Hello from Springfield, Mo
New member here from Springfield, MO. Just starting my tea journey. Before a few days ago my idea was hot water drown a Lipton or red rose tea bag. A year ago add two cups of sugar to a gallon of previously mentioned tea.
A few months ago I was informed by the VA I am diabetic so I have dropped all soda and weaned off of sweet tea.
A couple of days ago I had TWO pots of Oolong?? Tea at a Chinese restaurant with no sugar and loved it. However for some reason the smell reminded me of burnt cigarettes. Now I want to learn about teas for diabetes and weight loss, proper ways to steep, maybe even go so far as to learn Japanese and Chinese tea ceremonies. I read that some teas are steeped many times before serving. Where can I learn proper tea prep? What equipment do I need? Must have? Be nice to have? We have a Teavana here in town but the prices seem high or is it because I am used to cheap tea bags? I have several boxes of Lipton and Bigalow green, spearmint, peppermint, chamomile, ginger, black tea, and Earl grey do I toss them and learn what “real tea” is?
First things first, welcome to Steepster Edward. There are several good resources for learning different brewing methods. When it comes to brewing tea in the Western fashion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with just steeping in a teacup, mug, or teapot. When I want to make a basic cup of tea, I have a set of 8 ounce teacups that I ordered from DAVIDsTEA and that’s what I use. Normally, 6-8 ounces are standard for teacups. Many vendors have brewing guides and will provide basic instructions on how to brew each tea or each type of tea they offer. The important thing to remember, however, is that there is no single “right” way of doing it. Play around with it and find out what works for you. The same goes for gongfu brewing. How you approach such a process will depend on your tastes, the type of tea you are brewing, the amount of tea you prefer to use, and the water temperature you prefer. There is not much standardization in the brewing process at all. Remember that it all really just comes down to what you prefer. And finding out what you prefer is an ongoing process of trial and error. For just basic Western-style brewing, you will need a teacup, a brew basket/infuser, loose leaf tea, and ideally something to cover the cup so that it retains heat. A small saucer or a coaster can work for that. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I have a set of cups, several durable nylon brew baskets, and a specialized ceramic coaster to cover the cup. For gongfu brewing, one would absolutely need a gaiwan (lidded cup), a strainer, and a cup set. A lot of people also use a small pitcher (cha hai), and while it is nice, I don’t always use one since I am perpetually brewing for one person-me. To get an idea of gongfu brewing methods, I always felt that Whispering Pines Tea Company and Yunnan Sourcing had some nice brewing guides/videos. I also perused Steepster reviews and got an idea of what other active users were doing. You can buy books on the subject if you are dead set on geeking out, but you do not have to do a ton of extremely time-consuming research to get started. Remember that you will eventually personalize the process to suit your tastes and situation, so how you start doing things will change over time. I would say avoid Teavana solely because the stores are closing and they are overpriced. You can get better stuff elsewhere. Also, don’t throw out teabags entirely. Bagged tea is still “real tea” (unless it’s herbal and then it’s actually a tisane and not tea) and worth drinking if solely for how convenient it is to brew. A final piece of advice would be don’t necessarily count on tea being the answer for diabetes and weight loss. Granted it probably won’t hurt as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but it’s not going to be a miracle fix regardless of what some may claim.
I’m sitting here with a glass of real Japanese green tea.
Most good Chinese restaurants serve tea with their meals or dim sum.
You’re going to need one or two good cup type tea filters and a bowl, a pyrex measuring cup and a digital scale, also a kettle.
Oh, did not consider a scale, I thought the tea measuring spoons were proper measurement. See learning already.
You do not require a scale for western or grandpa styles of brewing, a spoon is more than enough. A scale is an optional nice to have accessory for gongfu style brewing – it is helpful in case of beginners to get the tea to water ratios consistent and helpful for experts to not waste pricey teas.
You do require a scale for Japanese tea, as stated in the original post. They are not expensive $20 will get a good very small digital scale.
I just left Teavana with sticker shock, I was hoping for an electronic pot to heat water to a precise temperature but not for $250, most of the tea was 50%_75% off but I learned they are closing in a month or so, might not be wise for me to buy anything there. Still sitting in the mall trying to decide.
You can boil water in a saucepan on the stove for your teas – stop before it is boiled or wait a bit after it boiled for lower temperatures. An electric kettle offers additional convenience and can be bought for say $30-50 price range. A variable temparature electric kettle is helpful for green teas – other teas like white, most oolong, black, etc. can be had with just boiled water.
You can also get a food termometer for a couple of bucks to measure water temperature.
I have two of these (one for work, one at home). They’ve worked pretty well for me over the last year. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01G7OL9ZW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
If you absolutely want a variable temperature kettle you can definitely find one for under $100. I have a 1L and 1.7L variable temperature gooseneck bonavita, both of which I paid less than $80 for if I remember correctly. There are cheaper options out there than that, as well, and before I got a variable temp kettle and needed water at less than a boil, I simply heated water on the stove and used a thermometer to check the temperature. It all depends on what your needs are, and I would recommend working with what you have before getting too many new things that you may or may not end up needing.
As far as Teavana tea, I’m not a fan of their tea, personally, but that is just my preference. Regarding value, you can find tea of the same or better quality for less from other vendors, and there are lots of sources of affordable samples for you to taste different types of teas and see what might appeal to you most right now.
If you can find some low sugar snacks to eat with tea, that would be helpful, as well.
You’re going to need those, if you want to drink Japanese tea.
I use a $30 kettle and a stove timer. You don’t need that expensive junk.
Today I went to two coffee/Tea places in town and only ordered Ti Kuan Yin Oolong tea and one they steep for a specific time and removed the leaves, the other places the leaves in a mesh baggies put it in a paper cup of hat water and handed it to me, the first one tasted much better even though I removed the tea “bag” from the second it steeped too long and was a bit stronger than I liked but still palatable.
You might look into Queen City Tea Company. They are out of Battlefield, MO.
Good tea doesn’t have to be expensive. It may seem that way (and yes, Teavana is expensive) but remember that for each cup of tea you make you can probably use the leaves to make 2-3 more cups of that tea. So when looked at from a per cup cost, it isn’t bad at all. Usually. You can get into really high end stuff and spend a lot of money but you don’t have to.
There is a lot of information online about health and tea. In general, there are not specific teas that will make you lose weight and all teas are healthy as long as you aren’t dumping sugar in them. Healthy lifestyle changes that can include teas as an alternative to sodas and sugary drinks are what make you lose weight. Tea is not a magic bullet for any health issues, any claims to the contrary from tea companies notwithstanding. :) If tea helped cure diabetes, I’d be pouring it down my husband’s throat. :P
Hello Edward! I’m new too and am interested in your journey as I begin mine (my husband’s too but he’s not a discussion or forum person….). He was diagnosed borderline diabetic a few months ago and has picked up tea as a new habit to help with blood sugar regulation, I’ve picked it up after being diagnose with high blood pressure (plus both of us have always liked tea, now it’s becoming a fun exploration). I have purchased a number of new teas to try after my husband started liking Pu erh, we currently have three and are awaiting 4 more (Chang An Ripe Puerh 2010, Denong Red Label 2004, Denong Brick 2006, Red Sunset Twin Pack Ripe 2016), 2 black (Yunnan Old Tree Black and Shangri La Gold Black), and Oolong bricks (Da Hong Pao Oolong block). They’re going to be his birthday gifts. I can’t wait to try them too, but we still have plenty of what we already have in our cabinet……as for the teapots, look on discount sites….you might find some good ones there for a lower cost. We do have a Breville and though it was pricey I have to say it’s been worth it.
Not to derail this introduction thread, but it’s funny how timing plays out in these discussion boards. Cwyn just posted a new blog post about diabetes. If you aren’t familiar, she is one of the best tea bloggers out there, IMHO. http://deathbytea.blogspot.com/2017/09/diabeetus.html
Cwyn writes a good blog. In terms of brewing vessels this is an excellent one to start with. $20.00 and has its own box.
I use a $20.00 buck water boiler from Walmart to heat water with. Works well for me. Less money on teaware is more money for tea! Looking forward to you posts on here.
I get all giddy when I think of my $17 Walmart plastic kettle. Rest in peace kettle.
Mrmopar wars have been fought over a single tea instrument. Wars! They didn’t say… well I guess we won’t go to war and spend the money on tea instead!
@MrQuackers I hope not! Too much fighting in the world as it is. Peace and a good cuppa is a better choice.
Hi Edward. Prepare to be impressed, I love it when hear people trying tie Guan yin or other Chinese tea for the first time – hopefully you will enjoy it and get more, the range of tastes and qualities are huge, sometimes between even the same type of tea depending on many factors.
Hang around here, ask questions, follow people (then you see their reviews) and try as many small samples as you can. Try not too buy large amounts as you might not like it next year.
Oh, and get a small 100ml gaiwan and small cups. That’s a Chinese tea brewing vessel, and will improve your brewing skills quickly
Good stuff. Get some other oolongs as well – oolong is a vast range of oxidisation, so from green and fresh, like the tie guan yin you tried, all the way to dark da Hong pao like Nikko blue mentioned. It’s the best tea for range of flavours to get stuck into imho.
Also you must try some puerh. The dark shou and green sheng.