My world has been changed forever.
I understand completely! In the past few years I've been buying my tea from Upton Tea Imports and I highly recommend them - good selection, good value, good service, and they offer 15 g samples of their teas so you can try a small amount before you commit to more.
Here is a link that might be useful: Upton Tea
Thank you, Teresa. I will keep that in mind. I received a gift pack so this is my first time trying the tea. I can't believe the difference in the taste. It is like night and day. I would recommend to everyone using the little bags to give this a try.
...and to go along with loose leaf tea you will now have to start your tea infuser collection. :-) -Grainlady
Here is a link that might be useful: Tea Infusers
Yep, I have a few infusers, but what I really like to use is my 3 cup Brown Betty teapot and her sister the plain white 3 cup pot. I think the tea unfurls and infuses better when it has room to spread in a teapot or large mug.
Then you will have to start a teapot collection, a cup/saucer collection, individual butter spreader collection, silver sugar tongs, silver lemon fork, etc. etc. - you can see where this all leads......... it's a slippery slope......
I have developed a health problem where I can no longer drink tea. I was a life long tea drinker (started as a toddler with afternoon tea with milk and sugar with grandma). As a special treat on the weekends I would make loose leaf tea. Loved it. I am heartbroken. I have to eschew acid foods and caffeine, which includes all soda pop, especially diet soda, chocolate and alcohol, but it is tea that I miss the most. I have interstitial cystitis, so if I drink one cup, even decaf, I will have a flare up.
Enjoy your tea. Nothing like it and nothing quite so civilized in the world as tea. Tea, tea, tea!!
How far are you from Minneapolis? I know you are in the Great Lake region. There is a company here that does an annual tasting over 100 teas that are blended by the owner. I met her 20 years ago at the Farmer's Market and she still sells her tea there although it's in many retail outlets also. The company name is Mrs. Kelly's Tea. Her name is Mindy and her husband is Brian.
The tasting this year is December 1 & 2. The location is at the old Grainbelt Brewery building just off Broadway at Marshall in northeast Minneapolis. The suggested donation is $2 or a non-perishable food donation that will benefit Second Harvest Foodshelf.
Mindy makes a special holiday blend that includes orange peel, cranberries and vanilla.
If you know anyone in the Minneapolis area this is an event worth travelling for.
Disclaimer: I do not work for Mrs. Kelly nor do I benefit in any way by informing people of her event.
Here is a link that might be useful: Mrs. Kelly's Annual Tea Tasting & Charity Event
Have you looked into tea pot sets?
I have been thinking about getting a tea set for SWMBO. The enameled iron Japanese teapot and small enameled iron teacups. Something decorative and contemplative. The hope is that this would be a boomerang present (the kind you give in hopes of using it yourself).
I've been drinking loose teas all my life, but in a utilitarian way. I have a few favorites - dragonwell, pearl jasmine and gunpowder. But I've never become serious about it. I make my tea in a French press and gulp it by the pint.
Meanwhile, SWMBO's tastes in teas runs to bags of pumpkin rooibos tea. Ugh. The only use I've found for that stuff is to cook with it. Think pork, apples, apple juice, sugar, ginger, and pumpkin rooibos tea as accent. Actually makes a yummy sweet-savory filling for meat pies.
I am in NWPA. Sorry, I updated my profile. I am not a big social media person so all of that is new to me. I only started texting a couple months ago.
I received a jasmine blend. All I can say is wow. I will take a look at that website. Thank you.
I second the recommendation for Upton Tea.
So funny that you posted this today. I was in center city for lunch yesterday and saw a great tea shop called Steap. I personally am a coffee lover but I have occasionally enjoyed a good cup of tea. I have never been able to duplicate that tea at home, despite a cupboard full of Celestial Seasonings, Twinings, etc. So, I bought two sample bags of tea at Steap. One is organic black with coconut and the other is french breakfast. The salesperson was very helpful and let me sniff a lot of them. I haven't made them yet but if they taste as good as they smell -- wowza. In fact, I caould be happy just keeping the bags to sniff once in awhile.
I have one of those tea balls, although she recommended something that looked like a little strainer. I had a cute teapot and teacup set but I could not stand the person who gave it to me, so I got rid of it. I would not enjoy my tea if I thought of her every time I had a cup.
I'll let you know how I like them after I try them later. The store had such cute tea sets, I can see how you would easily get hooked on buying them.
I save the used tea leaves, dry them up and use them to smoke food.
Oh, no! Grainlady, you just had to direct us to the tea infuser page, didn't you? And I just had to fall in love with a couple. Seriously, I have a Noritake set (gold over red in a western shape) tea set from when I lived in Japan that I have never used and I think its about time to get it out. I also have a dark brown teapot from Japan decorated in a couple of colors and gold that was my mother's and I've never used it. I have two utilitarian tea balls and a couple of bags of loose leaf tea from a store I think is called Teavanna. Time to do some brewing.
Loose leaf tea has a completely different taste than bagged tea. My favorite is a malty Assam, because I like my tea strong with milk. I also favor the classic Orange Pekoe, which I am not sure why they they call orange since it has no orange color or taste. I have a tea ball and one of those spring loaded tsp.-like things but the thing that makes the best cup of tea for me is the strainer that you put in a mug, pour the water into it, steep and then remove the strainer from the mug. I can do tea in a pot too, but lazy me hates to clean teapots. They make those strainers in ceramic which theoretically would be the best but the stainless works for me. If only I could drink tea again! I get the Upton Teas catalog but never ventured into many of the brands, because I couldn't afford them and then I got sick. Would be a great Christmas gift for a tea lover, they have lots of great teas and tea toys!
A friend used to get some expensive green tea varieties from Upton for special events and on several occasions I was lucky enough to partake. I never ordered the fancier varieties myself but I've enjoyed whatever I got from them.
I have a couple of small cast iron tea pots but covet my mom's insulated french press. Current favorite is Dragonwell with a bit of fresh verveine which is sulking in a pot on my windowsill.
It's wonderful, isn't it. What a startling difference.
I use these reusable tea bags. I have a tea measuring spoon to fill it in the morning for my tea. My kids are always picking up interesting loose teas for me when they travel. I can get a good number of re-uses out of one bag. I let it dry, shake out the old tea and refill. I especially like using them at work.
Here is a link that might be useful: Reusable tea bags
I am sitting here sipping the black with coconut. The house smells of macaroons and I am craving one. The aroma is heaven ly but I wish the taste was a bit stronger. Next time I will let it steep a minute longer. I followed the directions to a t(ea). Boiling water, 1 tsp of tea, steep for 4 - 5 minutes. I let it go for 4.5 minutes, splitting the difference.
Now I am anxious to try the different methods. Maybe I shouldn't have given away the "bad karma" tea pot so fast.
Simpson & Vail is another wonderful tea company.
Last year, I discovered loose Green Tea. It's another world, the flavors are amazing. I'll have to look into the black teas mentioned here as well.
Here is a link that might be useful: Dens Tea
I have used Upton Teas forever. Love their teapots. Love the occasional free samples and the lovely variety.
Do subscribe to their tea catalog. It is great reading.
I highly recommend them.
And, oh, my. Thank you Dcarach for the idea of using the tea leaves to smoke food. Hmmm. Can I use coffee grounds? Seriously.
Coffee grounds are the only way I ever kept an indoor Gardenia happy.
I enjoy both coffee and tea, and I have the infuser I've linked to below. It sits on top of my mug and doesn't leave any of the "floaties" that a couple of my tea balls do.
Right now I am drinking some Irish Breakfast tea, it's not just for breakfast. My coffee this morning was Paramount Breakfast Blend. Hmmmm. I sense a pattern. (grin)
I found one of my favorite teas in the bulk section of a Mediterranean market, simply marked "Ceylon". It was very inexpensive, less than $2 a pound and makes the best iced tea I've ever had, so be adventurous and look around.
Here is a link that might be useful: Swiss Gold Mug Infuser
I can't get so excited about whether or not my tea is loose or bagged. It's the quality of the tea and the flavour that matters and I think that there is some great tea in bags too. I like Yunnan for breakfast and darjeeling for the rest of the day.
We buy our coffee at Peet's, and they also have a nice selection of fine quality loose-leaf teas.
Here is a link that might be useful: Peet's Teas
Even Lipton's is a different product in the loose-leaf box. Many years ago Consumer Reports gave it a very high rating while listing the tea bagged product in the also ran section. And if you go into a Peets just for some tea, be sure to get in the coffee line and see what real coffee tastes like.
I only buy loose tea also A nice bold english breakfast is my favorite. The "Albert Square" blend frm the Tea Source is what I drink everyday!
Here is a link that might be useful: The Tea Source
I love the Lipton loose leaf. Yes, totally different product from the bagged. My great grandma swore by it, she said it was as good as the stuff she got from "the old country" which in her case was Holland.
Silly question maybe -- is it something about the tea bag itself that is the problem (imparts a taste, maybe?) or is it that loose tea uses different kinds of tea leaves than they put in bags? Would you get similar results if you emptied the leaves out of a tea bag and brewed them loose? I have a few tea infusers, but I have to admit it's easier for me just to use bags and not have to clean out wet leaves.
I probably don't belong in this thread -- I like my tea iced, sweet, and strong and I am content to use decaf "family size" iced tea bags for that. I usually only drink it hot when I am sick, and then I still prefer plain black tea, or rooibos if I don't want caffeine. But I am really enjoying reading all your tea posts; they make me want to go try some different ones. (But still black, I think... I have never been able to get excited about any of the green teas I've tried; oolong was a little better but still too green for my taste.)
northcarolina - no, tea in tea bags is not the same as loose leaf. Tea bags have ground tea to allow it to brew quickly. There are jokes in the industry that bags have "sweepings", i.e. stuff that is swept up after loose tea leaves have been packed.
I convinced a friend to switch to loose leaf when we bought Twinings Jasmine in bags and compared it to Twinings Jasmine leaves steeped in a pot. There was no comparison.
I'm a purist, so I always steep tea in a ceramic pot and drink it from a ceramic cup or mug. No metal or plastic comes into contact with the tea. To my taste, the flavor is changed for the worse.
I've been customer of Upton teas for years, back when they were in Upton - they're in Hopkinton now. My current tea stash has jasmine dragon phoenix pearl, Earl Grey, gunpowder green, Yunnan silvertip, lapsang souchong, pai mu tan, moonlight white, Yunnan dao ming, and Yunnan golden monkey. I LOVE tea!
How to make the perfect cup of tea
The Orwell Prize / a Nice cup of tea
I like drinking tea, but never found one that I really liked until I read the first link.
When I was a child, my grandmother would make a concoction she called Cambric Tea - water, sugar, milk - it was awful and put me off milk in my tea.
I made tea following those instructions, and added my milk and let it sit, and I was absolutely gobsmacked, as they say, at how different tea tastes with milk. It's wonderful.
I use either Red Rose Earl Grey teabags, or loose tea, usually also Earl Grey. I've introduced co-workers, who drank the usual dreck in a teabag, to Earl Grey tea, and was pleased at how really surprised they were to find out how good tea can taste.
I love my black tea! And, yes, loose tea is totally different from what I grew up with in tea bags. We drank it iced, unsweet. Or hot, unsweet, no milk. I have not had Upton's tea, but I have had Charleston Tea, from Charleston, SC. They are the only US tea plantation. You are making me want a cup! And I am also off caffine. Due to hormones. I can drink it, but I will pay with swelling and pain. I may have to pay.
Does anyone know of an herbal tea that tastes like the real thing? I don't like any flavored tea at all. Not even green tea. I especally like hot tea when I get cold. Of course, since I live in northern Ohio, I am cold!
I just wanted to bring this topic back to say that thanks to this thread I have been trying some loose leaf tea (Twinings English Breakfast; that and Earl Grey were the only loose ones at the grocery store). I am not sure I have the palate to tell the difference between loose and bagged of the same variety and brand -- I'd have to also get some bags and do a taste test -- but I am enjoying it so far. It is definitely a noticeable tea, ha, kept me awake in the late evening so I am reserving it for mornings now (gee, you think that's why they call it Breakfast? I don't remember bagged English Breakfast having that effect on me though.). I find it a little bitter for my taste, so I tried a little bit of milk as per the article linked a couple of posts up, and that does make a big difference. I haven't put milk in my tea since college but it does help this strong black tea.
I also see (now that I am re-reading the article) that they recommend a 2-min brew. I've been doing 3 min, since I like it strong and my other teas would get a bitter taste after 3 min; but I'll see what a 2-min brew does next time.
I am not doing the warm-the-teapot thing like George Orwell says. I suppose I am a heretic. But then I add sugar too. :)
tami_ohio, I like Charleston Tea too, when I can find it. I don't know of an herbal tea that tastes like black, but like you I don't much care for green tea, and I do like rooibos. It's from a different plant and it tastes completely different than black tea, but it might be a caffeine-free alternative for you if you can't have (or don't like) decaf black. One reason I like it is that if I forget about it and it steeps for too long, it keeps its mellow flavor and doesn't get bitter; but it still tastes like something (as opposed to most herbal teas which just taste like barely-flavored water to me).
This morning I'm having Upton's English Breakfast Assam and Ceylon blend with my breakfast. A few weeks ago I ordered about 8 sample packs from Upton's and I've been "sampling" them since they arrived. When I open a pack, I take a big sniff to get a hit of the tea aroma. I'm finding the Ceylon smells sweet to me - but there is no sweetener in the tea, just 100% Ceylon tea. The taste of Ceylon is not sweet but it is becoming a favorite. I ordered a blend with some lapsang souchong and can definitely smell that smoky tea in the mix.
As blended teas go, the Upton's Scottish Breakfast is my favorite. I never tire of it and always enjoy it - I'm just whittling down my tea supply and won't throw out any of the others on hand.
Next on my tea journey I want to try making blends of my own one mug at a time. Tea tastes are so personal so take the time to find something that tastes marvelous to you.
It wasn't Swetouchne, was it? (Sorry, cannot recall spelling, but my Grandma made this when I was very, very young. One of those distant memories.)
I just received my order today and I have a very beginner question:)
How do you heat the water?
I use an electric kettle. The best way is to pour boiling water over the tea (leaves, infuser, or bag). Then let it steep for at least two minutes, but I like to steep for about 5 minutes for black tea, and longer for lighter teas - white, green, herb. After it steeps I add milk, but only to black tea, and maybe sugar to other teas.
Good water is important too. We don't drink our well water, so our tea, made with Poland Spring water is always good.
Water for Tea
At work I can't boil water, I have to use the hot water from the water "cooler", and it's pretty hot, but the tea doesn't taste as good as tea made with good boiling water.
Have fun experimenting and enjoy.
Northcarolina, thanks for thinking of me. Where can I find the rooibus to try it, please?
I am not supposed to have caffine in any amount, not even chocolate for health reasons. I had to do with out all caffine for 3 months. It worked. I am back to having some, but I know it if I have too much. But I love tea when I get cold! It's the only thing that warms me up.
Oh, and Charleston Tea does do mail order!
Glad to see the tea lovers are still enjoying a good cup!
Tami - Upton tea sells about 20 varieties of rooibos. See link below. They offer sample packs for some smallish amount so you can try several different varieties.
Hope this helps,
Here is a link that might be useful: rooibos at Upton tea
I just finished checking out a new Mediterranean grocery store and almost took a photo of their tea/coffee aisle for this thread. There was a plethora of choices available. I restrained myself for fear my DH will strangle me if I buy more teas until we work through some of what's on hand already!
We buy loose leaf English Breakfast and Earl Grey and mix equal quantities in the tea caddy or container. It cuts back the bergamot flavour of the Earl Grey somewhat and makes a nice blend. I agree with you all that loose leaf is way ahead of bags, in the same way that freshly ground coffee beats the pants off 'instant'. Just a little more work I guess.
Ruimi, that blend sounds like something I should try! Thanks!
To all, when you order from Upton Teas, you can rate and comment on the teas you have sampled under Your Account. It helps to keep them straight and decide what to order in the future. I'm enjoying Ceylon OP = orange pekoe = leaf size, no orange flavor, from the Kandy District. Ceylon tea is one of my favorites!
I just got my latest Upton shipment on Friday. Good-sized bags of Russian Caravan and a really nice Darjeeling, with some Assam samples.
For Earl Grey, we still prefer Twinings loose tea. The bergamot isn't too aggressive, which I guess is what Ruimi is after by blending Earl Grey with English Breakfast.
Late to the party.
My brother introduced me to some excellent loose leaf green and black teas - mostly from Japan.
He gave me specific steeping instructions for the teas - most of the green teas were to be steeped at 180 to prevent bitterness.
He gave me a number of Adagio teas to try.
I have been enjoying the many varieties. So much smoother than cut teas in bags.
Also - if you are serious about tea - check out this forum.
Full disclosure - I am not a member but my DB is one of the moderators.
CC, what Darjeeling did you order this time? I need to venture into Darjeeling with a sample or two on my next order.
Teresa, it's TD 50, No.1 Tippy Orthodox GFOP Darjeeling.
I usually didn't order Darjeeling, but one time I got a lot of samples of all kinds of black tea, and this was the standout.
If you are in reach of Peet's Coffee stores (California +?) their Earl Grey is delightful. Although its a bagged tea, I don't think it's cut like a typical bag. They brew it hot, but the flavor is so smooth, almost velvety. At least it was on the last cup I drank. I"ll be heading back soon to pick up more coffee and I'll try another cup of EG and see if its the same experience. No bitterness, even after sitting cold for hours. That was the most remarkable part of my experience!
Placed an order with Upton Tea this morning, more of my favorite Scottish Breakfast Blend, trying a new to me blend, Leadenhall Street Breakfast blend, and a sample pack of the Darjeeling recommended by Cloudy Christine. I never knew I could get so excited about tea!
Here is a pic of my favorite little teapot, a Swan aluminum pot:
I know you're not supposed to brew tea in a metal pot - but I can't taste any difference at all between this cute pot and my earthenware Brown Betty pot. I found this on Etsy at a vintage shop. I think it keeps the tea hotter longer too.
Teresa, I used to brew tea in a lovely old pewter pot. That and an very old unglazed Chinese dragon pot worried my DH!
Your metal one is very charming. I must get back to using more than just my everyday ones. I really miss using my Mason's transferware square teapot; I soaked it in bleach (a big mistake) and since then it exudes grainy crystalline stuff from the crazing.
Some day I will count my tea pots.
I hope you like that Darjeeling.
Kitchen Detective, great grandma swore by Liptons loose leaf, but I have had Swetouchne and like that too. And yes, it's not the end of the world to use a tea bag, the greatest difference in teas being the quality of the tea leaves. It's just easier to hide carpy tea in a tea bag, so caveat emptor. There's a lot of variety in teas so something for everyone. I don't know why I like the malty ones the best rather than the herbal or smokey ones, but it may have something to do with how well that tea holds up to Grandma's molasses cookies!
Ah me too. My life is complete when I met loose leaf tea. It's very different from the tea that you can buy at the supermarket.
Ordered more tea from Upton's on Tuesday, 3/5 and it arrived Thursday, 3/7 with only $4.40 shipping charge. And a free sample of green tea.
Sign me "a happy customer"
Went on an out of town loose leaf tea run to Wegmans. Lol. I took a trip for tea!
Lpinkmountain, I've read that D-Mannose and Marshmallow Root in combination are very good for IC relief and prevention. If you haven't tried those yet, it might be worth it.
Re. tea, hub and I are currently hooked on loose-leaf Rooibos and Tulsi. No caffeine and lots of health benefits, as well as very tasty. I just pour the hot water directly on the loose tea leaves in the pot and then pour the steeped tea through a small, fine-mesh sieve. Works perfectly to filter out all the leaves and bits and pieces.
I am not a big tea drinker but I have tried and enjoyed some of the Harney & Sons teas. I rarely see the name mentioned when tea comes up and wonder why? Would love to hear from a tea expert.
For those who use any old pot around - in our case, a tempered glass coffeepot - the compostable paper filters are wonderful. I've linked to amazon's page as they have a picture which is self-explanatory.
One of my favorite teas is brewed at a couple of local restaurants. I haven't looked for it yet as we are stocked up with enough tea for the next year, all different kinds, LOL. It's a Ceylon-based black tea with organic lavender and vanilla. My DH doesn't normally like flavored teas - he hates Earl Gray and loves Turkish or Peet's (smoked) Russian Caravan - but he thought this flavored black tea was really exceptional.
Here is a link that might be useful: Paper tea filters
Okay just to dump those on the compost pile?