Oh Teavana :(
Tea from Taiwan states their teas(high mountain oolong) should be steeped at 205F. Mariage Freres states 203F(Taiwanese Blue Oolong). A differential of 3 to 5 degrees should not make much of a difference. How warm your pot is before steeping, how much water to tea your pot holds, what your pot is made of, can throw the temperature of by 3, 5, 10 even 13 F. If your teas is of bad quality and is bitter to begin with, then it’s a whole different story.
Interesting comments. It’s always possible an employee could give incorrect advice, but it’s also possible a customer misundertood something. Not only that, a very popular company on Steepster (I won’t name it)recommended boiling water for a light milk oolong I ordered recently. I reduced the temp.on my own. As far as Teavana sweetening their tea samples, I can see their point of view-it probably is more appealing to their average customer. I would prefer adding my own sweetener to taste rather than to have it added for me, especially since the only sweetener I use is Stevia. I am an RN and have studied a little on how taste perceptions vary from person to person. About 1/4 of people are super tasters for example. Many other factors affect how people perceive taste-health conditions, age, etc. Not to bore people with a lot of science, but people vary on this. There is no right or wrong when it comes to taste preferences. I for one usually try a tea unsweetened first, but generally find that I prefer it lightly sweetened with stevia. Stevia is an herb, its safe, and is almost calorie free. It is very reasonably priced if purchased on line. For me, the stevia does not mask the flavor of a good tea. Instead it brings the flavor out, but that’s just me. One more comment on Teavana. I like several of their teas even though I tend to purchase most of my tea online and unflavored. But like Darby, I thank Teavana for introducing me to loose tea. Yes, their employees can be a little pushy at times and they may not have the lowest prices (they do have to pay mall rents), but they are raising the level of consciousness on tea and bringing new people in, which is a good thing.