Jan 7, 2012

Tea Time

 


I gave Nessa a hard time yesterday about her tea bags, suggesting she run out and snag some loose leaves, stat!  I'm a tea snob and willing to help, so you're about to get schooled.  Sure, I may get called a royal sissy after this post, especially after admitting to sipping cherry blossom green tea. 


Tea Types
All tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.  The tea's type and flavor is determined by how the leaves are processed and aged after being harvested from farms in China, India and Japan.  

There are six types of tea and one pretend tea.  From light to dark, they are:  white, yellow, green, oolong, black and puerh.  Lighter teas have a low amount of caffeine, mild flavor and the highest stash of antioxidants. Darker teas have a higher amount of caffeine (but less than coffee), stronger flavor and fewer antioxidants.  Herbal contains no tea leaves, it's a potpourri of plants and herbs.  

I like em' all but black and herbal.



Get Loose
Do me a favor and pitch that sack of tea bags lurking in your cupboard.  You want loose leaves.  More expensive, but the improvement in taste and smoothness is ridiculous.  I like Gong Fu, a friendly small business that hocks 150 varieties.


Nice Equipment
You'll need a boiling kettle, teapot, strainer and temp gauge to do her right.  A Japanese Beehouse serves my habit. 



Brew Baby, Brew!
Pay attention to water temp and brew time, otherwise you'll end up with a bitter pot of suckiness.  Lighter teas like a lower temp and time, darker teas the opposite. 

Let's make some milk oolong, a medium tea with a creamy aftertaste.

1.  Filtered water is best, I use a Brita to weed out the cooties.













2.  Watch water boil.













3.  Transfer the hot water from kettle to teapot.  Insert gauge into hole and let her cool before adding the tea leaves.  Oolong likes 3 minutes at 208.  Different teas require different time and temp.














4.  A little tea goes a long way, one teaspoon is plenty strong for a 24 oz. pot.  Toss in the strainer, add a teaspoon of leaves and start the timer.













5.  Time's up, pull the strainer.  If you don't remove the tea, it gets bitter.  Most types of tea can be re-steeped a couple times, so don't throw it out just yet.
 












6.  Pour a cup with someone you love, raise your pinkies and enjoy!

-Beard

24 comments:

  1. Anonymous1/07/2012

    For us tea novices, what's your suggestion for easing into the "real" stuff? Do you have a specific recommendation?

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  2. Oh wow... timer and thermometer! I was seriously screwing this up. I get the water boiling hot... at least until the tea kettle screams at me and I put the monster in a safe place. (Somedays this could be 5 minutes of rolling boil.) Bag is in cup... pour. The bag sits the entire time I drink.

    I have moved beyond Lipton type... and on to some Yogi and the one with the sleepy bear on the front. I bet your skin is crawling. :)

    I have this bookmarked. Thank you - I will get better this year and drink some proper tea.

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  3. @Anon - China green tea is simple, inexpensive and tasty, I recommend it. Slap a scoop into a strainer, pour hot water into a mug, stew and enjoy.

    @Nessa - Ha, sounds like your pot has nearly boiled dry by the time you slough off the monster. I think you'll like the frou-frou stuff, give her a try and let me know what you think.

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  4. Well I might be high maintenance with my coffee...ahem, you take the tea, sir.

    Wow, who knew? I do like tea, a lot; I thought I already bought the fancy tea at the health food store? I tend to brew my in super big batches because I am an iced tea lover. Then I throw all sorts of weird stuff in there, oranges, ginger, some crazy concoction. Simplicity may not be my strong suite.

    Cute picture of you of Pigtails sipping tea though!

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  5. @Cari - A tea namby-pamby I am, how embarrassing. And it sounds like you are drinking some crazy hemp tea with orange peel there.

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  6. How informative! I learned so much about tea. All I know is the instant ones where you pop a tea bag in to a cup of hot water and presto, you have your own tea (flavored at times!).

    Nice post Beard!

    Ria C

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  7. @Ria - That's flavored sawdust, not tea you speak of. Ick, now go out and secure some high quality tea, pronto!

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  8. Great post, Beard. I dont think many people are aware that the teabags have almost none of the nutritional benefits that tea leaves actually have. My daughter and I drink green tea and sometimes add honey or lemon. I swear it has literally gotten us past all kinds of coughs and ickies but that could be in my crazy head. I also reuse the leaves. Not sure if that's a good idea but it ends up being very inexpensive.

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    Replies
    1. Agree, seems that I don't get sick when I drink tea leaves consistently. Having said that, I've surely jinxed and will come down with bird flu tomorrow morning.

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  9. Thanks for the post, Beard! I happen to be a coffee addict and have been thinking that I need to get away from it, but have been so intimidated by loose teas...so confusing! Thanks for clearing it up!

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    Replies
    1. Try replacing a cup of Joe with tea every few days, I think you'll like the way you feel.

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  10. Hey that's really a great post and a wonderful description out here, I really like the way things are being executed and discussed here.


    Buy Loose Tea

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    Replies
    1. Oh James, crazy sneaky James, slipping in a tea URL in a comment. I'll let it slide this time, now give me some tea!

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  11. I love your blog! I especially love the filtering cooties! If you can, I would suggest the water fountain on the sink. It saves money and you have filtered water for a longer time and tea tastes wonderful. (ez to install too) I think you are awesome for creating time with your pigtails and knowing how much it really means to her and you!!

    p.s. You can be a tea snob all you want, I'm one too!! Us snobs need to stick together!!!

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    Replies
    1. I want a filtered tap at the sink, but you gotta drill through the sink to install it, which won't work too well with a big honkin' porcelain farm sink. Oh well, Brita's taking good care of me.

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  12. I see your point. LOL I just happen to have the extra space and used it. Brita makes great tea and I have certainly noticed a difference since I started to use the filtered water. I also loved the remark of the "pretend tea". I have been giggling about that all day! :)

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    Replies
    1. Silly Ondaya, you are easily amused.

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  13. Anonymous1/30/2012

    My favorite tea is Rooibos tea which wasn't mentioned at all :( Also spicy teas. I haven't given the light teas a fair chance, so this year I'm going to try a few whites, greens and oolongs to see what the fuss is about. I've used Teavana and Adagio Teas before and liked both; fortunately, there is a nice tea shop in town that has a great selection too.

    Ann

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous Ann - Rooibos is a herbal tea, so it doesn't contain any actual tea leaves. Spiced teas are often black tea with cinnamon, citrus or other gunk folded in. Chai is usually spiced black tea with milk mixed in, makes for a good-and-hearty drink on a cold winter day.

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  14. I am seriously impressed with your tea knowledge. I have never been a tea (or coffee) drinker but I think I just might give it a try because of the health benefits. Now I can venture forth into tea land with proper instruction at my side! (all drama aside, thanks for a great tea lesson)

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  15. A cup of hot tea really does make you feel better, plus it helps chase off disease.

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  16. What if you want to make a pitcher of iced tea?
    And how much milk (or is it cream) to add to a cup of hot tea?
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Brew the tea double-strength, don't add ice until the tea cools to room temp else it'll water down.

      A splash of milk in your spot of tea sounds about right.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!