Tea Beginner - A Little Lost
Hello everybody. I just signed up so I can find new teas I enjoy. I am incredibly new to tea and don’t have anything supply-wise to start.
What are the necessary things I should pick up? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
We’ll, I’m not the most seasoned member by any means. But what is your environment? Are you in a dorm? Apartment? Do you have a specific budget? How fancy do want to get in the way of tea? There is a lot of variables. Tell us a bit about your situation and I think we can help you more:) and by the way…welcome!
I’ll start, though I’m sure others will jump in as well.
I’d suggest starting with just a few things and working up to more complicated tea gadgetry.
If you’re interested in loose leaf tea, I’d start with:
(1) a filtered water source or spring water to make sure you get the best flavor out of your tea (I use a Brita pitcher or bottled spring water);
(2) a tea kettle — you don’t need anything fancy to start with, just something to boil the (filtered or spring, see no. 1) water in on your stove;
(3) a nice tea cup — I use clear, uncolored glass tea cups so I can see the tea’s color better;
(4) a filter to put the tea leaves in to steep in your cup (Finum makes a nice, inexpensive version that many of us here use); and
(5) a teaspoon (measuring spoon, not the kind you use to eat with) to use to measure your tea.
Optional no. 6 — if you want to steep for more than yourself or more than a single cup at a time, you could get a small, simple tea pot with a built in strainer to put your tea leaves and water in to steep.
That’s really all you need to get started, but if you want to get a little more advanced you can add:
(1) a small scale that weighs in grams to measure your tea, which is more precise than using a teaspoon, and
(2) a tea thermometer (especially useful if you are interested in green teas or really any teas other than black tea or herbal blends, because you don’t use boiling water for greens, oolongs, or whites).
This is about what I started with when I got serious about tea, though I soon bought a water boiler that I could set to various temperatures because it was easier than using a thermometer, and added other things as my interests branched out.
1 mug and 1 Finum type basket. In place of the brewing basket you could use a tea ball – but don’t. As long as you have a way to boil water you are good to go.
agreed. at its simplest, all you need is a simple and versatile way to remove tea leaves when steeping time’s up (and depending on your mug/cup dimensions the finum or forlife steeping baskers with lids that double as holders once the basket’s removed from the cup are probably a safe bet—they’re my favorites), the cup you steep in and drink your tea from, and appropriately hot water. especially if you mostly like black tea, flavored or plain and generally western/british-style (as opposed to east asian methods where you resteep the same leaves over and over)—any kettle/decent way to boil water will do until you figure out exactly which method and teas you like best. later if you find you like more delicate stuff like green, white, or oolong tea you can fuss with different water temperatures and all that. but in the beginning, if you just like a cuppa black tea, i’d say a good fits-in-any-mug-you-plan-to-use steeping basket with lid/caddy and a way to boil water are really the only essentials (and not even that technically, but i digress). you can eyeball with a basic teaspoon until you get tea to taste the way you want per cup you’re using. you can use a watch or phone or clock etc. for timing steeps. that’s it really, at the most basic level.
Buy a hot water tea kettle like:
(You have to cut and paste, sorry.)
Don’t buy the old fashioned ones you put on the stove. These last longer, and are easier to use. I will friend you. I got into tea 2 years ago, also when I found this website!
I am fairly new myself. What I found most helpful—
A tea cup with basket infuser http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00178RRJG
An electric kettle-I still have an inexpensive one without temperature control
Tea—the best advice I got here was try a lot of different teas, but order in small quantities. A try me package (like 2 oz is a lot of tea to power through if you don’t like something).
Also good advice I got when I was newbie with wine—you like what you like. Whether it is supposed to be “good” or not. Drink what you like, but don’t forget to come back later and retry things as your palette changes.
Kettle or hot pot to boil your water. Vessel to brew tea in – if I were only allowed one, I’d pick a classic teapot. Method of removing tea leaves from brewed tea – I generally use two teapots, brew in one and pour the tea into another to serve from. Or a filter paper for a single serving of tea brewed directly in my mug. Thingie for measuring dry tea – my thingie of choice is a scale. Something to drink tea out of – I have a ton of different cups and mugs, but if I could only have one, I’d want something shallow and white, so I could see the liquor clearly.
That’s it, for my tea.
Start with basic accessories (kettle, brewing basket) spend your money on good teas :D You may want to upgrade after a while but start basic. If you don’t have a thermometer handy, you can tell the water temperature by watching the bubbles. Small bubbles will float to the surface of the water 160-170F, and you’ll see strings of bubbles from the bottom of the kettle at 180-190F. After that, you’ll have a full rolling boil going to 212F. Almost all good teas tell you what temperature you should use as well as the steeping time.
Good tea will really make a difference. If you can, try to go to a tea shop and see if they will give you a few samples. Tell them you’re new to tea. They often are quite generous in the number of samples allowed because they want you to patronize their shop in the future.
After you have tried a few and see what you tend to like, use the tasting notes on Steepster. I wouldn’t really buy any tea now without looking at what others say. Remember everyone has different taste preferences. Some people will love it, others hate it. I like lots of teas, but I like a sweetener (Stevia, for me) in most of my teas. You just have try them :D Have fun.
I started with tea a few years ago, and here are some things that were helpful to me. First, do you have a kind of tea you already like (such as black, green etc) When I first started I only liked black tea, but ended up trying lots of white and green and not liking them. If you don’t know what you like, try a sampler with some different kinds, and see if one stands out.
Flavored vs. not flavored is another question I faced. Lots of people here only like “straight” tea, but many others enjoy flavored (and many like both). If you’re not sure, try a few flavored and some pure tea and see if you have a favorite.
AS others mentioned, try samples or small sizes first and decide what you like before buying larger sizes. Once you have some idea of what you like, people here will have lots of suggestions.
Keep the equipment simple until you get more involved. A mug with a finium basket is a great start.
Pay attention to steeping instructions and water temperatures. I originally used the same boiling water for all kinds of tea without realizing green tea should be at a lower temperature.
Good luck! This can all seem overwhelming at first, but the trick is just to find something you like and then explore little by little.
I’d say the three things you REALLY need to have are: a kettle, a good tea infuser spoon (you can get those for less than $5 at the grocers), and a cup with a decent enough size. Tea is brilliant – not only in taste – and I’m sure you’ll find lots of pleasure in getting into it. Good luck!
I guess it depends on what you are looking to drink. When I started, I didn’t even have a kettle. I boiled the water in a pot on the stove. If you’re drinking something that can handle boiling or near boiling water, then there isn’t a bit rush to even get a kettle until you know that it is something you will be using regularly. It can be better to dip your toes in and under-buy on equipment until you are sure you will use it. I say this as someone who learned the hard way.
One big thing I didn’t see mentioned was to try sample sizes as often as you can. For the first year of my tea drinking, I bought everything untried in 100 gram increments. Needless to say, I didn’t like all of them. It’s great to try a bit of everything, but listen to your instincts as well. If you just don’t like a certain flavour or kind of tea (green for me) then don’t keep buying it! I’ve wasted more tea than I would like, hoping I would come around on something I already had too much of.
Anyway, tea isn’t as complicated as it sounds. If you’ve got nothing, put some water in a pot on the stove, some leaves in a mug. Add water, once steeped to your taste, pour through a strainer into another mug for drinking. You haven’t bought a thing but you still got a cup of tea. :) (I have to use this method at my Mum’s when I visit). As you bumble along, you will notice what tools become crucial to you. I would suggest if you get an electric kettle though to get one with temp control, rather than having to replace it after a few months like I did. My electric kettle with 5 degree increments cost $30. It is electrohome, I think, and has been rocking my tea world for two years.