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Becoming a tea drinker.

trentk

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Just to preface this, I'm somewhat of a "tea nerd" and I brew my tea the traditional way. So... hopefully I can make my 2nd post an epic one. There are various categories and subcategories of tea: White Green -Chinese Greens -Japanese Greens Oolong -Wuyi -Dan Cong -Taiwanese -Anxi Black Pu Erh -Shu -Sheng Buying Tea: Tea bought online from reputable vendors is worlds better quality wise than anything you will find at a supermarket. I'll provide links to my personal favorite vendors for each type of tea. General overview of most of the types: White: My least favorite type of tea. I won't cover this b/c I think other types of tea taste much better. Japanese Greens: Taste: Grassy & vegetal Japan produces only green tea, whereas china produces many different varieties of tea. Because the japanese specialize in green tea, I generally like japanese green tea more than chinese greens. The main difference between chinese and japanese greens is that japanese are steamed whereas Chinese are not. Recommended vendor: http://www.o-cha.com I would recommend trying the "shincha fukamashi supreme" shincha is tea picked in the 1st harvest and is almost always better than tea picked in subsequent harvests. How to brew (IMPORTANT - BREWING WRONG MAKES THE TEA TASTE HORRIBLE): http://www.o-cha.com/brew.htm If you want to learn more about japanese greens, http://greenteaforum.o-cha.com/ is a great resource composed of many members who know alot more about tea than me. Oolong: To quote wikipedia "Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea somewhere between green and black in oxidation. It ranges from 10% to 70% oxidation. Oolong has a taste more akin to green tea than to black tea: it lacks the rosy, sweet aroma of black tea but it likewise does not have the stridently grassy vegetal notes that typify green tea." There are various subcategories of oolong tea: anxi, taiwan, wuyi, and dancong. Each is unique and tastes vastly different from the other categories. Recommended Vendor: http://houdeasianart.com/ Taiwanese Oolongs: Light/non roasted Taiwanese oolongs taste somewhat like green tea. Roasted taiwanese oolongs are more like "coffee" Recommended Vendor: http://houdeasianart.com/ How to brew: lightly/non roastedhttp://teamasters.blogspot.com/2005/...4-brewing.html Roasted: Gong Fu Cha Brewing (see special gong fu section) Recommended Vendor: http://houdeasianart.com/ Wuyi Oolong: Taste: complex, chocolaty, sweet. here are a few reviews (not by me) describing the taste - http://half-dipper.blogspot.com/2007...-shuixian.html http://weblog.xanga.com/MarshalN/tags/wuyiyancha How to Brew: Gong Fu Recommended Vendor: http://houdeasianart.com/ Dan Cong: Taste: floral and fruity See http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/se...0Cong%20Oolong to learn more. How to Brew: http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/20...-dan-cong.html Recommended Vendor: http://houdeasianart.com/ Sheng Pu Erh: Taste: complex, every pu erh is different. Here are a few reviews - http://half-dipper.blogspot.com/2007...ghai-8582.html http://weblog.xanga.com/MarshalN/tags/agedpuerh About Pu Erh: Pu Erh is tea that is meant to be aged, much like a fine wine. How to Brew: Gong Fu Recommended Vendor: http://houdeasianart.com/ Gong Fu Brewing: Basically, in Gong Fu brewing you use small teaware with a high leaf/water ratio. Instead of brewing 1 long infusion, you brew many short infusions of the same tea leaves. Why type a long description when many others already have? http://www.wikihow.com/Brew-Kung-Fu-Tea' Teaware: Teaware and our shared love for admiring finely crafted clothing go hand in hand. Just as a denim enthusiast would enjoy watching a pair of raw jeans age, so would a tea enthusiast enjoy watching a fine pot age. Japanese Teaware: Tokoname Teapot: unglazed clay teapot http://www.artisticnippon.com/produc...onameindex.htm Yuzamushi: used for cooling water http://www.artisticnippon.com/produc...onameindex.htm (see bottom of linked page) Hagi-Yaki Cups: ceramic cups that improve with age http://stores.ebay.com/MAGOKORODO_Te...QQftidZ2QQtZkm Chinese Teaware: Yixing Pots: small, unglazed, clay pots that "absorb" the flavor a specific tea and enhance it's taste http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=15&zenid=fe56a9ba87e8eb62d078d197a3d19720 (Note: the link directs you towards the "best of the best" yixing pots. You don't need to spend upwards of $100 to get a good one. The yixings I use are only between $20-70) Tea Trays: used for catching spilled water in gong fu brewing Tasting Cup: Small cup used for tasting tea Aroma Cup: a specially designed cup that enhances the tea's aroma. tea is first poured into the aroma cup, then out of that into the tasting cup. What I would recommend buying as a "bare bones starter set": Cheap Gaiwan: http://stores.ebay.com/Yunnan-Sourci...QQftidZ2QQtZkm 1 sample of each kind of tea: from one of my suggested vendors Resources: The stuff I posted is just a quick, short, intro into the world of tea. If you are curious, I would Highly recommend checking out the following resources: Forums: http://www.teachat.com/ http://greenteaforum.o-cha.com/index.php http://community.livejournal.com/puerh_tea/ Blogs: http://www.xanga.com/MarshalN http://half-dipper.blogspot.com/ http://teamasters.blogspot.com/ My Blog (I just started it and will begin updating it in a few weeks) http://trentea.blogspot.com/ Other: http://www.wikicha.com (the wikipedia of tea)
 

sygyzy

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Originally Posted by javyn
How is Adagio really? Are they good enough to justify the substantially higher prices over Upton?

Adagio is not so good. They have good customer service but there really is no reason to shop anywhere but Upton. They are the best in all regards.

The few things I won't buy from Upton are Pur-Eh and Shincha.
 

trentk

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I agree that upton is one of (if not the) best source for black tea, however, I wouldn't get anything else from them. (They also have some unique herbals). There was recently a thread in TeaChat about the poor quality of upton oolongs http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?t=5481.

If you're gonna buy some tea, I would also recommend that you check out the resources I posted in my previous post - there are people at those sites that are really experienced with tea and would love to help get you started.

There are a number of high quality oolong vendors, some of my favorites being:
http://houdeasianart.com/ and...
http://www.jingteashop.com/

For Shincha (and any other japanese green):
http://www.o-cha.com/home.php is my favorite.

For pu-erh, I'd use:
http://houdeasianart.com/
or, for some cheaper stuff
http://www.puerhshop.com/

sygyzy,
just out of curiosity, where do you like to get your shincha and pu erh?
 

HORNS

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As for a purveyor of teas that I absolutely love, I highly recommend Mariage Freres. It is a shop in Paris, in the Marais. My favorite is this green tea combined with mint and rose petals, called Arabie.

http://www.mariagefreres.com/

Someday, I am determined to have this teapot (sorry for the tiny picture):

http://www.mariagefreres.com/MFI_BOU...B/t2/A3000.jpg

The problem is that it's 1,200 euros, but it's something that would be passed down for generations.
 

trentk

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On the subject of teaware, here's some japanese stuff that I love (I aslo have a few of them).
(click on pics to see more info & where to buy)

"A very unusual lidded teacup from Hasami, Nagasaki prefecture. The small holes around the sides are individually punched out by hand to create a lacy pattern and then filled in with "secret crystal", a material whose exact properties are known only to the craftsmen of the kiln! When held up to the light, the holes sparkle, adding a lovely translucent quality to the white porcelain which is further offset by bands of sometsuke wave patterns. Exquisite craftsmanship! A great way to enjoy the visual effect of the green tea in the cup as well as savoring the taste!"


"Tobikanna is the name for the tool used to create the distinctive pattern on this pot. It is a simple tool made of iron or bamboo which hops and plunges against a moving clay surface, creating texture and incised decoration simultaneously.
A small size teapot suitable for a cup of tea.
Built-in ceramic mesh infusor"


This piece is not glazed, it is fired in a kiln where it comes in direct contact with ashes, embers, etc... The reaction between those elements creates the surface effect. The piece is a yuzamashi, a vessel used to cool water in b/c green tea tastes bitter if brewed with boiling water. The water temp should be between 140 and 185.


Much like raw denim or quality leather, hagi ware changes and improves with age
"Hagi ware contains cracks, known as 'Kannyu', in its foundation. This gives it different properties of ventilation and water permeability to porcelain. Part of the charm of Hagi ware is the incrustation of tea into the cracks through use, resulting in subtle changes of pattern and colour. "

Once again, if you're interested, check out the resources in my 1st post in this thread.
 

javyn

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Upton's black teas and tisanes are very good (check out the Darjeeling TGFOP, delicious and cheap!), but I wouldn't bother with them for oolongs/greens/whites.
 

Crane's

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I have white, green and black leaf tea in my cabinet. I'm partial to black teas though the white and green are a nice change of pace. As noted above once you start using premium leaf teas the bagged stuff is history.

If you really want to try something different try the tea flowers and watch them bloom.......

then drink away.
 

robbie_cat

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Originally Posted by Mandrake9072
Oh yes, coming from an Indian family, I'm not completely new to tea. My parents drink tea at least twice a day. I was actually shocked at the fact that people drank tea w/o milk, since I was always used to seeing family members drink with milk.

But a recent health study found that adding milk negates any of the major health benefits.


I've recently started drinking tea myself, mainly because my manager made me tea at work one day, and it really made me feel good- I felt very focus and centered and I felt like I gave better customer service because I was in such a good mood.

So I went to Safeway and found a some tea that I like, which is similar to that I hve at work. Its a black spiced chai tea made by Stash.

Bring water to a rolling boil, pour into a mug and add the teabag and let it sit for five minutes. I leave enough space at the top of my mug to add milk and sugar in afterwards as well.
 

trentk

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Robbie If you're just getting into tea, I would highly suggest you read my general post about tea. For you money, there are a lot better vendors out there than stash.
 

chobochobo

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Resurrecting this thread as I'm finally working my way through teas that I bought last year in London.

Growing up working class in the UK, I've been drinking tea made from PG Tips tea bags - sometimes Marks and Spencers Gold (particularly when I found that PG tips were not easily available in HK about 15 years ago), sometimes Twinnings everyday and less often Tetley's). I also drink Earl Grey in phases, mostly Twinnings though I get TWG sometimes. Last year, I was in London for a few weeks for work, and I wandered into Fortnums and Harrods one day and ended up buying several hundred pounds (cost, not weight) of loose tea. I finally got round to starting on that stash last month,

I started with F&N Irish Breakfast which is a blend of Assam and Kenyan that seems to be rolled into granules. It's strong, with a kick and only a hint of bitterness even when steeped. That was 9.50GBP for 250G.

I then went onto F&N Assam Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe or TGFOP to those regular drinkers. A more conventional leafy appearance. The tea is almost as strong as IB, full bodied but much smoother. A great all day tea, whereas you felt Irish Breakfast just seemed a bit too bracing for the evenings - I drink a lot of tea. With milk, no sugar. 19.50 for 250G.

I'm currently on some Taylors of Harrogate loose Pure Assam Leaf Tea that I was gifted in a hamper several years ago (it's a common way of gifting at holidays). Like TGFOP it's from Brahmaputra in north east India. Less body than TGFOP but still a decent cup. Web price is 7.30-9USD per 125g.

Next, probably Harrods English Breakfast.
 

chobochobo

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First cup of Harrods English Breakfast today. The bags are resealable which is a plus over Fortnums. Tea is a bit weak despite using slightly more than the Assams. I shall experiment more.
 

chobochobo

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Finished the Harrods English Breakfast. Not bad, a bit bitter when steeped for too long. Very much like a smoother PG tips. I miss the kick from pure Assam.

Next, a big tin of Twinnings English Breakfast, that I got from Selfridges during the same trip.
 

EddyP

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I have discovered the joys of fruity green teas recently, delicious and makes a nice change!
 

chobochobo

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Twinnings English Breakfast was followed by a box of Twinnings everyday that wasn't too bad. You kind of miss the complexities/ details with the Assam, but you get used to the 'cuppa'. Now just starting another loose leaf, Jubilee blend from Fortnums and Mason.
 

chobochobo

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Jubilee blend is pretty good. Decent amount of additional flavours augmenting the taste. No bitterness even on steeping.
 

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