How do others in your life view/experience your “relationship” with tea?
My relationship with tea has never been odd to anyone, I’ve actually gotten some of my family members back into it. When I first started bringing some to my parents place and creating my own stash there my parents didn’t really think much of it, my dad and grandma thinks it looks like drugs though. My mom on the other hand would always say how good it smelled and I always offered her some but she told me that after she got pregnant with me she couldn’t drink tea anymore, it made her sick. I eventually found out that it was black tea that she used to drink and so I would let her try some white teas and rooibos. Now she has her own stash started and can drink up to roasted oolongs, still no black teas though. I’ve got my older sister back into drinking teas again, and now her daughters do too. My mother-in-law was drinking tea before I met her and so that side of the family never saw anything weird about my love of tea. I’ve never really had a negative experience with family or friends, although my husband does give me funny looks whenever I get a new shipment of tea in, but he doesn’t really mind, he just likes to make fun of me.
It’s funny how many people think loose leaf tea looks like ‘drugs’—which I assume means Marijuana. It’s good to hear that you figured out what your mom was intolerant to so she can drink tea too! It’s also good that you have not had any negative experiences with family or friends and that you and your husband can joke about any new tea purchases. My wife and I have many an ongoing joke about me and my Tea!
I was talking to my mom today and I she told me that the tea she used to drink that now makes her sick is the bagged Lipton tea. I told her I’ll get her some samples of actual black tea for her to try.
My wife is fairly resigned to it all – My serious interest in tea only really started about a year back, at which point our kitchen was already overflowing with coffee equipment :) thankfully, tea ware is generally much more compact than coffee kit!
It’s good to have someone ‘on-board’ here who has an interest in both. I still like coffee, and I would be willing to bet that coffee can have as many subtle gifts—with all of the complex flavors and aromas—as tea. The amount of caffeine in a typical cup of coffee is the biggest roadblock for me (I primarily drink green tea, which has much less caffeine than coffee—I believe because of green teas much lower steeping temperature). But there’s also the health benefits, the visual aspect of tea, etc. Anyway, I’m sure there’s been a past thread already started about comparing them both, but no harm in someone starting a new one, now is there? … What, hmm, me? No thank you. Did I mean you? Well, you could start one; then again anyone could. : )
There’s definitely loads of parallels between coffee and tea in tasting and brewing – I might start a thread ;)
I also wrote a blog post comparing the brewing of tea and coffee – any thoughts (and corrections) from a tea perspective would be appreciated :)
I just read your blog post. Thank you for sharing it with us. : )
I was surprised by a few things I didn’t know about coffee: “… roasted coffee see a big drop within a couple of weeks of roast.” Wow. The little coffee I did keep around I kept in my freezer, and I would throw it out after a year or so, but I probably couldn’t have told exactly when it was going ‘bad’. Makes me appreciate tea for its relative staying power over coffee. I also thought coffee was always brewed with boiling water, as opposed to 85 – 95 C. Does it taste bitter if it’s brewed at 100C?
I agree that green teas can be, what I like to call, delicate. In my experience, most green tea that is steeped with too high a temperature (which varies, but commonly over 190F) ‘scorches’ the leaves leaving the resulting brew tasting flat, not necessarily astringent. I see the astringency coming from steeping the leaves too long (again, it depends of the particular green tea, but more then three minutes steeping time can sometimes result in astringent tasting tea liquor). Then again, every palette is different.
Yes – overly hot water is one cause of bitterness in coffee (sometimes described as scalding the grinds). Water a short while off the boil is generally recommended. The relatively long shelf life of tea in comparison to coffee is definitely nice!
Unfortunately, most coffee you come across in shops is already well past it’s best, so spotting a noticeable decline is tough! Good coffee roasters now print a “roasted on” date on their beans, so you can judge for yourself. It’s one of those things were once you’ve tasted freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee, well brewed coffee, there’s no going back ;)
The U.S. is blessed with some great speciality coffee roasters and shops – definitely try a fresh filter coffee from one if you come across one. There are plenty around and many are starting to show an interest in tea too.
My friends know of my tea drinking and especially my passion for pretty tea cups and saucers and all the trappings. I’ll never forget the day my best friend was sitting with a cup looking very uncomfortable and suddenly asked, “Don’t you have a mug?” She just doesn’t “get” it. :)
forsythia: Great story! I don’t know what kind of cup you gave your friend, but even I feel a little uncomfortable using the more delicate cups—which is what I am guessing that her cup was, no?
Well, I collect and use Royal Albert cup/saucers so the cup wasn’t all that delicate. This same friend is known to take the cup and saucer then lay the saucer aside and set the cup down beside it. ha. Like I said, she’s just a coffee mug type of person, a good friend none the less.
Since becoming addicted to loose leaf teas, my friends hear nothing but my latest tea purchase. Whether it’s about the flavor of the moment or the latest teapot, teacup & saucer or strainer purchase, they indulge me. They know I am just happy to share my addiction.
And I love when people come over & expect me to brew them some fancy tea. It’s amazing how lucky I am for the people in my life to be supportive….even though I do get some strange looks about all the teapots & accessories I have amassed over the last year. :)
I love serving tea to others! Although they are not my favorite class of tea, I think oolongs are the most fun to showcase—as I like showing how the leaves unfold and unfurl over each new steeping. One friend recently commented on how amazed he was at how much volume the dried leaves swell to after being steeped.
I have been looking forward to actually using a flowering tea to show off during a party. I have the perfect glass teapot for it. I tend to brew my favorite flavor of the moment when friends come over. But oolongs are good for sharing….especially since you can resteep the leaves for several pots.
My husband likes to roll his eyes at my teapots (lol, come on, I only have 3!), or when I come home with a new bag of tea……“don’t you already have tonnes of tea?” he asks. And I just smile.
He especially likes to laugh at sending tea in the mail to swap, he thinks I might get arrested because “the cops will think it’s drugs”.
My other family and friends just laugh but I have already gotten my sister-in-law and mother-in-law hooked on tea!
it may seem obsessive to others but not my wife. She is certified in Japanese Tea Ceremony and tea is a part of her life. She loves Darjeeling 1st flush teas and so do I. While this may be a good thing, it is not always a good thing. There were always checks and balances on my tea purchases in past relationship but after our marriage, there is none. So, the amount of money we spend on teas gets ridiculous at times.
Well, when it comes down to it, in regards to what is or isn’t ‘ridiculous’, what really matters is whether or not it’s worth it to you, isn’t it? I have spent ‘umpteem’ hours on my tea shelf, which many may call ‘ridiculous’ for example, but both the process of getting it to where it is, and the end result, have given me great joy.
btw, my understanding is that you love Mariage Freres FF Darjeelings, and you seem to know a lot about FF Darjeelings in general; do you know how Tea Trekker’s compare? I have some of their Darjeeling Jungpana Estate 2009 1st Flush SFTGFOP1. Do you know how that stacks up to Mariage Freres FF Darjeelings?
The recent FF teas other than Mariage Freres I have tried are:
Castleton Moonlight FF 2011
Risheehat Exotic Spring FF 2011
Giddapahar SFTGFOP1 Clonal Fine
2011 FF Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1
When comparing these teas to the Mariage FF, the Mariage FF has more depth and body, while still maintaining the delicate flavor of a FF Darjeeling tea. The above teas from Thunderbolt were flat and lacked the complexity of taste which characterizes the Mariage FF Darjeelings. Try the Mariage Freres FF Castleton and you will experience the complexity of so many tastes blending together so well that the overall flavor is still coherent. Lots of fruity aroma and taste. Astringency can be controlled by the length of time for brewing. One unique aspect of this Castleton is Mariage Frere’s recommended brewing time of 5 minutes. I tried 3, 4, 5, 6 minutes. The full flavor can only be brought out by 5 minutes of brewing. At 6 minutes, the astringency starts the mask some of the complex tastes involved with this tea.
I was qutie disappointed with the Upton 2011 FF Margaret’s Hope. The taste was very weak/light making it difficult to even distinguish it what variety of tea it actually was. Had I not known, and if was not printed on the label, I would not have guessed that the tea was in fact a Darjeeling. The Mariage Freres FF Margaret’s Hope is quite different. It is slightly bolder in taste compared to the Castleton and has slightly less in the myriad of tastes the Castleton has yet it is very good in its own distinctive way.
I terms of the MF 2011 FF Jungpana SFTGFOP1 this is also a very very good tea and it is the least expensive of the FF Darjeeling teas from Mariage I have tried. 28 Euros per 100g.
Like i wrote somewhere before, I have tried Lupicia, Fauchon, Fortnum and Mason, Brook Bond, Marine de Bourbon, etc, I have not tried Tea Trekker’s FF Darjeeling so after this rather long post, I cannot answer your question. It is almost March and in another two months, the 2012 FF Darjeelings should become available. At that time, I should send you a sample of the teas so you can make a comparison for yourself. Everyone’s preferences, likes, dislikes can be very different so taking my for it and spending 40 Euro’s + shipping fees + handling fees is a risk you might not want to take.
I really should though, write a more detailed review on the premium FF Darjeelings I am drinking right now.
One last comment. Mariage Freres has lower cost FF Darjeelings teas that are good yet nowhere near the level of the premium teas. The Princeton Blend, the Springside, Gielle, Orange Valley, Bannockburn, are the MF teas I have tried that would fall into this group.
Thank you for your detailed response!
Thank you very much for your very generous offer to send me a sample of a 2012 FF Darjeeling. I just may take you up on it (if you are still willing come this late spring/early summer when I think the 2012 FF Darjeelings will become available). If so, I would be happy to send you any tea I have (if anything in my cupboard catches your—or your wife’s—fancy). I could even send you some of the 2009 Tea Trekker’s FF Darjeeling I have, if it would interest you (being aware of the year on that one, another question comes up: how long have you found the FF Darjeelings to last?)
I would enjoy reading any review you would write on any of the FF Darjeelings you drink. : )
btw, do you know, and are you willing to you tell us, the current standard (I know it will slightly vary) exchange rate between the Euro and the USD, to give me a better idea of the prices? I am certain 28 Euro for 100g is beyond my reach (let alone 40+), but I was wondering how far beyond.
On a somewhat related question, I have read that a Darjeeling can ‘bolt’—which evidently means that particular flush will releases lots of tannins (?) into the brew after that time (rather then do it gradually). Maybe that’s the 6 minute mark you mention above for that particular Darjeeling. I have brewed up the two Darjeelings of Tea Trekkers I have, and gone possibly as long as 7 minutes on the steep time and have never experienced this. Anyway, you seem like the perfect person to ask.
I know, I’m asking lots of questions (it’s in my nature to ask for information when I find the rare person who seems capable and willing to give answers). So, I appreciate any info you are willing to share!
btw, your mention in another thread of MF getting the tea from France to CA, USA, in seven days is impressive!
Thanks for the reply. To answer your questions, 28E=$37.35
40E=$53.36. This is the price for 100 grams and there is an additional shipping fee + handling fees and so it gets quite expensive.
Bolt is an interesting question and it will widely vary depending on the type of Darjeeling. I always use the brewing instructions printed on the label as a baseline. 5 minutes for FF Castleton, 4 minutes for FF Margaret’s Hope and Namring DJ1. I found these teas not to be forgiving and would defnitely exhibit a lot of astringency going past the recommended times. Most other Mariage teas are recommended with a 3 minute brewing time, and I found the teas like FF Jungpana forgiving that going past 3 minutes, it would slowly acquire an astringent taste.
One interesting tea is the FF Orange Valley tea from Mariage. If the tea is consumed while hot, the tea is not astringent. If the tea is left to cool, it becomes extremely astringent. I have no idea why this is. I though it is because the tongue is desensitized with very hot and very cold beverages. Yet drinking the Premium Darjeelings whether hot or cool, the taste does not change.
20 yeara ago, I was quite happy drinking Twinning teas. 15 years ago, I tasted the Mariage Freres Princeton Blend it it opened up a whole now world of tea. The I tried the Queen victoria blend. Now having tasted the Mariage Freres Premium FF Darjeelings, I have never looked back. I was amazed marginal gains does not apply to the Mariage teas. The Premium FF Darjeelings are definitely worth the price I pay for them. I wish it were not so and I still search for lower cost options. i do drink Oolong tea and green tea on occasions. Yet those teas are not necessarily on the inexpensive side either.
BTW, i found the online customer service department to be quite accommodating. One time they short shipped me. I wrote them an email, did not receive a reply, but after 5 days a package was delivered with the tea, and an apology letter from the GM of Mariage Freres.
Thanks responding and answering my questions.
Wow, $38++USD, and $53++USD? That is quite expensive. Still, if it’s definitely worth it to you, then that’s great. After all, that’s what money is for. What are you gonna do?
Great story about the shipping slip up on their end, and how they handed it. To me, personal notes convey volumes. I really like hearing little stories like that. I think they are an important part of the greater picture of how a business conducts itself overall.
Only twelve months shelf life? From what I have read it seems to me that the first flushes of any tea (as I believe is the case with green teas) are more delicate, and are therefore more vulnerable to the elements (like light and humidity) than other teas are. So I guess in that light it’s not too much of a surprise.
It’s sounds like ‘bolting’ is just what I thought it was. Thanks for your experience and the data regarding steep times.
That FF Orange Valley tea from Mariage does sound interesting. I like it when Nature does things that don’t necessarily fit in with my understanding of things (as long as its not dangerous, that is). It reminds me of how little I actually know about how things work.
The more you tell me how great these teas are, the more I am intrigued by them!
Being in high school I have a very unique passion for tea for my age, and a lot of people see it as a strange thing. As for my parents, they see it as a compulsive obsession and it genuinely concerns them, unfortunately. My girlfriend thought it was strange too at one point, but once I gave her her first cups of oolong and silver needle she changed her mind and is starting to get into tea as well, just not in the same mindset of “gotta try it all” as me.
Compared with my husband’s fetish on cameras, my “relationship” with tea is barely visible in terms of either cost or volume :-D Typically, when a new camera arrives, he would spend hours on it, with all the “kisses and hugs”. Then he might talked and talked about how wonderful the lens is, and other camera parts I never remember names of. Then he may say, “do you think it’s nice, honey?” Then I may say, “I’ve no idea… but the camera cover is made of really nice leather… oh I love the red color of this leather!” So just to be fair, I don’t expect him to know my tea well either :-p
I think I am fortunate that my wife and I share an interest in loose leaf tea.
Still, your story makes me laugh, as it could totally be us: with her Hollywood magazines and my love of fantasy/sci-fi books and movies. Many years back I even made fun of how into a romance novel she was, when I said something the the effect of ,“Pftt, come on, that’s not even real!” when moments before I told her in detail how moving a part in Lord of the Rings was too me. At first she quietly looked at me, and then—needless to say—she proceeded to put me in my place. We still laugh about it every now and then. It amazes me how some of our passions can be so precisely aligned and others can seem as different as night and day. Ah, humans. What can we do?! Sometimes, nothing, other than to laugh at ourselves.
I have always been extremely open with everyone around me regarding anything that I am particularly “into”. Anyone who has known me for more than a day knows that I love local theatre, Harry Potter, and tea. I’ve been working in local theatre for 6+ years now, so that has become an accepted part of who I am. I have been an HP fan since I was 13 or 14 and currently have 2 Harry Potter tattoos and have been known to travel the country (and on occasion the world) to attend HP-related events and cons. This area of my life, while accepted by family and friends, is something of a point of contention to some who can’t seem to see or understand that I have a balanced life with many other activities, loves, and people.
More recently, my developing love of fine teas has come to the fore. I know some people think I’m a little over the top with it, but most of them are also comparing it to their perception of my HP love and they see it in more moderation.
My office is an extremely fun and interesting place filled with great people (we’re at around 300 in the company and they still treat us like there were fewer of us, so it’s really nice). They are so aware of my HP love that the CEO has been calling me “Hogwarts” for the past 3 or so years. (Sidebar: When he got in a car accident and busted his head open a bit, I got frustrated at the nickname once and decided he needed one in turn. “How about Harry Potter because of that new scar you have on your forehead?” I said loudly… Needless to say, he respects me to this day for my bravado and lack of kissing his ass. Ha!) In any case, to my co-workers, my new developed interest in tea is just another point to talk to me about. Some are more interested than others and even more have come forward to tell me how much they love tea, but have never really had an outlet or another person in the company to talk about it with.
Ever since my tea blog started, I feel like I’m able to start with at least a bit of an audience of people new to tea or with only a limited amount of existing tea knowledge. It’s fun!
Sorry, I guess this turned into stories about people reacting to my “obsessions” in general instead of just tea… but still fun to share!!
No need at all to be sorry, I enjoyed reading everything you had to share with us!
I can relate to what you wrote in the first paragraph, so I thought I’d share this one positive description of me: I am a very passionate person, whom still has his feet on the ground, and loves to walk around!
This really made me laugh: “They are so aware of my HP love that the CEO has been calling me “Hogwarts” for the past 3 or so years.” And what a great follow up story, too! One turn—good, or otherwise—certainly deserves another!
I really like how you explain that tea is sometimes a topic on which you and your co-workers find some common ground. If you are very open about you passion around Tea—which it sounds like you are, then you may very well be the go-to person at your company for everything Tea! How great at your place of work to be, to borrow a phrase from a very influential book—not a quote from HP though unfortunately, ‘The voice of one crying out in the desert’: drink more tea!
Ha! I’m glad you enjoyed my little stories.
I think I am already becoming a go-to person for tea. I had already established it a little bit when I sent out a mass email to the bulk of employees to see if anyone wanted me to bring them back some tea from China when I went over there for a visit. And now that my blog has gone live and I’m really pushing that, it’s just expanding! Just today, I was having a small break room tea party and went to invite one more friend just to find even one more who loves tea and joined us as well!
Hi, My Name is Myspecialtea, and i’m a Tea-Aholic.
and yes, i have had interventions done…and i’m a tea horder.
and i bless people with tea
even if they never drink it :P
i love the smell of coffee, but hate the taste
the smell of an earl grey will always embrace me.
oops, i’ve said too much.
goes back to sheepishly sip her tea