codakia said

New and aggressively learning the world of Tea.

What teapots and accoutrements are considered standard to begin with? I think I have become overzealous with my initial investment……but I can’t help it!!!!

14 Replies
Angrboda said

None specific, really. Find a pot that you like and use that. If you’re looking for beginner’s things as such, just go for something that looks nice and pours well.

If you haven’t got a kettle which can do different temperatures, that’s fine. Hey, if you’re brewing tea which takes boiling water you can even just use a saucepan on the hob. Lower temperatures can also be achieved by taking it off the heat before it comes to a full boil or letting it come to full boil and adding a splash of cold water. You can also get a thermometer to help you achieve the proper temperature. These needn’t be expensive either.

Brewing vessel, water heating and a cup. That’s really all you need.

Are you brewing loose leaf? If so you’ve got options, depending on what you think is easier for you. Some people have a large brewing basket which they insert in their pot and take out when steeping is finished. It’s important to get one which is roomy so that the leaves have room to expand. (Forget all about metal tea-eggs and similar contraptions. It’s like a leaf prison. The leaf can’t expand, and you don’t get an even contact with the water, because the water has difficulties getting to the leaf in the middle. These things ought to be outlawed)

Others prefer to just put the leaves directly into the pot and pour through a small strainer when serving. (I prefer this method) In this case you need a small strainer to pour through and a larger strainer to rinse leaves out in. That’s easier than to just rinse them directly out into the sink.

Finally some prefer to use filterbags. Bit like a traditional teabag but you fill it yourself. Easily brewed and easily disposed of, but some people think the filter paper adds flavour to the tea.

Later on you might decide to invest in yixing pots and gaiwans and what have you, but these things can be rather expensive at a good quality and as a beginner I shouldn’t think it was necessary. Truth be told, they’re not even strictly necessary as a longtime tea drinker either. I’ve got two yixing pieces and a gaiwan, all of which are display items on a shelf these days. There’s nothing wrong with it and I have used them. I just happen to prefer bone china. They look decorative on the shelf, though.

I hope this is helpful.

CelebriTEA said

Nice post

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I can certainly understand overzealousness when first getting into tea! I just started a little over a year ago, and my tea budget very quickly began to get out of hand… My list assumes that you want to brew loose-leaf, since (in my experience) it will give you more tea options. Like Angrboda outlined, you really can keep it simple to start. That will let you spend more on the tea and try more kinds!

1) Something to store the tea in. Air-tight, opaque, preferably not plastic. (Some people think storing it in plastic affects the tea’s flavor.) Personally, I love pretty tea tins, and started collecting them when I started learning about tea. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find teas that you like that come in an appropriate container when you buy them.

2) Something to measure loose tea with. (Like a measuring spoon, usually a teaspoon.)

3) A source of hot water. At home, I use a kettle on the stove. At work, honestly I just use the hot-water dispenser in the break room, even though it’s often a little too cool. (Too cool is better than too hot! Too hot will make the tea bitter. Too cool may just make the flavor more subtle.)

4) A thermometer. Nothing fancy, but if you like teas that need a certain temperature, then it’s very valuable. Any kind of cooking thermometer will do, really. This is especially important if you’re boiling water to brew a tea that needs a cooler temperature. (See above.)

5) Something to brew the loose-leaf in. A filter basket in a cup is probably the easiest way to start, but there are other options, as Angrboda pointed out. As long as it gives the tea room to expand and lets you filter the leaves out of your drink, you’re good.

6) A timer. The steep time can be really important if you want the tea to taste good. I find using an actual timer is better for me than just watching the clock because I tend to get distracted. This can be as simple as a kitchen timer or the timer on your phone. (There are some nice free tea apps you can use for this, too.)

7) A cup. I know it seems silly to list it, but having a special cup for your tea can really enrich the experience! It doesn’t really matter what kind you use as long as it’s heat resistant and makes you happy. When I’m at home, I always have my nice teas in a special cup that my mother gave me. I swear, the happy associations make the tea taste better. :)

When I started out, I wanted special pieces to use just for my tea, so I bought a nice round (measuring) teaspoon, a filter basket, a meat thermometer (It’s pretty and blue, I swear), and some overpriced but attractive tins. I got a free app to use on my phone as a timer. That’s it. I already had a cup and a kettle, and that got me through a year of trying every kind of tea I could get my hands on. Later, I was gifted a Teavana Perfect Tea Maker, which is awesome and replaced my filter basket when brewing at home.

I really think that’s all that’s standard when you’re first starting out. A lot of the accoutrements that you pick up and use regularly later will depend on your own style and the types of teas that you love. (For instance, if you realize that you really love English teas, then yixing pots and gaiwans may not be for you, and instead you may decide to invest in a lovely traditional British tea set.) It takes a lot of experimentation to figure out what kind of teas that you like, so I would focus on that first. Pay attention to time and temperature and try as many kinds of tea as you can. Your preferences will make themselves known, and you can decide on fancy accoutrements based on that.

CelebriTEA said

“Pay attention to time and temperature and try as many teas as you can”
Best advice ever :-)

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codakia said

Thank you so much….very helpful information..

So far, I have procured the following items and have really enjoyed using them:

Melitta Kettle
Teavana Tetsubin Pot w/ warmer
Numerous Asian Porcelain Pots
The Brown Betty Teapot
Teavana Matcha Set
A Tea Wallet
Various strainers, infusers, spoons, tongs, trays, cups, etc.
Various types of teas from different tea families that I have bought in stores and ordered online.

Wow, I estimate that I have already spent nearly $500 on Tea products this year. While I do feel that this is somewhat excessive, I don’t feel too guilty about it because Tea has really become a passion for me.

As a “Notable Alcoholic,” ( I say notable, because I hate the word, recovering! ) I have really struggled for the past two years to find a drink that is not laden with calories. I have definitely perused the “coffee route,” but now that I have discovered the delicacies, benefits, and traditions of Tea, I am intensely inclined to learn and try everything Tea related. Maybe this is my addictive personality at work again..haha.

I was thrilled to find Steepster online last night to learn even more from others about “The Art of Tea.”

One thing I have determined about Tea so far is that Rooibos Tea really makes me feel bad physically with an upset stomach and lethargy. I’m gonna steer clear of that one.

Again, thx for the replies with such useful information. I am looking forward to continuing the journey!

CelebriTEA said

Ahhhh…you will LOVE the tetsubin and the tea wallet…among other things
welcome to Steepster…you will meet a lot of nice, new friends &
No problem with becoming addicted to tea…it’s good for you ;-)

Sounds like you are already all set! Isn’t it great how tea can become a passion so quickly?

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carol who said

Welcome to the club! I think all of us on Steepster have the same problem: spending too much money on tea ware and tea! But we all love it. Don’t forget to add your profile and some tasting notes to your page. Perhaps some of us can help you find some teas you might like but don’t cost too much. ;-) For example Teavana can be pricier than some other places unless there is a good sale going on. Some places even do samples which you might find on the Discussion page.

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Lynxiebrat said

A tea ball isn’t all bad grins for teas that have small bits to them they are usable. Though otherwise I do agree.

Wow Codakia, thats alot of stuff. No judgement here however, the majority of us are addicted to the ‘Cup of Brown Joy’ (Professor Elemental’s song…look him up, he’s hilarious.)

Have you just tried Red Rooibos? If so, do try the green, (though it is harder to find.) You may find it easier to stomach.

Saving alittle bit on tea:

1.)Tea swaps, Giveaways,Tea stash sales. Fairly frequently someone will offer to send various people a box of tea, sometimes for a price. Or there would be a tea swap circle (Kind of like a round robin for a craft project.) maybe based on a particular continent.

2.)There are companies who offer free samples, many times if in return you give a review on this site or a blog, some do have requirements though. Also, there are alot of companies that sell samples at decent prices. Usually between $2-6 (Sorry, assuming that your American…did not think to look at your profile.)

3.) At the top of the page is the tab:Places. Type in zip code or your country’s equivalent and you might come up with a list of places that sell tea in that area. How does that save $? Some tea shops often have promotionals of a particular tea or sales. With shops that sell loose leaf, they might have the option of buying like 1 ounce (Instead of the 2 ounces that Teavana requires, one of the few things I don’t like.) And depending on how close the shop is, might save on gas!

4.)Don’t forget about the tea aisle at your local Grocery store, Fruit Market, Ethnic Market, etc. Alot of places have expanded past Bigelow’s and Liptons. (Nothing wrong with drinking either of those or any other bag brand. I still do on occasion.) These days many stores have saver cards so that is a way to save.

So, the 4 options above are a terrific way to try new teas without breaking the bank.

One last thing: You’ll notice that alot of people who don’t like Teavana for various reasons, but there are plenty of people who do like them, like me:) However, I’ve never seen anyone ‘attack’ another person for liking Teavana or any other tea. There is some tea snobbery going on, but to a certain extent its taken in good fun.

CelebriTEA said

Tea snobbery?

Lynxiebrat said

I’m sorry if that offends you, I couldn’t think of another term for those who think that teas that are outside of the types of tea they prefer is inferior.

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carol who said

I hope you don’t think I don’t don’t like Teavana. I do and it is one of the only places near me. They have some wonderful teas. I just try to wait for a sail. They still have a few teas at 75% off right now. Mostly their current sale seems to be tea ware. The price for their ice tea pitchers is great.

Lynxiebrat said

I wasn’t thinking it, Carol:) Since the OP mentioned it above I thought I should bring it up. I have to admit when I 1st saw how down on Teavana some people were, I was pretty dismayed, because overall I’ve had pleasant experiences at Teavana.

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codakia said

I had been starting to put various types of tea bags in my Keurig, (I never liked the tea pods, bitter), when I really felt like something wasn’t right with making tea this way. The ahhhaaa moment.

I started studying and researching online and just got pulled in further and further. Then I remembered my past history with tea, as a child, a teenager, and young adult. I found all my English Tea China and accessories I had collected during the 80’s and began to use them and remember the traditions and etiquette of taking English Tea. Which let me into China, and so on.

This is where I am now, walking through Chinese and Japanese teas, traditions, and tea-wares. I am really savoring the time and patience it takes to brew a fabulous cup of tea. The methods are somewhat precise and the calmness required to complete them, bring a sense of peace over me. I just thoroughly enjoy it.

I must say, however, that trying to find a good cup of hot tea in even a nice restaurant in my area, (DFW), has proved to be more than frustrating, {numerous knit-picking criticisms}. Am I expecting too much for American public tea taking or is my tea experience just always going to be better at home with all my beautiful teaware, teas, and surroundings?

P.S: i think i just answered my own question, but damn, it’s still irritating. Oh dear, have I already become a Tea Snob?

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