It’s tea time

Let’s talk tea.

I am not talking about sweet tea (which I love) or those little teabags of earl grey (which I am fond of as well). I am talking about loose leaf tea, proper tea. Come on a journey with me, which will culminate in my first tea review. I am going to start reviewing tea brews and also tea companies, so that any of you who are interested can obtain some elixir of your own.

ME & TEA

Growing up I was not a fan of hot tea. I had it a couple of times at mamaw’s house and hated it. I saw people on TV and in movies drinking it, and it seemed an ‘old person’ thing.

When I was in my early twenties, a friend of mine introduced me to a cup of earl gray (thanks, Clay!) and I immediately realized that I had been wrong about tea along. I grew to truly appreciate several kinds of tea, which my friend graciously supplied. I did not, however, ever purchase any myself at this time.

That year, I resolved to get into tea. I bought a yixing clay teapot from a site I was tipped off to by a co-worker.  TenRen is a site that I will review later but want to go ahead and strongly recommend if you want to get into tea. Although I loved my earl grey, I wanted to make the leap into loose tea so I bought some Winter Oolong along with the tea set.

The team I was on at my company was big into tea, so I had multiple teas to try right off the bat. I still remember my first sip, and how it opened my palate to a whole new dimension. Slightly bitter, but pleasing, I fell in love with Oolong right away. My boss had some jasmine green tea, and that quickly became my favorite. It became a multiple time a day ritual to put on the electric kettle, and brew up a few pots of tea with the team.

Several containers of tea later, a couple of years had passed. My team had changed three times, and tea was a thing of the past. Electric kettles were banned at desks, and after a short while we all tired of going to the break room every time we wanted a pot of tea. My tea set went into the box, and there it stayed. I ended up giving it away in 2009, to someone who hopefully uses it regularly. It was a very nice set.

Back to 2007. I still liked tea, but I never drank it anymore. Then, I went on a cruise. It was a blast, and one thing they had was ‘high tea’. Once again, the path back to loose tea nirvana ran through tea bag territory. I had some pretty good earl grey, and it reminded me of how much I loved tea. I resolved to get back into it.

I did not. In 2009 I went on another cruise and again resolved to get back into tea ‘as soon as the weather cools down’. I did not.

It was not until late 2010 that I began to seriously think about spending the money to get back into tea. Our mall opened up a “Teavana” and so I went to check it out this past Christmas season. Although the pitch was heavy, and the tea was expensive, the employees appeared very sincere and I was impressed. It was time to finally put the tea where my mouth was.

THE PLUNGE

Around Christmas time I got a tea travel steeper and some tea that was on clearance. This was a bump in the road because although the tea itself is good, the travel steeper is asthetically pleasing only. The mesh you put the tea in must be submerged in water, it gets particulate in the tea, etc. The fact that they do not sell it on their web site should have given me a hint.

I considered giving up on tea, but having already invested over $40 on it already I decided to push on. I bought the Perfect Tea maker, which is a fascinating device. You basically just put in the leaves, add hot water, let steep, then place the maker on top of your cup. Doing this releases the tea into your cup, leaving the leaves in the maker. This makes resteeping a snap, I heartily recommend it.

In addition to the tea maker, I gave in to the beauty that is the hard sell from the passionate teaologists (that is what they call themselves, I am not making that up). I got some Youthberry (white tea), Jasmine Dragon Pearls (green tea), Assam Breeze (black tea), and Prosperous Peach (oolong). I also got a glass cup. Yes, I spent a pretty penny , but as they say “its an investment in your health and wellness”.

For me this is very true because I am drinking tea now where I used to drink coke all day. From a product with health detriments to a product with many, many health benefits, that is a huge switch.

OH, I almost forgot that I also got a special teaspoon for measuring out the tea. Lame? Not really. Regular spoons just can’t do it right, trust me. Teavana sells one, it is a very small investment that I guarantee is worth it.

THE ROUTINE

I decided to set up ‘shop’ at work, since my cube is extremely close to a coffeemaker, from which I can get the water to brew my tea. I like all of the tea that I got from Teavana (reviews later), and after my morning starbucks (we have a little coffee conclave, but that’s another post) I pretty much drink tea all day at work.

So far, I have noticed the following improvements: general feeling of well being, sleeping better, more alert, clarity of thought, less body aches, digestion improvement. And that is just off the top of my head. There is no going back now, and in fact I am preparing to get an electic kettle and another perfect tea maker for the house. I can then split my tea collection between home and work and cut back on cokes and other beverages at night as well. I feel good about these decisions.

I have gotten a couple of co-workers in on the tea-fest as well, and everyone I speak with comments on it. I am happy to share, as regardless of what they would have you believe at Teavana you can re-steep any of the tea you buy. I will say that the “Properous Peach” is only really good for 2 steepings, but I have re-steeped everything else 4 or so times with no loss of flavor. How? Slightly increase the amount of steep time per batch.

MORE TEA, PLEASE

Due to the cost of Teavana tea (I will get more into this in a future post), I have searched online to find good loose leaf tea retailers. I am sad to report that it is a mess out there, tons of places to buy but no real direction. I was unable to find any real reports out there saying ‘this place is great’ except for some about TenRen, whom I am already aware of.

I do not know why I did not go right back to TenRen, maybe it is because I already know they are amazing and I just want to try some other places before I come back. TenRen is also extremely reasonable in price and you are getting tea from Asia that you can trust. In any case, I will be ordering from them next. That is another post.

I will make links available here on my blog concerning shops I have looked into and/or used. I found a couple that really caught my eye, including one endorsed by Deepak Chopra. Although we really disagree on spiritual matters, the man seems like someone who would know what he is talking about when it comes to tea. I will review this company, Golden Moon Tea, in a future post.

Their web site totally impressed me, and I joined their tea of the month club. I also got their Jasmine green tea pearls and some “snow sprout” white tea. When I got their tea, it came in these individual reusable air-tight canisters. I have tried all of the tea, and it blew me away! Their tea is by far superior even to the amazing Teavana tea that I got, and I will definitely be ordering from them again.

As it stands, I have 8 varieties of tea, and expect to order 2 more from TenRen later this month. I am sold on the tea experience, and encourage you my excellent and intelligent reader to try it yourself.

Questions? Post away.

next, review of teavana buying experience. then, review of teavana teas. later, review of golden moon tea and their teas. stay tuned.

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~ by thoughtriver on February 2, 2011.

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