New to the world of tea! Where do I even start?
Hi folks! my name is Travis, and I recently experienced truly well brewed tea, and now I am addicted! I simply love the feeling tea gives you. I really want to try as many types of great teas as I can, but unfortunately…I am not sure where to start. If anyone would be willing to give me an idea of where to go from here, it would be very much appreciated. Either way though, I am definitely excited to expand my views and satisfy my adventurous palate!
First invest in some good teaware. It really does make all the difference. I wrote an article explaining some different types here http://www.examiner.com/article/the-importance-of-teaware
Second, buy quality LOOSE tea. I don’t even recommend the pyramid bags if you want to properly brew tea (except in emergency travel situations). I recommend buying from Rishi Tea www.rishi-tea.com or Teavivre www.teavivre.com both have free shipping after a certain amount. If you are overwhelmed as to what type of teas you like let me know some qualities you are looking for (grassy, malty, strong, light, floral, earthy, nutty etc…) I could definitely recommend you some good things to start with.
Also remember brewing tea is both an art and science. The tea to water ratio, temperature of water, and length of steeping time all contribute to different tastes of tea. It is a neverending quest to brew the “perfect cup” I usually brew teas several different ways and make notes on how I brewed each cup before sticking to a certain way.
Lastly, don’t be put off by the price of teas. You may see some that work out to be well over $150/lb but remember unlike coffee where you use over an oz of coffee each time you brew it, with tea you are only using between 3-7 grams for each cup, and each cup can be brewed several times. The bottom line price is just pennies even for high end teas.
Drink aaaaaaall the tea!
Joking aside, that was one of the best things I did when I started drinking tea ‘seriously’ – find a place that has good sample sizes and then try one of each – different production regions (for example Keemun vs. Yunnan vs. Assam black teas), different production styles (for example roasted tieguanyin vs. green style tieguanyin) :P Upton is pretty good if you want to try a range of black teas from different regions, and Life in Teacup is great for Chinese greens/oolongs (and a few Taiwanese I think). Den’s Tea has a $3 sampler for Japanese teas. One time I think I ordered like 30 different samples from Upton and didn’t like about half, so it was a good learning experience. I also never bought any one tea in quantities any larger than 1 oz when I started experimenting (and I mostly still don’t), since I can never be sure if I’ll like something and I don’t want to get stuck with a ton of stuff I don’t like. Although it’s good for swaps…
I just read your article James, and it seems there is a lot to consider when it comes to the right teaware to pick. Now from the teas I have tried, I have noticed that I tend to like teas like green tea, black teas, and oolongs. I had this really good one called Monkey Picked Oolong, which was very smooth and had a great flavor. I am sure the more I try, I will be able to gain an understanding of each of these flavors even better. I’ll be sure to ask you for advice in that regard in the future!
I’ll be sure to poke around and find an affordable tea sample kit Meeka. I had a feeling that Teavana was trying to rip me off, so I think a little research certainly won’t hurt me in that regard :)
If you liked Monkey Picked Oolong check out Tie Kuan Yin (There are many ways to spell it) or Pouchong (Bao zhong) They are greener oolongs that are pretty easy to brew. Yes, Teavana is ripping you off.
Teavivre offers 5 samples to all Steepster users free (free shipping too) http://www.teavivre.com/contacts/free_tea_tasting/ just put your Steepster profile address where it asks for your blog address. It takes about 2 weeks to receive them. I would recommend their Tie Guan Yin, Super Fine Dragonwell, Bailin Gong Fu, Premium Keemun.
Upton also has tons of samples that are pretty cheap. Chicago Tea Garden also offers samples for $3 with free shipping, they have some of the best quality tea I have tried.
Welcome to Steepster!
Samples are an excellent way to test your palate in a more cost efficient way. The places tab will give you an idea of vendors close to you. This is a link to reviewed online vendors.http://steepster.com/places?near=&name=online
You can also try out the tea tabs and browse different types of tea. You’ll be able to get an idea of what to expect from the teas reviewed there.
Here are a few threads that may help:
Also start following people – most will follow you back. Then you can see their tea log notes and decide on some to put in your wish list (shopping list)