sygyzy said

Tea becoming "seperated" or not homogenous

I’ve been drinking tea a number of years. I normally brew a cup in the morning at work and maybe one or two more in the afternoon. I drink tea exclusively from Upton and have always been satisfied. I am pretty exact in my brewing (using a digital timer, digital gram scale with 0.01 accuracy, and a Breville Variable temperature kettle. I have not changed any of my processes or equipment (including same tea cup and stainless steel basket). However, starting about 2 months ago, I noticed my tea looking and tasting funny.

The first thing that is obvious is this separation of the tea. Depending on the type of tea, it looks like it’s a mixture of two liquids. Sometimes it looks like there’s something on top, like the way an oil spill looks in the ocean. Also, before this all started, I could brew a cup, go to lunch, and come back and drink it and the team would taste and look just fine. Now even after a few minutes it looks weird and if I leave it overnight, the next day it looks worse. Also, the teas seem to be tasting bitter and off-putting.

One culprit I considered is “old” tea. I know tea is supposed to be only good for 6 months but let’s be honest, older tea should still not act like this. I buy so much tea at a time that it takes me at least 6 months to finish them. My current batch was packed on 6/14/10.

I also considered that maybe my cup was not clean but that’s not it either because I wash it in hot water and scrub it with a brush and pad, then dry it immediately.

Has anyone else seen this issue? It’s most prominent in black teas (Assam, Darjeeling, etc) but also green teas.


7 Replies

Has there been any change in your water system? Do you use filtered water? You could be seeing the results of impurities in the water. It could be build up on your infuser (dunno how often/thoroughly you clean it). It could be something in the cup – give it a REALLY good clean to ensure there are no oils that are sticking to it – same with the infuser.

As for old tea – I am not sure about that – I have not noted anything like that before – but do keep in mind, that it may have been packaged on 6/14/10 by Upton – but when was it harvested? How long was it un-packaged before it was sent to you?

Given that you are seeing it across a range of teas – my gut is that it is specific to your setup – water/infuser/cup that you are seeing this “separation” – not specific to the tea. :)

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Cofftea said

Why do you buy so much tea that it takes you that long? How are you storing it til you finish it? I’m just as exact w/ my steeping parameters… but I can’t imagine limiting myself to one tea company. Maybe try a tea from somewhere else (same type, similar age) and compare.

sygyzy said

I am not sure what the issue is here. I am buying lots of tea because I want to drink a different tea each time. I don’t want to be limited to just one pound of Earl Gray, or whatever, two times a day. I am limiting myself to one tea company, as you say, but Upton probably has 300 teas available.

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VegTea said

Sounds like it is just oversteeped — steeping too long, or at too high of a temperature. Maybe it is something more complicated, but I would just try steeping a little less long and see if that fixes it. It does seem a bit unlikely given that you are being very precise about everything, but it would be an easy fix. Or, maybe you’ve already tried that?

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I’ve experienced the ‘Oil on Water’ with a couple of flavoured blacks myself, but this reads more like your kettle (or pot) just needs a good clean .. Not all build up is visible to the naked eye, but a soak with vinegar/water and good scrub & rinse should see you right ;)

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sygyzy said

It turns out it was my water source. Even different types of filtered water, depending what mechanism it uses, can result in the murky tea. Just switch water and all is well.

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Definitely the water. My father-in-law’s house has terrible water, even with a whole house filter, so we often bring bottled water. If you ever get water straight out of the tap, you end up with a nasty, sludgy film on the top of your tea water.

Glad you figured it out yourself! For those who still have this problem, best of luck. I definitely recommend faucet filters or pitcher-style filter, or bottled water, to get the most out of your tea.

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