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On Camellia Sinensis (Tea)

Posted March 30th, 2009. Filed under Personal

I’ve recently joined the ranks of tea aficionados and thought I’d share my experiences and resources with everyone.  Tea is one of those things that you don’t realize you’ve been missing out on until you truly experience it.  Growing up, I hated clam chowder.  My father loved it and always had some of the Campbell’s canned variety in the pantry.  Then I spent a summer in Boston and tasted real clam chowder for the first time in my life.  It was an eye opening experience.  I now enjoy clam chowder enough to even eat the canned-crap version.

I’ve had a similar experience with tea.  I can’t say I hated tea, but I never realized that most bagged tea is crap-tea - made from low quality (sometimes leftover) tea leaves by machines.  Inspired by discussion of good tea on an episode of Diggnation, I decided to purchase a proper infuser and some tea leaves to see what “real tea” tasted like.  My verdict: if you have yet to taste good quality tea steeped at the proper temperature for the proper length of time, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

Here are some resources for those interested:

Tea

Hands down, the best place to buy good tea that I’ve found is Adagio Teas.  They’ve got a great website with several dozens of varieties of tea for your brewing pleasure.  Further, Adagio gives you the ability to create your own custom tea blends!  Check out Patrick Thompson’s Battlestar Galactica Blend, for instance :).  I ordered a few tea samplers (something like 25 different varieties of tea).  Once I get a good taste of them all, I intend to create and post my own tea blends.  Also on Adagio’s site, you’ll find some social features thrown in for good measure - wishlists, a friend list, even a TeaChat.

Follow @AdagioTeas on Twitter, they post codes to get 10% off an order pretty frequently.

Equipment

A good infuser is a must.  I got mine pretty cheap in the tea aisle at the super market and it works well.  For something more fun, check out the Shark Fin.

For most just starting out, an infuser is the only equipment necessary.  If you decide to get more serious about the tea hobby, you’ll also need a good way to watch the temperature of your water.  I haven’t actually tried this, but Kevin Rose, one of my tea inspirations, recommends this kettle with a built in thermometer.  It’s definitely an investment, only for those very serious about their tea-craft.  For now, I’m using a regular thermometer to estimate temperature.  It’s definitely not the most accurate solution and I do intend to “upgrade” at some point down the road.

If you want a fancy mug with a built in infuser, check out the Adagio Teaware section, they’ve got some interesting stuff.

Blogs

Here are the tea blogs I’m subscribed to.  I’m definitely interested in checking out some other tea blogs, so please, by all means, leave me links in the comments :)

http://www.teamuse.com/

http://multipleinfusions.com/

Multiple Infusions has a directory of tea blogs.  There’s alot there and I’m slowly making my way through checking them out to see what’s worth following.

Other Stuff Worth Checking Out

@goodtea on Twitter and the corresponding Facebook group

Wikipedia pages are always interesting reading to familiarize yourself with a topic. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea)

2 Responses so far

  1. Thanks for the nice writeup. I noticed you haven’t (yet) ordered our ingenuiTEA teapot. It’s a super simple way of making loose tea that I think you’d enjoy. I’ll add a note to your account to include one with your next purchase.

  2. Kate says:

    Hey this is awesome Ken I used to drink a lot of tea and use an infuser but it broke a long time ago and I never got a new one. I totally just went on and ordered their starter pack.

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