling is a black tea, but it's different from other blacks in this regard.


Tea fans usually prefer strait, pure tea without any additions. Tea flavor can be so complex and tasty that any other, stronger flavor will simply "cover it up". More often than not, additives are used to hide the particular tea's poor taste. All this said, there are some exceptions when a great tea is carefully accented with a number of natural flavors. The most popular ones are jasmine, bergamot oil (Earl Grey) and Rose. Milk is often added to strong black teas. Honey and lemon juice may be added to black and oolong teas. Whites and Greens are drunk without any additions: their taste is too gentle.

Indians (of Asia) make a beverage with tea, milk and varied spices. This mix is called "masala chai".


One of the most versatile and amazing pieces of tea-ware is a gaiwan. Gaiwan is a small cup with a saucer and a lid. It can be used both as a teapot and a cup. In addition, you can use it for Gong Fu method of preparation (see above in tips).

Yixing teapots usually are tiny pots made of special type of porous clay. They are exclusively used for Gong Fu method and after a long time they get 'seasoned' with the tea so you can brew tea using plain water, with no leaves. Tea fans recommend using separate pot for each type of tea, e.g. one for oolongs, one for blacks and one for pu-erh.

Tetsubin iron teapots are often used for Japanese green teas. These hold heat better than any other pot.

Jenaer - a German company - makes pretty glass pots. Unfortunately, these get dirty quickly - with all the tea tannins - and are very hard to clean, especially the infuser holes. Great for showing off but not the best every day workhorse.


If you want your tea to keep its taste, you must keep it away from light and in airtight container. Even then, it'll lose some of its flavor in 2-3 months. If you need longer storage, pack it tightly in a freezer bag and refrigerate it in a freezer.

Sun Tea

If you are on a beach or camping out somewhere, with no fire, you can try making sun tea. Simply put a cup with tea leaves and water under direct sunlight for an hour or two. I tried this without any problems, but I have to note that this may be dangerous because bacteria that may be in water are put in perfect conditions for multiplying. You may try this same method without the sun: it'll simply take longer.


If you'd rather not mail order, the best tea available in supermarkets is twining's looseleaf tea in tins. It's not terribly complex but it'll give you a decent strong cup, perfect with milk.


I took some material for my story from this FAQ:

rec.food.drink.tea FAQ

I'm not associated with these companies in any other way than being a satisfied customer:

Special Teas

In Pursuit of Tea


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


I drink..
o tetley 9%
o twining 16%
o looseleaf tea from a tea shop 30%
o wine 5%
o lipton 12%
o vodka 7%
o coke 10%
o drink? I sniff coke! 6%

Votes: 120
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o rec.food.d rink.tea FAQ
o Special Teas
o In Pursuit of Tea
o Also by Rainy

Display: Sort:
Tea | 235 comments (171 topical, 64 editorial, 0 hidden)
Start Tea (end tea) (2.25 / 4) (#1)
by A Proud American on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 10:23:22 PM EST


The weak are killed and eaten...

He must be feeling right tea'd off with you now... (4.00 / 6) (#31)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 05:05:55 AM EST

His story is teatering on the brink and all you can do is tease him? I suppose that you think you're teaching him a lesson? At best you're acting like a teanager, at worst like a teathing baby. Stop it or there may be tears!

I'm going to watch some tea vee now.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

Quit TEAming up on him. (en tea) (2.66 / 3) (#69)
by BadDoggie on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 11:21:17 AM EST


"Non videri sed esse." — Tycho Brahe "Not to be seen but to be."
[ Parent ]

new recipes (2.25 / 4) (#2)
by United Fools on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 10:36:32 PM EST

Can we mix tea and beer? Or even coffee and aclocol? Then people can have a lot of drinks without being drunk, right? Then they can stay awake and drive after a lot of beer. We have solved the drunk driver problem.
We are united, we are fools, and we are America!
recipes (5.00 / 3) (#15)
by horny smurf on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 12:04:48 AM EST

not alcoholic, but 'The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking Techniques' lists a couple recipe for duck and fish that are smoked with tea leaves. It also describes 'Toasted Rice Tea' which is tea leaves + roasted rice for a subtle nutty flavor.

[ Parent ]
Toasted rice tea, yum! (5.00 / 3) (#26)
by scruffyMark on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 02:27:12 AM EST

That's great stuff. I have some that's Japanese, not Chinese. Not much left though, nearly out...

I'm not really sure what the difference is between the two styles of tea. I've like Japanese tea better than Chinese when I've had it but that's not surprising - my experience of Chinese tea has largely been very weak tea that comes with the menu in Chinese-ish restaurants in the West, while I've actually had Japanese tea made by Japanese people in their houses (some of them also gave me the aforementioned toasted rice tea), so of course it'll be better.

[ Parent ]

you didnt say "Japan" enough (4.00 / 1) (#206)
by Hana Yori Dango on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:24:33 PM EST

please, use this comment as another way to tangentially associate yourself with Japan.

[ Parent ]

Ummmm (none / 0) (#221)
by scruffyMark on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 08:30:45 PM EST

OK, given the link in your sig and you email address, I'll assume you can't be saying associating yourself with Japan is a bad thing.

So, apropos of nothing at all, how about that Orix Bluewave...

No, seriously though, do you think Japan is somehow so god-walloping glamorous that it would attract such colonial sycophantic name-dropping from a self-respecting Canadian? Anyway, I'm a Euro-weenie - I try to impress people by tangentially associating myself with Germany and the UK.

[ Parent ]

who's talking? (4.00 / 1) (#225)
by brkn on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 11:50:32 PM EST

This coming from someone with an anime title for a nickname and an email address at a 'japan.com' domain?

Assumption is the mother of all fuckups
[ Parent ]
Coffee and booze, of course (5.00 / 2) (#24)
by scruffyMark on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 02:23:00 AM EST

Aside from the oversweet Irish coffee-type drinks, coffee makes a marvelous chaser for lots of different liqueurs (Grand Marnier is heavenly). I often get strange looks in bars when ordering dark rum and coffee (mixed, not as a chaser). Unfortunately most bars have pissy weak coffee, but when the coffee is nice and strong, it's a lovely drink.

Tea is sometimes used as a source of tannin when brewing wines/ciders from fruit that contains little or no tannin, or in mead (honey wine). There though it's usually just like a pot of tea for four or five gallons of booze, so that's not quite what we're after.

Problem is, tea has such a delicate flavour, it's too easily overwhelmed by whatever you would mix with it. The alternative, making it really strong and bitter, doesn't really lend itself to good drinks.

And, of course, adding caffeine to booze is actually worse - then you get a wide awake drunk who insists on driving home rather than a sleepy one who crashes on a couch.

[ Parent ]

Brandy is the way... (5.00 / 2) (#161)
by Dr Seltsam on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:21:57 AM EST

If you like the coffee/rum combination, I recommend you try out the following: Order a large (double) espresso, put in a good amount of sugar. Drink it. On the bottom remains a good amount of foam and some undissolved sugar. Add some good spanish brandy and stir. Perfect. Especially after a good meal.
The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
[ Parent ]
I'll be sure to, thanks (nt) (none / 0) (#185)
by scruffyMark on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 04:50:15 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Yup (5.00 / 1) (#152)
by ph317 on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:37:32 AM EST

Two references for you:

"Irish Coffee" drinks - There are many varities, it usually involves putting 1-3 shots of liquor into a large cup of coffee.  Usually the liquors of choice are milky, chocolaty, coffee-flavoured, or minty - things like Bailey's Irish Cream, Creme de Menthe, chocolate liquers, or Kahlua.

"Buzz Beer" - From The Drew Carey Show - a running theme in the movie is that Drew Carey and his freinds run a beer brewery in their garage.  The beer they produce is called "Buzz Beer" and it's loaded with caffeine for the same reasons you stated above.

[ Parent ]

Oh yeah (none / 0) (#153)
by ph317 on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:38:51 AM EST

I should add that many other people also take hard whiskey shots in coffee and calll it Irish Coffee too, but I hate that taste so I don't think of it :)

[ Parent ]
Absolutely (4.00 / 7) (#7)
by Urpo on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 10:51:13 PM EST

it should be noted that Thomas de Quincey, the author of Confessions of an English Opium Eater once sensibly noted that "Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervouse sensibilities...will always be the favored beverage of the intellectual."

Entirely true, of course, and quite damning of the notion among "hackers" that their disgusting mountain dews and coffees are somehow 'brainfood' or indeed at all conducive to flexing the old intellectual muscles. Retarding, is more like it. Perhaps computer hackers just aren't as smart as they think? Or perhaps real intellects can only ever be produced by tea drinking countries. This seems to be backed up by the facts.

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.

Don't be ridiculous (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by Pac on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 11:22:13 PM EST

"the notion among "hackers" that their disgusting mountain dews and coffees are somehow 'brainfood'"

You're speaking out of your intellectual ass, smart-boy. No one thinks Mountain Dew and coffee are  "brainfood". They're just ways to keep awake through the coding night.

Or perhaps real intellects can only ever be produced by tea drinking countries. This seems to be backed up by the facts.

Top tea drinking countries(absolute numbers):
India, China, Russia/CIS, UK, Japan, Turkey, Pakistan, United States, Iran, Egypt, Poland, Australia

Top tea drinking countries(per capita/year):
Eire, UK, Kwait, Turkey, Qatar, Iran, Sri Lanka, Syria

You must have a quite wierd notion of what a "real intellect" is...

Evolution doesn't take prisoners

[ Parent ]
Splitting hairs (3.00 / 6) (#14)
by Urpo on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 11:49:16 PM EST

No one thinks Mountain Dew and coffee are "brainfood". They're just ways to keep awake through the coding night.

They think it allows them to stay awake through the night. Meaning: they think it allows them to code better through the night. Meaning: they think it allows them to use their brain better through the night. That wasn't hard, was it?

You must have a quite wierd notion of what a "real intellect" is

Not really. Those tea drinking nations have provided some of the world's greatest intellects and essentially defined the modern world. Coffee drinking nations don't have anything to compare to the intellectual history of tea drinking nations, from ancient China to Adam Smith.

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
[ Parent ]

Non Sequitur (5.00 / 2) (#32)
by rodoke3 on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 05:06:14 AM EST

They think it allows them to stay awake through the night. Meaning: they think it allows them to code better through the night. Meaning: they think it allows them to use their brain better through the night. That wasn't hard, was it?

In my experience, being able to stay awake during the night only means that you are able to use your brain for longer periods of time. This doesn't really mean that they code better, just longer. Unless, of course, by better you just mean producing more code. It may help you finish one more function before you quit, but it will only help you write better code only as far as the fact that you now have "more time" to improve it.

I take umbrage with such statments and am induced to pull out archaic and over pompous words to refute such insipid vitriol. -- kerinsky

[ Parent ]
coding at night (5.00 / 1) (#142)
by martingale on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:03:08 AM EST

This is slightly off topic, but I think the preference for coding at night has to do with stress. Personally, If I'm about to start a task which I know is going to be complicated and take long, I don't like to start it during the day. If I start it in the evening, I know that I won't be interrupted and can take as long as necessary to get the task right. No deadline either, ie so what if it takes up to 3am? The night is like a stretchable day. It's like being able to squeeze three more hours between 4pm and 5pm.

[ Parent ]
Just an aside (4.00 / 2) (#33)
by rodoke3 on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 05:10:36 AM EST

Why do most people buy soda and make coffee to help them stay awake?  Why don't they just buy caffeine tablets?  They're cheaper and are (at least for me) a lot more effective.

I take umbrage with such statments and am induced to pull out archaic and over pompous words to refute such insipid vitriol. -- kerinsky

[ Parent ]
...and wash them down with tea [nt] (5.00 / 4) (#45)
by nebbish on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 07:04:25 AM EST

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

I don't know about you (5.00 / 3) (#88)
by Pac on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 07:36:23 PM EST

But in most Brazilian homes coffee is made at least three times a day. In my home/office (two houses, same property), coffee is made at least four times a day, sometimes more (when we have visitors for work meetings, for instance). Besides, when my grandfather started giving me coffee I haven't yet learnt to walk. So, I think I am talking about tradition and flavour (hot coffee beats caffeine tablets hands down any day of the week).

I don't do many all-nighters anymore, just when it is really, really important and my planning was really, really screwed (like during the last beta for our present major project, where I had to let one of the two developers go - because his personal problems were preventing him from working -  two weeks before deadline and cover the gap myself). But for me nothing could substitute a good cup of very hot coffee.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners

[ Parent ]
are you addicted? (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by martingale on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 08:54:20 AM EST

I'm just wondering, do you find that if you go without coffee for a couple of days, you start getting a headache? I used to know this scandinavian girl who had exactly this problem, and she's not alone. Many northern Europeans drink *a lot* of coffee. In the South, it's less, but stronger. Doesn't seem to have the same effect, though.

Oops, just realized you mentioned Brazil. I guess this answered my question.

[ Parent ]

Caffeine addition (5.00 / 1) (#148)
by Karmakaze on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:30:36 AM EST

Yes, it is possible to become physically addicted to caffeine.  Not everyone who drinks coffee/caffeinated soda does become addicted, and different people have different thresholds.

I weaned myself off of caffeine when I realized I was going through withdrawal every Sunday.  I would have a mug of coffee a day at work during the week, none on Saturday, and by Sunday, I'd have a headache and some body ache and generally feel icky.

I took a week of cold turkey and stopped having the symptoms.  Now I keep an assortment of herbal teas at my desk (I have a ginger tea I just adore) for when I want a hot beverage (it's cold at work).

The other thing I notice is that now on the rare occasions when I drink coffee I become very wired very fast, whereas when I was addicted (and before I was addicted), there was no noticeable change in energy level.
[ Parent ]

Tradition/addiciton (5.00 / 1) (#167)
by Pac on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 12:04:37 PM EST

It is somewhat hard to tell then apart when you grow up in a country like this. We not only produce coffee, coffee is part of Brazilian national identity. They will offer you coffee everywhere, from the barber shop to the doctor's office. When you visit or receive someone, the barely minimum expected from the host is to serve a ready-made coffee (usually with biscuits, cookies or cake).

As far I as can tell I am not addicted in the strict sense of the word. I can go without coffee for long periods of time (weeks, months) without any withdraw symptoms.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners

[ Parent ]
Headaches (none / 0) (#223)
by Peach on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:07:31 PM EST

I'm just wondering, do you find that if you go without coffee for a couple of days, you start getting a headache?
Withdrawl from caffeine can cause headaches.
Some headache tablets contain caffeine - to cure headaches in avid coffee-drinkers who haven't had their fix!

[ Parent ]
Brazil (5.00 / 1) (#217)
by ksandstr on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 10:31:17 AM EST

A bit off topic for a reply, but anyway...

Has anyone here tried any of the Brazilian green teas? I seem to remember having read somewhere that there's a sizable nth generation ethnic Japanese immigrant population in the western side of Brazil whose nth generation grandparents brought the tea-drinking and growing thing from Japan with them.... Just interested, as I'd think a green tea harvested in Brazil would be quite different because of the climate difference (at the very least) from a native Japanese green.

[ Parent ]
Someone has... (5.00 / 2) (#222)
by Pac on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 01:43:17 AM EST

Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside Japan. We have great Japanese restaurants and I personally have many Japanese (first, second and third generations) friends.

As for the tea, I confess I never noticed much difference. I must have tasted both kinds (Brazilian and Japanese grown teas) in restaurants and at friends'. You must notice Brazil is very, very large (it is larger than US if you consider only the  continuous land) and North-South oriented. We have all kinds of weather, from snow mountains in the south to equatorial rain forests in the north, and everything in between. So the Japanese would probably manage to grow the same tea they have in Japan (besides, Japanese are agricultural magicians - they will manage to grow things under unbelievable conditions).

Evolution doesn't take prisoners

[ Parent ]
That's nice (none / 0) (#226)
by ksandstr on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 11:00:39 PM EST

Obviously, my view of what Brazil is like is a bit tinted by never having been there and only seeing on a map that it is, indeed, bloody huge. Frankly, while writing the above post, I thought of Brazil as mostly a rainforest-covered section of south america, dotted here and there by enormous (on my northern European scale, anyway) cities.

Maybe I should take some time to read up on these things at some point :-)

[ Parent ]

+1, de Quincey (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by Battle Troll on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 12:11:32 PM EST

For an encore, I encourage you to quote Sirs P. Sidney and R. Burton.
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Jasmine Tea (5.00 / 3) (#8)
by bugmaster on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 10:55:43 PM EST

I personally always liked jasmine tea -- basically, black or oolong tea with actual jasmine flowers mixed into it. The aroma of jasmine is a bit strong, but there's nothing quite like it out there in terms of pure pleasure. An online store called Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf currently sells this type of tea; I am sure others do too.
jasmine (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by sly on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 02:16:05 AM EST

Jasmine tea is actually very common, in China at least. I also think it is actually a green tea (not black or oolong) and the flowers are not always included - they are used for scenting the tea leaves but often aren't actually in the tea. Another place you can purchase jasmine, as well as a huge variety of other Asian teas, is Ten Ren Tea or at one of their stores or your local Asian market.
I've got some cereal in my pocket.
[ Parent ]
OMFG TenRen kicks ass (none / 0) (#191)
by siobibble on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:49:36 PM EST

I love their iced pearl tea drink. They only have stores in a few states, though. It's usually doubled the price of any other local store that sells it, but it makes all the other stores' taste like chlorine, seriously.

[ Parent ]
TenRen & Pearl tea (none / 0) (#193)
by sly on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:59:56 PM EST

I've only been to their store in Flushing, but they also have two other stores in Manhattan that I know of, and a bunch in California, I hear.

Their pearl tea is pretty good although, in case any New York K5ers are reading this, there are lots of good Chinese bakeries in Flushing that make even better and cheaper pearl tea. (And other delicious Taiwanese cold treats like bao bing!)

Of course, it's not that hard to make pearl tea yourself. My mom makes it for me when I'm home. You just basically make some iced tea of your choice, cook up tapioca, get a fat straw and enjoy! Those big fat tapioca pearls are really delicious in smoothies too.
I've got some cereal in my pocket.
[ Parent ]

"cook up tapioca" (none / 0) (#202)
by KnightStalker on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:19:46 PM EST

Yeah, you might be skipping a few steps involved in making those pearls. At the least, I think it involves a pressure cooker. ;-)

[ Parent ]
Other things that look like tea (5.00 / 2) (#11)
by Pac on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 11:32:59 PM EST

I liked the article and I was about to suggest a note on, for lack of better name, "things that look like tea".

Popular tradition in Africa and South America is full of infusions from a variety of plants. Some have proven pharmacological properties, some are traditionally associated with this or that condition (to calm down, to give energy, etc). Most are harmless but some are dangerous without proper guidance. Some may have wierd organic effects (lettuce tea, for instance, is traditionally used to calm down babies and young children - my mother once tried it with my son when he was 2: the boy spend the night awake, playing and laughing). And some are just social beverages like tea (but you can grow them in your backyard).

But then, while writing, I realised this would required another article...

Evolution doesn't take prisoners

Gunpowder green (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by KnightStalker on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 11:42:08 PM EST

What is the best way to make gunpowder green tea? I have tried this twice on high recommendations, and I have found it to be very bitter, no matter what temperature water I use or how long I steep it. Has anyone had better luck with it?

fresh mint (5.00 / 3) (#67)
by motty on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 10:58:21 AM EST

and a bunch of sugar or honey.

A kebab shop I used to know in Brussels served the most wonderful green gunpowder-mint tea made this way:

Put a quantity of green-gunpowder at the bottom of a glass. Fill three-quarters full with boiling water. Add the sugar or honey. Stir. Unfolding green gunpowder leaves are now swirling around in the glass. Insert four or five mint stalks with leaves on, pushing the gunpowder back down, stopping the swirling, and ensuring all the leaves are under the water. Top up the water if necessary. Leave to cool off a bit then drink.

It was something like that, I think. I've been trying to replicate it, and though I've never managed to make it quite as well as they did, it never seems to go too badly wrong either.
[ Parent ]

Thanks (3.50 / 2) (#72)
by KnightStalker on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 12:28:24 PM EST

I'll try that. I've tried it with dried mint, which was better than nothing but still wasn't great.

[ Parent ]
Be absolutely sure (5.00 / 3) (#75)
by i on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 12:58:51 PM EST

to use spearmint, NOT peppermint.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
wrigleys? (none / 0) (#135)
by martingale on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 08:03:24 AM EST

I know, I'm sorry. Please accept my most humble offering of apology. My feeble mind could not resist.

[ Parent ]
overdosing? (5.00 / 2) (#81)
by eightball on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 03:40:52 PM EST

It is very easy to put too much with gunpowder green.

For a '6 cup' pot, I put at most 4 teaspoons, and usually a little less than that.

[ Parent ]

Hey! (none / 0) (#119)
by KnightStalker on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 10:58:25 PM EST

That was it. I used half as much and it is a huge improvement. Time for more experimenting. This could come out as well as Jasmine or Genmai Cha, the only green teas I can currently stomach. :-)

[ Parent ]
Gunpower is a more sensitive green tea. (5.00 / 2) (#101)
by Haelo on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 08:11:31 PM EST

Compared to other teas, you only need what seems like a very tiny amount of tea. You'll look at in the bottom of the strainer and think there is no way it can serve all of the water you are about to put in. A good gunpower that I have on my shelf now only requires about half a teaspoon per 6oz of water. So two mugs would really only take about two teaspoons if that. The reason for this is the leaves are rolled up very tightly, so they look a lot smaller than they are. Once steeped, they look more "normal" in quantity.

Another thing is temperature and brew time. I've found gunpowders to be a bit more sensitive to these things than other green teas in general. Most gunpowders need only lightly steaming water, about 160 degrees. Brew times vary depending on the individual teas. Follow the directions to the second and you should be okay. You said you are already following the recommendations on the shipment, so it is probably just a matter of quantity. If the recommended amount is still bitter, try experimenting with quantity.

I'll back up those recommendations though. Good gunpowder, when you finally hit the right combination, is very distinctive and enjoyable -- and doesn't need any additives at all, in fact, it can be quite sweet on its own, for a green tea. Plus, due to how little you need, it is pretty economical too. I can plow through a half pound of Oolong in a month, but a 1/4 of gunpowder will last me a quarter of a year, usually. Proper storage becomes more important with it.
[ Parent ]

Another thing. (5.00 / 2) (#108)
by Haelo on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 08:34:22 PM EST

You might just have a bad batch of it. I noticed you are from Portland. I got a tin of gunpower from Peet's Tea and Coffee House, and was disappointed with the quality of it. It was very easy to get bitter, and tasted kind of flat when it wasn't. Their brew times seemed a little -- dubious -- too. I've never seen a gunpowder that is supposed to go for four minutes, but that is what they have it rated as.
[ Parent ]
Never bought anything from Peet's (5.00 / 2) (#110)
by KnightStalker on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 08:58:01 PM EST

This has come from Whole Foods and from the Royal Family Ginseng Plaza on 4th and Davis.

[ Parent ]
...and... (5.00 / 2) (#111)
by KnightStalker on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 09:01:10 PM EST

might as well plug the place I usually go, the Hawthorne Coffee & Tea Merchant (www.hawthornecoffee.com).

[ Parent ]
Neat. (none / 0) (#207)
by Haelo on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 12:56:45 AM EST

Thanks for the tip. I'll have go check them out.
[ Parent ]
Try their licorice & caramels [nt] (none / 0) (#209)
by KnightStalker on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 03:10:03 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Three variables (4.00 / 2) (#106)
by Rainy on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 08:32:29 PM EST

Temperature, amount of leaf and time. Get the water to boil and then wait it to cool down for 2-3 minutes. Start with 3 minutes infusion, decrease it if it's still bitter. Gunpowder is very tightly curled up so you have to use much less amount by volume compared to any other tea. By the way, I never liked Gunpowder, it's always too sharply vegetal for me.. I only tried two or three types of Gunpowder, though.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Preparing gunpowder tea (none / 0) (#174)
by Vbroca on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 01:11:07 PM EST

I thought it was funny an article about tea, and no mention to gunpowder tea. In my country (Southern Europe), due to the proximity with Northern Africa, is on of the most well known.
It's usually called Arabic tea or Moorish tea.

Once I was in Burkina Faso (in Bobo Diulasso) and some guys there showed me the full process. You must put the tea in boiling water (first time, half the amount you would use of another tea) and bring it to BOIL for about five minutes.

After it you put some brown sugar on it (inside the boiler), pour some tea on a glass (making some "escuma", I don't know the english word, the thing on top of the beer...). You pour it again into de boiler. And keep doing it several times, so you dissolve the sugar without movint too much the leaves, and also you cool the tea.

You serve it makin lots of "escuma" on the glasses (pouring it from high, and from glass to glass...).

If you have fresh mint, you can make it into a delicatessen. Before adding the sugar you can put a branch of fresh mint into the boiler.

On the other hand, if you will serve it on bigger glasses you can put the mint not in the boiler, but on the glass.

Usually you use the same leaves three times.

The first time the tea is supposed to be bitter, as life. The second time is sweet as love and the third one is soft as death.

[ Parent ]

Co-incidence (5.00 / 2) (#16)
by Tatarigami on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 12:18:22 AM EST

There is a funky way of preparing tea called Gong-Fu.

About three years ago I was studying Tai Chi Chuan during the evenings (actually, now I think about it, it was the assistant instructor who first turned me onto green tea).

The sifu (master) referred to martial arts as 'gong fu', and talked about his plans to get the students wearing t-shirts adorned with the logo 'Gong Fu inside', as a riff on the Intel adverts.

Now I find myself wondering how many layers there were to that joke...

Gong Fu (5.00 / 3) (#20)
by sly on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 02:04:17 AM EST

in Chinese refers to something of great skill, and is also the name for martial arts. In regards to tea I believe it simply means the special skill to prepare the tea in this way. And I don't really get the joke...
I've got some cereal in my pocket.
[ Parent ]
Tea (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by Tatarigami on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 02:26:02 AM EST

And I don't really get the joke...

We used to start the evening's session with a cup of Chinese tea the instructor brought back from Hong Kong with him.

It wasn't actually prepared in that style, but if you'll let me fudge the terms a little, I could legitimately claim to have had Gong Fu inside.

[ Parent ]

further reading (5.00 / 2) (#17)
by demi on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 01:27:40 AM EST

I think this article really needs at least one reference to The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura. Recommended for lay students of Teaism, Zen, and later Meiji period Japan. Timely quote from this book, which was first published in 1906 and now seems to be online in many places:
To the latter-day Chinese tea is a delicious beverage, but not an ideal. The long woes of his country have robbed him of the zest for the meaning of life. He has become modern, that is to say, old and disenchanted. He has lost that sublime faith in illusions which constitutes the eternal youth and vigour of the poets and ancients. He is an eclectic and politely accepts the traditions of the universe. He toys with Nature, but does not condescend to conquer or worship her. His Leaf-tea is often wonderful with its flower-like aroma, but the romance of the Tang and Sung ceremonials are not to be found in his cup.
...and now I hear reports of an exuberant and exclusive tea couture quietly making a comeback in booming Chinese cities, while Heisei Japan remains debt-ridden and mired in deep recession. Chinese tea ceremonies are all about the tea. Japanese chaji are all about the ceremony. In the post-Enron world economy, we should ponder this: which culture has its priorities straight?

mmm Tea! (none / 0) (#23)
by blisspix on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 02:21:02 AM EST

I gave up coffee a year ago and haven't looked back. I am a big fan of organic ceylon, very crisp as you say but still mild enough to enjoy a couple of cups a day. Plus since it's organic, there's no pesticides or chemicals.

Black teas with fruit flavours added are wonderful, I bought some rasberry black tea a few weeks ago at a specialty store. L'Epicier is actually a Japanese tea shop but sells about 60 different black flavoured teas - heaven. Tea Too in Australia is also quite nice, but their range isn't quite as big.

Good Place for Flavored Black Teas (none / 0) (#149)
by harryhoode on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:33:13 AM EST

I've purchased numerous flavored black teas from Adagio Teas - http://www.adagio.com/. The sampler sizes are nice... try as many as you want for cheap. A good thing too... they aren't all great. Some flavors just do not belong in tea.

[ Parent ]
HOW DARE YOU (5.00 / 8) (#30)
by Hide The Hamster on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 05:04:50 AM EST

insult the quality of my Twinnings Earl Grey! Bastard!

Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

Indeed (4.91 / 12) (#34)
by gazbo on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 05:30:10 AM EST

I dislike intensely this style of article that basically says that traditional, proper, awkward and expensive things are necessarily better than newer, cheaper, more convenient things.

For example, I prefer tea from bags to loose tea. Yeah, you heard me. And believe me, I've tried many types of loose tea, and even more types of bag-tea. But no, I must be mistaken; tea bags do not make good tea - it's a simple fact. Instead I should drink green tea warmed over a couple of hours in the sun. I should transcend the fact it tastes like shit, and instead bask in the glow of how authentic I'm being, then go round laughing derisively at the poor fools who drink tea made from Yorkshire Gold (in my opinion one of the finest cups of tea around).

I'm off to mock a friend for drinking non-organic wine.

Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

Tea bags can make very good tea. (5.00 / 4) (#37)
by i on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 05:46:09 AM EST

It largely depends on what's inside. What's inside yours?

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Yorkshire Gold (4.85 / 7) (#38)
by gazbo on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 06:10:06 AM EST

From Google. But there are other bag teas I like too, such as Twinings Earl Grey, Russian caravan and Yunnan. The point is that they taste undeniably different to loose teas of the same varieties, but not necessarily inferior.

I happen to find the taste from bags to be less harsh; smoother. Some people will prefer the loose varieties for the exact opposite reason. I just dislike the way that people feel the need to talk about how the traditional method (loose) is inherently superior.

Just an example from a different field: I was cooking a stir fry some time ago (but it stuck in my mind as it irritated me so) and I added some peppers quite early on. A flatmate commented that they would be quite soft by the time the rest was cooked.

"Yes, I know. I quite like peppers cooked a bit rather than being crisp."

"But that's not how you're supposed to cook them."

"Maybe not, but I prefer them cooked like that."

"But traditionally the Chinese..." <snip>

This chap was trying to tell me I shouldn't cook my food how I like it on the grounds that it's not the traditional way. This is exactly the feeling I get from this article and many others of it ilk.

Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

So right... (5.00 / 6) (#42)
by nebbish on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 06:55:14 AM EST

I like my Earl Grey with milk, which I have been told many a time is incorrect. Tough. Its my tea, and I'll drink it how I like.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Really (5.00 / 3) (#84)
by sien on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 06:12:13 PM EST

I saw an interview with the current Earl Grey where he said that milk was acceptable, but sugar wasn't.

I have a half a spoonful of sugar in my tea, so I was a wee bit peeved.

[ Parent ]

is there really an Earl Grey? =nt= (5.00 / 1) (#114)
by Suppafly on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 09:16:30 PM EST

Playstation Sucks.
[ Parent ]
Twinings sure think so... (5.00 / 2) (#159)
by Xenex on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:16:41 AM EST

Twinings' web site talks of the history of tea and tea drinkers. This it taken from the bottom of the linked page:
Charles, 2nd Earl Grey was Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834. He was a great reformer, but best-known for the blend of tea that still bears his name.

According to popular legend, the blend was a gift from a grateful Chinese mandarin. It seems that an envoy sent to China by Earl Grey did the mandarin a good turn (he may have saved the mandarin's life, the details are unknown).

When the mandarin's tasty gift began to run out, Earl Grey asked his tea merchants, Twinings, to match it for him. Twinings unique blend was the Grey family's long-standing favourite. When guests inquired about it, they were directed to Twinings on the Strand, where they would ask for Earl Grey's tea by name.

Of course, you can be the judge of where the history ends and the advertising begins...

It's what's not there that makes what's there what it is.
[ Parent ]
I have a stick to beat the pseudo snobs with! (none / 0) (#130)
by nebbish on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:32:45 AM EST

Im going to dig that out and brandish it at the next tea snob who says I shouldn't have milk in my Earl Grey, and show them up for the pretenders they are.

Im surprised to hear there's an actual Earl Grey as well.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

One reason why loose tea is inherently superior. (5.00 / 3) (#43)
by i on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 06:55:46 AM EST

You don't get to pay for bags, which can be more expensive than the tea they contain.

The other difference between bags and loose leaves is that bags go stale much quicker, because the smaller leaf particles in bags have much larger surface area.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]

Yeh (3.66 / 3) (#51)
by Urpo on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 08:38:06 AM EST

I bet you add brown sauce on your Foie gras et confits, too, philistine.

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
[ Parent ]

Lots of stuff goes with Foie gras! (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by DrH0ffm4n on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:55:09 AM EST

It is enormously versatile, and complements many other flavours.
Apple, chorizo, black pudding, orange, fries, brown sauce, ketchup...


The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.

[ Parent ]

I didn't mean it a quite like that (4.50 / 4) (#105)
by Rainy on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 08:21:00 PM EST

I meant that if you go and buy bags of tetley in the store, and then go buy Yunnan from IPOT, the latter will taste much better. Of course, you could put yunnan in a teabag, and take lipton out, and then "tea in teabag" would taste better, but the idea of my story was to give a succinct practical intro to tea without making a three-tome doorstop out of it.

And when you write a compressed story about a huge 5 thousand year old 2 billion (or how much?) consumers drink, you're bound to cut some corners. Sorry if I sounded like your roommate. Perhaps he didn't mean you *have* to, but rather that you may like to try it the other way, too. I don't know, I wasn't there.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

Agreed. (5.00 / 3) (#61)
by ghjm on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 10:33:06 AM EST

In fact, I've seen kits that allow you to make your own teabags, putting whatever you want inside them. Very convenient when traveling.

I've heard claims to the effect that teabags don't allow the tea leaves room for proper exapnsiveness - which is just plain wrong, they have plenty of room to get bigger. I've also heard claims that the teabag itself adds undesirable flavor because of the paper - which is about as silly as saying that a tea ball or filter basket adds undesirable flavor because of the metal.

It's true that teabags are the preferred format in which to sell genuinely awful tea. But it's the tea that's the problem, not the bags.


[ Parent ]

Teabags (5.00 / 2) (#66)
by i on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 10:56:56 AM EST

are sometimes made of bleached paper to make them white.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
It would also mean infusers are wrong (none / 0) (#132)
by nebbish on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:47:59 AM EST

I've heard claims to the effect that teabags don't allow the tea leaves room for proper exapnsiveness - which is just plain wrong, they have plenty of room to get bigger.

I can see how it could effect the infusion though. There is a restricted area around the leaves - loose tea in the pot would circulate in the water more, if you see what I mean. Sort of scuppers the case for infusers though.

But christ, we're not hyper-sensitive tea-testing spectrometers - who's going to notice the difference?

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

teaballs also (none / 0) (#183)
by ghjm on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 03:58:46 PM EST

I think the idea is that if the leaf is not able to become saturated with water, then it doesn't release its full flavor. It's certainly true that if you packed all your tea leaves into a tiny little teaball, they wouldn't infuse very well. However, if they aren't packed in wall-to-wall when you remove the device (teaball, infuser, whatever), then they must have been saturated, hence no problem. In the case of teabags, the teabag itself can expand by changing its shape, to whatever extent is necessary - and in fact, if the tea leaves were packed in too tightly, they would probably tear the teabag and you'd have (unplanned) loose tea anyway. :-)


[ Parent ]

depends on the bag (none / 0) (#138)
by martingale on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 08:27:17 AM EST

I've found that the type of tea bags make a very noticeable difference. Earl Grey is my favourite tea, but I never buy the tea bags with strings attached. Instead, I think the pourous paper squares produce a much better tasting result. I don't know if the paper itself is at fault, or if the tea bags with strings have a longer shelf life and/or bad packaging.

Another advantage of tea bags, while I'm on the subject, is repeatability. When I pour boiling water in a cup with the tea bag, I know exactly what shade of colour I like. When it's done, I remove the tea bag and have a perfectly static cooling tea.

Loose leaf tea is great, but later cups are stronger than earlier cups, and have a different temperature. It's allright, but not as precisely repeatable.

[ Parent ]

I agree (none / 0) (#182)
by ghjm on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 03:55:23 PM EST

I've noticed that there is a style of teabag where the string is attached to a piece of paper that is attached to the bag itself. You sort of peel it off and then immerse the teabag. Whatever agent (dare I say glue?) is used to stick the label to the bag probably has a taste of some sort.


[ Parent ]

Not necessarily (4.50 / 2) (#103)
by Rainy on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 08:14:47 PM EST

I am using a laptop to post this instead of an abacus. Or a 386. And I use Opera instead of Lynx. With teas, I found that loose leaf tastes better. Sun tea sometimes tastes bad, but only when it's green tea. Black sun tea always tastes good (in my experience).
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Twinings Earl Grey is the nectar of the gods [nt] (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by nebbish on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 06:53:33 AM EST

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

What? (1.80 / 5) (#40)
by tkatchev on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 06:30:09 AM EST

Good tea is sweet?

Are you mad?

Also, there are only two types of tea -- black and green. (Green tea is tea leaves when dry, and black tea is green tea when it has been fermented.)

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.

Wrong. (5.00 / 5) (#46)
by i on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 07:11:11 AM EST

There are only two types of tea: good and bad.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Also wrong. (5.00 / 2) (#56)
by komet on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 09:50:33 AM EST

There are only two types of tea: those drunk by people who separate tea into two types, and those drunk by those who don't.
Any technology which is distinguishable from magic is not sufficiently advanced.
[ Parent ]
wrong again. (4.00 / 1) (#151)
by kpaul on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:35:19 AM EST

There are two types of 'Tea' - one you drink and one you smoke. Just ask Kerouac... ;)

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]
Baah. (4.75 / 4) (#48)
by Akshay on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 07:57:58 AM EST

Everyone knows that the only true tea in the world is Irani chai, and that too the one you get at Zam Zam Cafe, 6-3-903/A/4, Pattergatti, Hyderabad

(Non-Hyderabadis will note that the receipe of this heady brew is, sadly, a closely guarded intellectual property, so I really can't say anything else.)

Nice article, I think it rates at least +SP (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by nadreck on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 09:49:25 AM EST

I drink mainly coffee but have a variety of teas in the cupboard as well and appreciate many things from slightly woody Russian tea to the spiced up chai.

Big secret: if you have a coffee grinder that you use for coffee get a second one to use with your cardomen seeds etc for making chai.

Nadreck of Palain VII (ok, ok, really Jim Grant of Yellowknife)

Some problems (5.00 / 3) (#68)
by pHatidic on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 11:20:39 AM EST

First you should definitely include a link to tea talk which is a FAQ that has all sorts of info about tea.

Also, might want to have some info about the different brewing temperature of each tea, which is extremely important.
<RB> Anyway, I was working on writing the exact same article. Oh well. Good tips about Keemuns though.

It's there! (4.00 / 2) (#96)
by Rainy on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 07:57:54 PM EST

See tip #7 for water temp info. Never read tea talk, will check out.. I read the tea newsgroup regularly, though.. Thanks for feedback.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
+1 FP This is a good follow up to rusty's article (3.00 / 6) (#76)
by Tex Bigballs on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 01:48:18 PM EST

on teabagging.

Another source for good quality tea (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by ghjm on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 07:38:23 PM EST

Upton Tea (http://www.uptontea.com). Better than either of the alternatives in the article, IMHO.


Upton is good, but.. (none / 0) (#91)
by Rainy on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 07:45:11 PM EST

They have too much stuff. I've ordered from them a number of times, and IMHO, for newbies, those two are better because they have small inventory and most of it is good. With upton you may have unlucky run the first time or two..
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
gay (1.07 / 28) (#112)
by DJ Glock on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 09:08:33 PM EST

the only thing that could be gayer than tea would be a shitty story about tea getting voted onto the front page.



-1 (1.00 / 33) (#115)
by DJ Glock on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 09:25:32 PM EST

it doesn't take a genius to realize that this is an attempt by a mob of unruly tea drinking queer types to make this website into some sort of cyber-hippie community for faggot homo sexuals.

i pray that anybody who reads this will do the right things and vote -1 to keep kuro5hin a safe place for hetero sexuals like myself.


Perhaps you should be thankful that (none / 0) (#219)
by kuro5hinatportkardotnet on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 06:53:18 PM EST

it wasn't an article about teabagging instead.


Libertarian is the label used by embarrassed Republicans that long to be open about their greed, drug use and porn collections.
[ Parent ]
Coffee is better than tea. (2.25 / 4) (#117)
by Blase Deviant on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 09:59:51 PM EST

Face it.

coffe is less healthy than tea, face it (nt) (3.00 / 2) (#122)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 01:17:29 AM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
I'd bet (none / 0) (#220)
by kuro5hinatportkardotnet on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 06:56:21 PM EST

that the colonics crowd would disagree with you.


Libertarian is the label used by embarrassed Republicans that long to be open about their greed, drug use and porn collections.
[ Parent ]
When you drink coffee... (5.00 / 3) (#123)
by Zerotime on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 03:11:09 AM EST

...you're exploiting a tiny, poor little third world nation that most likely has a workforce consisting entirely of child slave labour and is probably ruled by a fascist dictator who squishes cute kittens just for fun! Do you really want to make a hobby of kicking the downtrodden masses? Drink tea instead!

[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#145)
by ChiefHoser on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:08:24 AM EST

Tea production has absolutely none of the above problems? I think that tea drinking to some degree also feeds into that.

Now there are solutions, free trade coffee for one does not exploit 3rd world workers and tastes much better and often has no added chemicals in it. Likely there is a tea equivalent.

With that said, coffee for the masses.

Chief of the Hosers
[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#158)
by Zerotime on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:15:32 AM EST

Not that I drink coffee any more, but I've had some nice organic stuff grown in Queensland that gets around those nasty moral things, and the minute there's an Australian-grown tea the equal of Twinings, I'll give up drinking the foreign stuff as well.

[ Parent ]
The resoning (none / 0) (#215)
by davidmb on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 06:22:48 AM EST

Coffee is picked by hand, whereas tea is harvested by machine. Thus the coffee trade relies on exploiting cheap labour to keep the prices down. That's not to say that there's no exploitation in the tea industry, just less need for it.
[ Parent ]
Yeah, there's fair trade tea alright (none / 0) (#218)
by ksandstr on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 11:11:37 AM EST

In Finland anyway you can get loose leaf green tea that has the local fair trade association branch approval as a fair trade import. (whatever that means. I don't think the organization itself is in any particular way immune to corruption and shit like that.)

The bags I've seen are typically imported from India by a company called Simon Levelt and have about 75 grams of pretty good-looking and smelling leaf inside.  The liquor itself is pretty good if a bit on the mellow side, assuming you like Indian green teas, though I haven't had much opportunity to experiment with temperatures etc.

It was a bit of a surprise that it was actually an Indian green tea; I'd have thought of India as more of a black tea kind of country.  Myself, I'm getting a second bag as soon as my first runs out :-)

[ Parent ]

Tell that the to the English. (4.00 / 1) (#127)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 04:37:17 AM EST

And the Chinese. And the Japanese.

And the Australians.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

And. . . (none / 0) (#155)
by Fantastic Lad on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:57:08 AM EST

Bananas are better than coffee.

Apples and Oranges, my friend.

They each have their place, and when done right, I love 'em both.


[ Parent ]

Coffee doesn't make you sick (none / 0) (#163)
by A55M0NKEY on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:32:38 AM EST

I can drink cup after cup of coffee, and keep it down, but if I drink more than say one cup of Lipton, I get nausious.

I can drink other teas though without that queasy feeling. One of my favorite is to just go into the woods and pick a handful of wintergreen ( teaberry ) leaves and brew tea with those. Yummy.

[ Parent ]

by Canthros on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:51:21 AM EST

It's called, "better tea". HTH.

It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
[ Parent ]
Tea. (3.57 / 7) (#120)
by UltraNurd on Mon Aug 04, 2003 at 11:36:42 PM EST

Earl Grey. Hot.

"Your Mint Mountain Dew idea is hideous and wrong."
-Hide The Hamster

make it so, number one. warp nine, engage, etc(nt) (3.66 / 3) (#121)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 01:16:52 AM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
wonderful (5.00 / 3) (#124)
by jjayson on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 03:48:16 AM EST

We get to look forward to everybody posting their favorite tea in three words.
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
it's not his, it's captain jean luc picard (nt) (3.33 / 3) (#129)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:06:55 AM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Oh now I get it! (4.60 / 5) (#139)
by President Saddam on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 08:46:18 AM EST

I wish I could come up with witty, erudite references to Star Trek like that...man have I wasted my life.

Allah Akbar
[ Parent ]

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA eh (nt) (2.50 / 4) (#141)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 08:57:00 AM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Nah. All that gives... (none / 0) (#196)
by enderwiggin99 on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 07:41:31 PM EST

...is a liquid almost, but not entirely, quite unlike tea. Something you don't want to share with your friends, unless you don't want to keep them.

Reverse-engineering the Universe from life until Zen.
[ Parent ]
Huh? (5.00 / 3) (#126)
by scheme on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 03:57:04 AM EST

If you filter water, use it right away or it may yield a flat-tasting cup due to de-oxygenizing- this is important!

I have a hard time believing this is actually the case and not a placebo effect. I worked with 18 Megaohm water (basically pure water without any impurities, it was distilled twice and sent through a bunch of filters with pore sizes in the low hundred micron range) and even that stuff that a bunch of dissolved gasses in it. I know this because we took the water and put it under a vacuum to remove the dissolved gasses.

Given that double distilled water has a decent quantity of dissolved gasses, I don't think that water put through a filter will be deoxygenated. Never mind the fact that exposing water to the atmosphere will lead to oxygen (and other gasses) dissolving into the water over time.

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein

De-Oxygenated water (4.50 / 2) (#147)
by RainyRat on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:24:03 AM EST

Wouldn't that be hydrogen..?

Eagles may soar, but rats seldom get sucked into jet engines.
[ Parent ]
...Steam? (none / 0) (#156)
by gidds on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:00:53 AM EST

even that stuff that a bunch of dissolved gasses in it. I know this because we took the water and put it under a vacuum to remove the dissolved gasses.

Never done it myself, but if you put your double-distilled water in a vacuum, won't some (or all) of the bubbles you see be water vapour rather than other gases?

[ Parent ]

Wouldn't worry about oxygen (none / 0) (#162)
by A55M0NKEY on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:29:05 AM EST

Just heating the water for tea takes out the oxygen in the water. Tea therefore isn't supposed to have oxygen in it. The only way you'd get oxygen in tea would be to brew it cold and drink it that way, or to brew it hot, wait for it to get cold and then bubble air up through it. Oxygen makes plain water taste good, but it's the tea leaves that make tea taste good.

[ Parent ]
I'll have to level with you.. (none / 0) (#201)
by Rainy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:18:49 PM EST

All I know is that if I keep filtered water in brita jug for too long, green tea will taste bad. I've seen this given as an explanation, I think it's even in the tea FAQ I linked, but I have no idea if that's the right explanation of what happens. Practically, though, I'm certain that you should not keep the filtered water for long before using it.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Russian Tea Howto (5.00 / 4) (#131)
by 5pectre on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:38:16 AM EST

check it out.

"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

loved (5.00 / 1) (#146)
by jettero on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:10:27 AM EST

I love this howto... I've read it 3 times. I've never really had tea, besides the stuff from the supermarket, but I love the howto. :) It's witty, and someday I'm sure I'll try it the russian way.

[ Parent ]
Yeah (none / 0) (#150)
by 5pectre on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:33:22 AM EST

I met the guy at the linux bier wanderung 2001 in bouillon in belgium. I really like the style aswell :)

"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

[ Parent ]
Brilliant (5.00 / 1) (#154)
by bugmaster on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 10:41:49 AM EST

If only the actual Linux HOWTOs were written in this manner, Linux would have achieved worldwide dominance by now :-)
[ Parent ]
Yes but... (5.00 / 1) (#188)
by splitpeasoup on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:33:29 PM EST

...I have a hard time believing this:

"Never drink the zavarka [concentrated tea] undiluted. It has a strong narcotic effect, causing intense heartbeat, hallucinations and restlessness.... If you introduce Russian tea-drinking into some non-Russian company, don't forget to label the zavarka pot! Otherwise, ignorant people might drink its content, and die of a heart attack as a consequence."


"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi
[ Parent ]

Ditto (5.00 / 1) (#194)
by bugmaster on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 06:39:52 PM EST

Yeah, I think the author is being a bit over-enthusiastic about the hallucinogenic effects of tea. Although, I suppose that you can get high from drinking anything, depending on how much of it you drink, so who knows.

I should also mention that pure zavarka is essentially undrinkable -- it's too bitter. No one in their right mind would drink it straight.
[ Parent ]

Dunno (none / 0) (#212)
by 5pectre on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 04:29:44 AM EST

try it is all i can suggest ;)

This was the only other reference i could find for "zavarka narcotic":


"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

[ Parent ]

You're right (none / 0) (#216)
by ledestin on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 08:50:44 AM EST

The guy has no clue about chifir. I may not have clue either but I can at least use google. http://pleasures.hut.ru/culture/chifir.shtml (in Russian)

I remembered that chifir isn't that simple to cook. It's boiled several times and whatnot. I think somebody really interested and therefore clueful about tea would know of it.

As for the "Russian method", my impression is that the tea people drink in "zavarka way" has very low tea:water ratio.

I am Russian.
slashdot reader #624309
[ Parent ]

Try Again (4.00 / 1) (#144)
by LittleStar on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:46:06 AM EST

It sounds like you have actually tried some different teas out, and it would be interesting to hear more about that. I think that you do need to do a little more research though, and try organizing the essay into sections. Perhaps, as you sort of did, do the division by region. Then you could talk about each region's tea (from research) and add your comments from personal experience.

I must also agree with a few of the other comments in that getting good tea isn't nearly as hard as you make it seem. At both the Dominion and Loblaws (our closest supermarkets) there is a section of tea which included regular stuff and really nice loose leaf imports.

Glad to know there are other tea lovers out there.

Twinkle. Twinkle. Twinkle.
Not sure how well that works in the U. S. (none / 0) (#157)
by Canthros on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:09:51 AM EST

What the stores stock will probably depend on the type of folks who shop there. There are four grocery stores within a convenient distance of my place, none stocks anything nicer than Twining's (which I can't say I've tried, but will probably look into) or Tazo (and only one place carries that). I'm pretty sure that none of them carry anything in the way of loose-leaf tea, but I'd have to double-check. The price on Tazo's a bit steep, though (it runs roughly twice as high as anything else on the shelf).

I do know that there's a Liquor Barn in a nicer part of town that carries 'gourmet' tea, but I can't speak for the quality or price there (though I suspect that it's good, and borderline highway robbery, respectively). Past that, I think you're limited to places like Starbuck's (which sells Tazo loose, sometimes) or Barnes and Nobles (which sells brands I don't recognize for prices I'm not willing to pay).

At least for me, mail-order seems to be a better deal until I find someplace in town that specialises, and it may still be, then.

It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
[ Parent ]

Cultural differences? (5.00 / 1) (#160)
by gidds on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:18:45 AM EST

It would be interesting to see how tea is drunk in different cultures. Here in the UK, tea seems to be our national drink; the vast majority is low-end Tetley/PG Tips/Typhoo stuff in bags, but more adventurous types are readily available. I drink a lot, though these days I tend to go for Twinings tea bags: I love Ceylon and Earl Grey, like Lady Grey (similar to Earl Grey but with orange instead of bergamot), jasmine tea (which AFAICT is what you get in Chinese restaurants when you ask for 'Chinese tea') and green tea, and hated Lapsang Souchong (which seemed to be smoke with a hint of tea rather than vice versa...)

I also rather like Lipton's Tchaé Oriental Spice Flavour Green Tea bags, though they're still only a pale imitation of the Chai I remember from a sandwich shop. I even tolerate instant tea granules, which taste far from the Real Thing(tm) but have the advantage that they can be made tepid or even cold. (I can't drink liquid that's too hot, and usually end up leaving tea for 10-20 minutes to cool. I also like it when it's got cold, which surprises many: it's a different taste, but enjoy it.)

One thing I've noticed is that in some other European countries, and especially in the US, tea seems to be made directly from colder water. Here we always use boiling water, to get all the flavour out; elsewhere, when I've asked for tea in cafés and restaurants, I've been given a cup of hottish water and a tea bag; the water is never hot enough to infuse properly. And in the US, if you don't specify a temperature, you get it iced! (With lemon, and ten spoonfuls of sugar...)

So, folks: how often do people drink tea where you are? Is it taken for granted, or a rare treat? How do people tend to make it? (Or is Kuro5hin populated largely from Brits like me?)


Asian tea-drinking (none / 0) (#192)
by sly on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:55:04 PM EST

As a Chinese-American, I grew up drinking tea all the time, but it was always Chinese teas, mostly greens. For single servings, folks in my family usually just put the leaves (/flowers/whatever) in the bottom of the cup or mug and pour hot water in it. We link the water quite hot as well.

Does anyone know about Korean tea? I used to eat at a couple Korean restaurants regularly when I was living in Beijing and I loved the tea. It tasted almost like coffee and the water was lukewarm. Anyone know what this is called?

Another excellent type of tea is Thai tea, or especially Thai iced tea. It's startling orange!

I remember being pretty baffled by the concept of teabags when first I encountered them. I concluded that people were just too wussy to allow loose tea leaves floating in their drink. In general I still I get really confused by what I call "white people tea", that is Earl Grey or whatnot; stuff you put milk and honey into. Sounds like a bad idea to me. I actually have yet to try any though.
I've got some cereal in my pocket.
[ Parent ]

'White people tea' (none / 0) (#195)
by gidds on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 07:19:07 PM EST

...I might borrow that phrase :)

The 'standard' tea here in the UK (i.e. what you get in your Tetley/Typhoo/Brooke Bond/PG Tips teabags) is a blend of Ceylon, Assam and Kenyan teas. At least, so the web sites say; I don't know the other two, but I certainly recognised the brisk Ceylon taste in there. It's quite strong, with a rich flavour, which is why we usually add a little milk to smooth the taste a bit. Some people here have it with sugar, some without. Lemon, honey, or other additives are very rare, though.

(Personally, I never have it with sugar, and haven't since I had my tonsils out - during the week or two it took to heal up, anything remotely sweet tasted very strange and unpleasant, so that 'cured' me of sugar in drinks!)

Earl Grey is a milder, more subtle blend; even without the risk of the bergamot oil causing it to curdle, milk would risk overpowering it, which is why it's usually taken without.

[ Parent ]

colder tea (none / 0) (#199)
by Rainy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:14:36 PM EST

Higher quality green and white teas are made with only slightly warm water. You put water on gas stove for 20 seconds, steep the tea for ~2 minutes, and you got your green or white tea, barely warm, fragrant, in 2:20 flat. :P Yinzhen silver needles == heaven.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
You have: no tea. [nt] (5.00 / 4) (#164)
by pb on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:41:09 AM EST

"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
Good tea (none / 0) (#165)
by John Thompson on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 11:46:53 AM EST

...is virtually impossible to get in the USA outside of large urban areas. Restaurant tea is hopeless in this country; don't even bother -- all you'll get is a cup of tepid water and a teabag of some generic floor sweepings. I grew up with Red Rose orange pekoe tea and it is still one of my favorites for everyday use. But I have to go to Canada to get it! Tetley's is a reasonable fallback and more available at least where I live.

One of the very best teas I've enjoyed is Georgian (think Tblisi, not Atlanta) "Extra" brewed in a samovar. The Russians have long been avid tea drinkers and a samovar does a wonderful job with good tea. I just wish I had been able to bring one home with me...

Indeed,,, (none / 0) (#224)
by Belgand on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:06:08 PM EST

Ach... tell me about it. A local coffeehouse is absolutely terrible. The last (and only) time I ordered a cup there I was given a limp bag of Republic of Tea tossed in a cup of barely tepid water. Republic of Tea is pretty good usually, but hell... at least use loose leaves.

[ Parent ]
Well I drink tea from supermarkets (3.50 / 4) (#168)
by d s oliver h on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 12:05:26 PM EST

And I like it. Tea is tea for christ's sake.

Caffeine? (none / 0) (#169)
by matjaz on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 12:17:28 PM EST

I havent read all the comments (litle time) so forgive me if this was said before. There is tein (that's how it is spelled in Slovene and German language but i predict it sound very much the same in Engish) in tee. Not caffeine. And this substance - tein - is stronger than caffein. That is all.

Theophylline (5.00 / 1) (#172)
by DodgyGeezer on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 12:36:19 PM EST

Perhaps you're thinking of "theophylline".  Lots of information on Google, such as this.  From what I've read, caffeine is stronger, although theophylline affects the cardiovascular system much more.  Explains why tea helps me breathe when my allergies are playing up.

[ Parent ]
Sheesh, (none / 0) (#170)
by terpy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 12:17:30 PM EST

I'm drinking Lipton right now. But that's just primarily because I keep forgetting to buy more good tea.

Sorry though, I am restricted to purchasing bagged tea for daily use at work. I haven't got the time to deal with anything else. At home, I've got a few loose teas - but rare is the time I feel the need to expend the little extra effort to use them over the bagged variety.

"By siamese kittens, you mean Asian hookers, right?" --Skwirl

Bagging loose tea (none / 0) (#187)
by RadiantMatrix on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:30:56 PM EST

I am restricted to purchasing bagged tea for daily use at work. I haven't got the time to deal with anything else.
My local food co-op sells empty tea-bags that can be filled with loose tea. The opening in the bag can be sealed shut with a clothes iron. This has been invaluable in my transport of good tea to work! A few minutes at the beginning of each week, and I have tea bags that are easily transportable, not messy, and simple to use.

I don't like spam - Parent ]

Sounds like it may (none / 0) (#189)
by terpy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:41:25 PM EST

be worth a try... Thanks!

"By siamese kittens, you mean Asian hookers, right?" --Skwirl
[ Parent ]

How do you brew it? (none / 0) (#198)
by Rainy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 08:59:38 PM EST

I usually use a gaiwan and it takes no more than 5 seconds to grab a bit of loose leaves, put them inside and to take the spent leaves out when done. I don't see how this would take longer than that.. When I had no gaiwan and used jenaer pot, then yeah, it was a bit tricky to get all the leaves outta basket. And then clean the pot.. That would be 3 minutes, or so..
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
I brew it in a plastic camping mug (none / 0) (#200)
by terpy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:15:02 PM EST

from Denali State Park. This is how it happens:
  • Get to work. Buy a banana or orange downstairs from the coffee/bagel girl.
  • Think lewd thoughts about coffee girl while riding the elevator up.
  • Walk to desk and login to computer.
  • Grab plastic mug and a tea bag and walk to the hot water tap.
  • Toss bag in cup, add hot water.
  • Check mail slot on the way back to desk.
  • Check voicemails.
  • After voicemails, toss tea bag into the trash and begin to sip while returning calls.

"By siamese kittens, you mean Asian hookers, right?" --Skwirl
[ Parent ]

I mean, loose leaf (none / 0) (#203)
by Rainy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:24:56 PM EST

How did you drink it that it'd take too long to prepare / clean up?
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Well, I typically warm some water (none / 0) (#204)
by terpy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:27:14 PM EST

in a pot on the stove, toss in a bit of loose leaf - and then let it simmer for a few minutes. Then I strain it into a carafe and pour little bits into a cup until I finish it.

"By siamese kittens, you mean Asian hookers, right?" --Skwirl
[ Parent ]

What a load of poncy shit! (5.00 / 1) (#171)
by DodgyGeezer on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 12:19:05 PM EST

Whenever I'm in the UK I get as many of the biggest boxes of PG Tips I can carry back on the plane to Canada.  Pyramid bags too as I like gimmicks.  I don't ponce around with half the shit described - bung a bag in a mug and add boiling water.  I like to let it steep for 5-20 minutes - yes, I often have to reheat in the microwave to make it hot enough to drink.  All my white mugs are brown and I can't get them clean anymore.

I will give it to you that N. Americans (especially USians) don't know how to make tea.  The choices are poor, although considerably better in Canada.  Everywhere in the US seems to have that disgusting Lipton crap... made worse by making with hot and not boiling water.  Clueless, and then to be offered cream and not milk is to put salt on the wound.  The best major brand in the US is Celestial Seasons "Engligh Breakfast"... at least it has some flavour and strength.

PG Tips? (none / 0) (#177)
by MKalus on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 02:31:51 PM EST


maybe it's a different one here in Canada but I saw it not only in indian stores but also in supermarkets (Dominion), so why do you drag it back from the UK?
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

re: PG Tips (none / 0) (#233)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Aug 13, 2003 at 07:32:38 PM EST

I hadn't actually seen PG Tips in the supermarket.  I generally go to the Loblaws, not Dominion though.  I did find the Tetley much much weaker here than in the UK.  It tastes like the bag's already been used for another cup first.

[ Parent ]
Dirty mugs... (none / 0) (#229)
by icebattle on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 03:41:00 AM EST

You can clean your mugs with Ajax, Vim, toothpaste or bicarb. Bicarb is probably most politically correct. cheers

[ Parent ]
I will never be a tea/wine snob (none / 0) (#173)
by RyoCokey on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 12:37:32 PM EST

Sadly, I am cursed with a rather poor sense of smell, due to cauterization in my nose, as well as severe allergies. Thus, I will never be able to spend hundreds of dollars on a wine glass, or remark how it tastes of chocolate, elderberries, or wombat.

The same holds for tea. Twinning's Earl Grey, the kind you buy at the supermarket, tastes quite nice to me.

If anything, it seems water quality affects it the most. The water here is hard and makes terrible tasting coffee or tea.

farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
Hard water doesn't affect tea flavour, IMHO (none / 0) (#175)
by DodgyGeezer on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 01:30:54 PM EST

Well, I grew up in a hard water area (water running off chalk hills in to chalk aquifers) and my parents from a soft water area (water running off granite).  Waterwise, I'm currently living somewhere in between.  I don't notice any issues with tea flavour and water hardness.  In fact, I think I prefer hard water (except when I'm showering ;)).  I could see how funny or foul tasting water might have unpleasant side effects though.  What seems most important is getting the water boiling vigourously.

As for allergies, I find tea often helps stop my nosing running so badly, and it eases any wheezing (mild asthma).

[ Parent ]

"Hard" was too vague (none / 0) (#176)
by RyoCokey on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 02:22:06 PM EST

Personally, I definitely prefer hard water to soft. However, I found the water from the aquifers out in East Texas made delicious tea, while the waters from Alabama (Which leave a brown scale, as well) make very bland tea, even using the exact same brands and method.

Of course, it may not involve the ions, but rather the dissolved solids that give water its taste.

farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
Parent ]
No sense of smell - exactly. (5.00 / 1) (#181)
by robson on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 03:51:22 PM EST

I have no sense of smell, and I've always been that way.  Thus, like you, tea and wine are bland-to-gross experiences because there's nothing but the taste.  It's taken me a long time to understand that it wasn't just that I didn't *like* tea or wine -- it's that I was missing some critical part of the experience.  Strange stuff.
It seemed real but wasn't.
[ Parent ]
hard water (none / 0) (#197)
by Rainy on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 08:55:26 PM EST

Try a brita filter. Use freshly filtered water (don't let it sit in the jug for hours).

Your sense of smell and taste may improve if you try fasting for a day or two. At least you'll have a better idea of what's out there (it's also healthy for ya!).

Also, if you avoid spices, salt and sugar, your taste and smell also improves. If you clobber your senses with a baseball bat, they won't know a gentle caress if it shits on their head :P
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

Sunlight and Bacteria (none / 0) (#178)
by frankwork on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 02:34:02 PM EST

Actually putting water out into intense sunlight is a pretty decent way to purify it. See this link for info. So I don't think sun tea is likely to cause problems with bacteria multiplying.

Tea (5.00 / 2) (#179)
by Dean Madden on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 02:59:33 PM EST

The Royal Society of Chemistry recently published the results of some research which explained how to make the perfect cup of tea. The information can be found at: http://www.rsc.org/pdf/pressoffice/2003/tea.pdf

The Ignobel Prize in Literature (1999) was awarded to the British Standards Istitution for their specification for tea making (BS-6008 - which is a sort of British government-certified method). Details at: http://www.bsi-global.com/index.xalter

Douglas Adams of H2G2 fame wrote about tea-making too; his account was recently published in 'The Salmon of Doubt' -- material that was salvaged from his Mac after his death.

I also note that the veteran Labour politician (and inveterate tea-drinker) Tony Benn commented that "If God had intended us to use leaf tea, he would not have invented tea bags".

Tea, of course, can be harvested by machine, while coffee has to be picked by hand and its production is therefore limited to those countries which pay workers very little.

I rest my case.

What is with all the "American (5.00 / 5) (#180)
by panZ on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 03:13:19 PM EST

philistine" comments I've been reading lately. e.g. American Tea/Cheese/Wine sux0rs. Yes, the US is full of ethnocentric people but not many of them read postings on K5. In fact, I'd say these insults come from ethnocentric people with enough time on their hands to focus their energy on highfalutin, societal rules that come about from excess but that is tangential to my point. If you judge American standards by their massive supermarkets and discount retail stores, then of course you're going to be let down. I can't speak for all our American cultures but in the California melting pot we have a huge number of alternative markets (Whole Foods, Henry's, Wild Oats, etc.) that do not cater to the obese, often publicized American life style. We have great tea, wines and some of the best cheeses I've ever tried (And yes, I've traveled the world extensively. BTW, I'm rolling through Paris, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden starting in a week. Any K5ers near Munich want a beer?). Its easy to judge Americans by their worst but it also makes you look as ignorant as claim they are.

"Some days are good days to die and some days are good days for breakfast."

Excellent Point (none / 0) (#186)
by seraph93 on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 05:10:25 PM EST

Too many people outside of the US tend to think that Velveeta is the only cheese we have here, Coors and Budweiser the only beers, Thunderbird the only wine, generic airbrushed pop idols the only musicians, and so on and so forth.

Unfortunately, many Americans lack the taste required to appreciate the better things our culture has to offer. To use beer as an example (mmmmm, beer): Quite a few people here in the States would actually prefer a Coors Lite to a quality microbrew, due to the price, or a tragic childhood accident resulting in the utter destruction of the tastebuds, or whatever. Since it's the lowest common denominator that sells the most products, it's the companies that can cater to the needs of even the slimiest trailer-park troglodytes* that make the most money. And the companies that make the most money are the ones that can afford to export their products overseas. If Budweiser's the only American beer you can get overseas, it's not surprising that the people there would assume that Americans make crappy beer.

*Disclaimer: I am not implying that if you like Coors or Budweiser or whatever, that you are a troglodyte. While all troglodytes love Coors, not everyone who loves Coors is a troglodyte.
Ph-nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
[ Parent ]
I'll second that. (none / 0) (#231)
by Haelo on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 10:38:29 PM EST

I live in Portland, notorious for its non-mainstream attitude. You won't even find a cinema playing strictly Hollywood crap for miles, you have to go into the suberbs. We have all kinds of shops that carry excellent quality food luxuries. I'll be the first to admit though, once you get outside of the downtown area things can get pretty scary. There you will find people that hardly realize tea can be had in any other form than Liptons.

I realize a staggering percentage of Americans are pretty content to eat processed plastic cheese, drink wine out of a box, and consider watery beer to be an acceptable beverage -- but that hardly means the whole lot of us is downright ignorant of the rest of the world and the fact that you can get much finer things for a very small increment in dollar value if you just step out of Krogers for a moment and check out decent specialty shops.
[ Parent ]

Darjeelings (5.00 / 1) (#184)
by mkraats on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 04:34:34 PM EST

Darjeeling tea is often called the champagne of tea. The taste of Darjeeling tea also depends on the time of harvest or flush. The best quality is the Royal flush, which is also the most expensive, mainly because it is flown in from India to good tea importers everywhere, in my case Simon Levelt here in the Netherlands. Next are the first and (surprise) second flush, followed by the Monsoon flush because this flush is made at the time of the rainy season. The Royal and first flush tea's are very subtle in taste, while second and monsoon flush have a more robust and strong flavour. Darjeeling is indeed very sensitive to infusion time, a little too long and your wonderful cup of first flush Ambootia Darjeeling will almost make you throw up.

5 ... or 6 types of tea? (5.00 / 1) (#205)
by merkri on Tue Aug 05, 2003 at 09:45:39 PM EST

I've been drinking tea on a daily basis since I was about 12 or so. I'm an American, so I don't often get to discuss tea with someone. It's refreshing to see something like this.

Tea has become more popular in the states in the past few years, however. It's getting more and more attention.

I'm glad that the author of the article recognized the five basic types of tea. I don't fundamentally disagree, but I'd like to argue for a sixth distinction. That is, in addition to white, green, oolong, black, and pu-erh, I'd like to argue for pouchong as well.

Technically, a pouchong is a type of oolong, because the leaves are oxidized. However, its level of oxidation is much less than a standard oolong, leaving something that's not quite a green, and definitely not a golden oolong either. In terms of taste, it's completely different from a green or oolong as well. Pouchongs have a wonderful floral, botanical smell that is often described as "lilac" or "magnolia." Greens don't generally have this, nor do standard oolongs. It's a quibble, but something that I think is worth mentioning.

While I'm writing this, I might as well give a link to my favorite tea shop. It's a local store that I love--a wonderful owner with a great selection of tea. Unfortunately, most of their selection isn't available online. But it's a great place. They have an interesting, if somewhat humorous recommendation system for those who are new to tea.

Personally, my favorite teas are pouchongs. Among blacks, I prefer Yunnans. They have a wonderful cocoa-ish flavor. Try it sometime if you get the chance.

supermarkets are alright (none / 0) (#208)
by anonymous pancake on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 02:50:15 AM EST

I have found many tasty brands of herbal as well as black and green teas in local canadian supermarkets...

Personally I enjoy twinning earl grey tea a lot, the bags more than the loose tea. I find the loose tea tastes too "woody" for me, while the teabags present a pleasant taste especially when combined with a bit of lemon and sugar and no milk.

. <---- This is not a period, it is actually a very small drawing of the prophet mohhamed.

drank (5.00 / 1) (#210)
by werner on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 03:33:05 AM EST

is the simple past, not the perfect.

Rooibos Tea (5.00 / 1) (#211)
by mudrat on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 04:25:15 AM EST

One nice alternative to regular tea is the South African herbal Tea Rooibos (literally Red Bush). It has a very distinctive flavour and smell which people seem to either love or hate. Generally, Rooibos is not as complex as good traditional tea. It is, however, a very soothing drink which makes a nice alternative to other teas and coffees.

A lot of Rooibos from South Africa is exported to North America and Europe, so you should not have much trouble laying your hands on some. I encourage any seasoned tea drinker who has not tried it to get some and drink a few cups.

As a nice bonus, Rooibos tea is rumoured to have many health benefits.

England and Tea (3.50 / 2) (#213)
by robwells57 on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 05:09:41 AM EST


Saw a very interesting documentary about the origins of tea. Turns out that tea originally only came from China. The tea was exported to England and the Chinese tea growers would only accept payment in silver for their tea.

The English had nothing that the Chinese wanted. So they started shipping opium, grown in Burma, into China. And of course they only accepted silver as payment for the opium.

Now, after the Treaty of Nanking (1842) opened up the previously closed China, Robert Fortune arrived. During several visits he collected many plants including rhododendrons, jasmine and camelias. His trip back to China in 1848, at the behest of the East India Company, was primarily made to discover the secrets of tea growing.

He finished up smuggling 23,892 young plants and approx. 17,000 seedlings, along with eight chinese tea growers, to the foothills of the Himalayas in an effort to duplicate the optimum tea growing environments he had seen in China.

These original plants, and their descendants, are what are known as Darjeeling.

Just thought you might like to know.

'Avahappy, Rob

P.S. If you are ever in Paris try Mariage Frere on Rue de Bourg Tibourg. They are tea suppiers since 1854 with some awesome teas. Maybe try their Darjeeling Castleton

My teas of choice (none / 0) (#214)
by the wanderer on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 05:18:10 AM EST

China green tea: special gunpowder (funny name isn't it) and Twinnings Earl Grey. The loose leafed Earl Grey is available in my small time supermarket, the green tea i have to find a bit of a bigger town, where it is available in a supermarket.
Tea with milk i'll refuse to drink. Tea is at it's best in its pure form.
I had tea in an asian restaurant once which was incredibly good, alas it was on vacation and i forgot the name. But yeah, good article...

» david, the Lost Boy
» the Written Pixel

Maeda-en green tea (none / 0) (#227)
by fleetmouse on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 11:27:14 AM EST

I love a Japanese green tea called Maeda-en. It comes in two grades, regular and "gold" but I can't really tell the difference so I buy the regular which is cheaper.

If you brew it at just the right temperature you get a flavor which is like walking through a cornfield, or drinking a freshly cut lawn. It's indescribable.

I often brew it at a higher temperature though, and get a stronger murkier flavor with green foam floating on the top.

Yerba Mate' (none / 0) (#228)
by mcburton on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 01:56:53 PM EST

I can' believe no one has mentioned Yerba Mate'! Its my favorite tea, comes from South America and has lots of really good stuff in it too.

Yes! (none / 0) (#230)
by Haelo on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 10:28:54 PM EST

Like Rooibos red tea, Mate is not technically a tea, but it is really darn good, and surprising that it did not get a mention in this article. I love the form factor too.
[ Parent ]
Darjeeling does not equal black tea! (none / 0) (#232)
by Haelo on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 10:56:52 PM EST

Contrary to what the article says, and most people believe, darjeelings are not black teas. They can be prepared as black tea, but they can also be prepared as green, oolong or white tea. They make extremely tasty variants too. Witness the darjeeling white ( Makaibari Silvertips, DJ-131) which was the most expensive tea per kg at the 2003 Calcutta Tea Auction. Better be prepared to fork over the dough if you want to try it. Last I saw, it is selling for an insane $40 USD per 50g! Yes, that is a little over $2 a cup. (In comparison, you can get a very nice darjeeling green for around $9/100g.)

Other examples are the Arya Emerald Green, Namring Estate Green Extra Fancy, and the venerable Poobong Estate Oolong.

Then again, (none / 0) (#235)
by ksandstr on Thu Aug 19, 2004 at 03:52:42 PM EST

If you brew your precious white tea in a proper cup, you can likely get a good four or five steeps out of it, depending on how much time and hot water you have.

The highest I ever paid for tea was a little over twelve euros for 100g of a Pai Mu Tan (Baimudan?) white tea, half of which I gave away for fear that it would go bad before I'd consumed it all. And yes, it was an excellent white, good for some five steeps on the average before turning too subtle for me to taste.

I also read on rec.food.drink.tea a couple of weeks ago that the more exotic, first-flush green darjeeligs tend to fetch prices in Japan that a westerner would consider downright obscene. Maybe it's a form of hysteria, some mechanism that causes people to find something remotely desirable and then mentally locking into the thought that they must have it, and screw the price -- the same sort of thing you can observe all too often at auctions.

Gegen kommunismus und bolschewismus und terrorismus, jawohl!

[ Parent ]

Lapsang Souchong (none / 0) (#234)
by ksandstr on Thu Aug 19, 2004 at 03:43:08 PM EST

As far as I can tell, there are roughly two kinds of Lapsang Souchong tea imported into western continents these days. The first, which I personally don't like as much as the other kind, is the kind that is dried over burning wood that is not from a pine tree, giving it a definitely smoky smell and taste -- sometimes reminding me of the smell of a mid-summer bonfire.

The other kind, which seems to be somewhat popular in Finland (i.e. not all that hard to find), is dried over burning pine. This tends to give the better lapsang souchongs a powerful aroma of pine resin tar, the kind you'd find in the construction of a traditional style church boat or in a sauna in the woods, middle of nowhere, or possibly of the smell of new unlacquered wooden furniture, the kind that you find very viscous drops of resin under, waiting to fall in the next five years' time. It's obviously a completely different experience from sniffing the automobile exhaust in a busy city during rush hour.

Perhaps this is just finnish romanticking, but I'll recommend a mid-to-high quality lapsang souchong to anyone who's ever been in a proper (i.e. over 75 degrees C, with the birch twigs and all ;-) finnish sauna. Some won't like it, but for those who do it's well worth the trouble.

Teas, where to find (none / 0) (#236)
by garymill on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 09:58:08 AM EST

We sell a good amount of the teas cited in this article if you care ot take a look. Gary

Tea | 235 comments (171 topical, 64 editorial, 0 hidden)
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