Adventures with tea

At Christmas I got an excellent teapot and DH got himself an electric kettle (for his coffee habit).

One great thing about this teapot is that it has a large mouthed bucket filter.  My previous adventures with loose-leaf tea have involved balls of various kinds and sizes which are pain to fill and a worse pain to clean.  With this teapot I just scoop out two tablespoons of tea (one for the pot and one for me), fill with hot water, and then dump out the solids into the compost when I’m done.  The dishwasher will take care of any lingering tea residue.

I don’t drink caffeine on a regular basis (because when I need it for migraines I really need it, also withdrawal is a harsh mistress), but I do like herbal tea.  It turns out a lot of loose leaf tea is better than a lot of teabags, which has given me a new appreciation for even teas that I like in bag form (for example, mint). I’m still not that crazy about roobios (I overdid it on roobios teabags when it came out and have not yet recovered) and straight ginger tea reminds me of morning sickness (since constantly drinking it was the only thing that would keep me from throwing up early on with both kids).

I went to a great cafe in The City where the nice lady at the counter recommended hibiscus mint, which mixes my two favorite teas together.  She even gave me some loose tea to take home even though they don’t sell loose tea.  On a later City trip I went to an actual tea shop and got bags of different teas, some of which I wasn’t crazy about and gave to DH and some of which I really liked.  They have a great mint, but they didn’t carry hibiscus by itself, only in mixes, so I couldn’t recreate hibiscus mint. (The lady there suggested trying the Mexican grocery chain for hibiscus, but we didn’t make it to one.)  And, sadly, their rose bud tea seems to have been contaminated with something I’m allergic to (which could be any number of things, like grass or any number of tree pollens)– I love rose, but I don’t love hives.

I tried the teashop in our town, but they only had mixes and their teas were kind of stale and unexciting.  :(  I would be surprised if they stay in business, especially with competition from several excellent boba tea places that just opened.

I ordered some hibiscus from amazon, thinking I was getting 4 oz for $10 and actually got a pound.  It’s ok, but not great– misses the tart bite I like most from hibiscus.  It makes a pretty decent iced tea though.  I gave 4 oz to one of my colleagues who makes tea in her office, but 12 oz is still a lot to go through!

On one of my recent conference trips, I stopped at Teavana and really like the box of citrus tea blends that I picked up.  They mix quite nicely with the hibiscus as well.  Generally I’ll do one steeping of just their citrus blend and add a tablespoon of hibiscus to the second steeping.

I considered going to the rishi tea site and ordering a bunch of samplers from their loose herbal teas (along with another pack of mint), but before doing that, I impulse bought a 3 month subscription to Tea Runners for DH.  It’s supposed to be 3 regular teas and 1 herbal tea, but our first packet was 4 regular teas, including a tea that combines the two things DH hates most in tea– Lavender and Bergamot (he really hates Earl Grey).  (He also dislikes chicory and believes that fruit and meat should never be combined in a savory dish, but that’s the extent of his food dislikes– he’s pretty easy-going.)  So that was a bit of a disappointment.  I may yet do a rishi order.

I like mixing the teas together to make new flavor combinations.

DH sometimes makes his own chai from (Penzey‘s) spices, and I’ve seen other suggestions for homemade herbal teas, but I haven’t gone that route yet.

So:  Tea, when you need something warmer or less fizzy than La Croix.

Do you drink tea?  What kind do you like?  Where do you get it?

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . 29 Comments »

29 Responses to “Adventures with tea”

  1. Bev Says:

    Living in the sticks far from tea shops, I rely on mail-order. For decades I’ve been ordering loose tea from Stash ( I love their chai blends and most of their black teas, but they have a wide variety of herbal teas as well, including hibiscus. I’m not a fan of mint teas, but they have a Moroccan mint that makes fabulous iced tea (although it’s green tea so there’s caffeine). In 35 years, I’ve never been disappointed with their products or their service, which is saying something.

  2. Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial Says:

    I buy loose leaf tea from Their Tokyo (green) tea has little delicious sesame notes in it that are rad, though the caffeine is still enough that it’s only a Monday morning drink for me. I also like their Ginger Twist, Christmas Time teas.

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I should add that we tried one of the tearunners black teas yesterday. Making it according to their instructions it was too weak, but letting it steep a little longer it was pretty amazing, if you want caffeinated tea. My colleague liked the lavender earl grey.

    • Katherine Says:

      Lavender earl grey sounds wonderful to me! A year or two ago my stepmother gave me a box of lavender chamomile that I really loved. Unfortunately she and my dad live in CA and I live in the midwest, so I haven’t been able to find it anywhere locally to get more.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        My DH doesn’t have many food dislikes, but the few he does have seem a bit odd.

        Me, I hate chamomile because a former roommate (not #2) used to soak rags in it to put on her face and then leave the bowls out to rot and grow mold. I cannot stand the smell of chamomile now.

        I have some lavender-orange from Teavana that I like.

  4. chacha1 Says:

    I like: Twinings decaffeinated green tea (bag), for morning yoga/cat routine; Celestial Seasonings decaffeinated chai tea (bag) for evenings, especially evenings when I feel like adding a shot of Wild Turkey American Honey liqueur; mint tea (not particular about brand) for afternoons at work when I am bored and/or hungry, to avoid snacking. If I need extra caffeine in the morning I might have a cup of English Breakfast (bag) from the breakroom.

    Tell your DH he hasn’t lived till he’s had pork shoulder pot roast with pineapple. :-)

  5. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    I’m a tea addict (real tea, Camellia sinensis, not other herbs), but I don’t like paying high prices for stale tea in tea bags, so I buy my tea in bulk from one of the local grocery stores (Staff of Life—it isn’t the closest, but they have the best tea selection). Currently I have mason jars of Oolong, Pu-erh, Assam, and Genmai Cha on my shelf, but I often get Lapsang Souchong aor Earl Grey. If I was into mixing my own herb teas, I’d probably buy at the Herb Room, which is much closer to where I live. I do keep a little mint and lemon grass from my garden—they are easy to grow here and dry well.

    My wife drinks coffee in the morning and herb teas at night, but she uses commercial tea bags (often Celestial Seasonings, sometimes other brands).

    I use stainless steel mesh tea infusers (the type with a spring handle). When there get to be too many deposits, I burn them off on the gas stove.

  6. Elaine Says:

    I have the larger version of that teapot and I love it, especially the filter basket which I will also use with my regular mugs to make just a cup. I’ve ordered loose tea from in the past and was really pleased. They let you pick three samples with each order so you can test out new teas without having to buy a lot. They have an herbal called Casablanca that I really like which includes hibiscus as one of the ingredients. Hibiscus mint sounds good, I’m going to have to try to find that. Do you think adding lemon would help with the missing tartness for your less exciting hibiscus tea?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      ooh, nice!

      Lemon does help with the hibiscus. This Teavana box I got has sorts of different tart citrus and they’ve all been mixing really well with my gigantic bag of hibiscus.

  7. Sandy L Says:

    I buy my nice loose teas from a place called the tea table via mail order. You can order free samples with orders. I drink black decaf teas and they have the best English and irish breakfast in decaf form. Most decaf black tea loses much of its flavor but their process for decaffinating seems to retain more of the original flavors.

    My favorite tea bag tea is Harney and sons.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Free samples are awesome. We got a tin of Harney and sons teabags at a coffee shop when we went exploring at a suburb we hadn’t been to before for our anniversary. (DH still likes his yogi better. I can’t remember if we preferred the mighty leaf or the harney and sons.)

  8. minneswiss Says:

    Have you tried Mighty Leaf? It has good distribution in tea bag form (certainly at Whole Foods, likely other places, too), and I liked the loose leaf that I purchased via their website (Verbena, though now they only carry Verbena Mint which is a lemon/minty blend). They often also have free shipping specials, etc.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We have some mighty leaf. DH likes Yogi better for the teas that they both have. My favorite tea bag company is Allegro, but we have to go to the city to get it. Locally our best grocery store options are Yogi and Tazo.

  9. Anu Says:

    I buy my loose leaf tea from Upton Tea Imports. Highly recommend them – their samplers are great if you want to see what a particular variety of tea is about. Very reasonably priced especially if you’ve been paying Teavana prices and their tea is actually good (i.e. they know where their tea is coming from, it’s more about the tea than the flavorings). Their catalogs are also really educational. I mostly drink unflavored black tea (Assam is my go-to) with the exception of Earl Grey, and occasionally herbal teas. I also love masala chai, but I mostly just flavor it myself with cardamom and dried ginger rather than relying on a mix.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      In defense of my single Teavana purchase, the box I got was on clearance.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Anu Says:

        Sorry, that came off a bit more snooty than I would have liked, but I guess we all have things we’re snooty about :) I had a really bad upselling experience in a Teavana store so I may be a bit allergic to them.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The one I was at was at a mall that had more employees than shoppers– no upselling, but lots of doubling over to offer us free samples. I think the two employees were lonely and bored. (I sure hope that mall stays in business- I can’t imagine what going to that annual conference would be like without easy access to the food court and CVS. The third floor which used to have the more upscale shops is now half empty, so we’re worried!)

    • Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

      I’ve also done well with Upton. This summer I was able to buy Twining’s Russian Caravan at their original store in the Strand. That was a lovely experience for a tea/history nerd.

  10. Sarah Says:

    I have tried dozens of online tea retailers and rishi is consistently the freshest and tastiest. We mostly drink caffeinated tea, however, my household loves rishi’s tumeric ginger. The ginger is nuanced and the smell is amazing.

  11. Cloud Says:

    I drink a black tea every morning. I like British, Scottish and Irish standard or breakfast blends for morning. I think my favorite of all time was a Welsh brand, but my access to that was short-lived. If I had a connection in Ireland, I’d probably get them to send me Bewley’s. Taylor’s of Harrogate makes a lot of teas I like and can get here. I can no longer buy any of those at my grocery store, so either I order some from Amazon or I stop in one of the Persian markets in my neighborhood and buy Turkish or Iranian tea, which is also pretty nice for mornings, but I can’t read the names so I can’t tell you what they are!

    If I want more caffeine in the afternoon, I go with darjeeling or a flavored black tea- I really like chocolate black tea, but have only recently found a local supplier for that. If I don’t want caffeine, I do something fruity or a lemon ginger.

    I buy from all sorts of places. There are a couple of good tea shops locally, but neither are actually in my neighborhood, so I often order online, too. I like Lupicia and Adagio when I order.

    One weird tea thing about me is that I despise Earl Grey. Other than that, I tend to like almost anything decent.

  12. Linda Says:

    I don’t drink tea every day, but I do have some preferences for when I drink it. Most of the time when I want tea it’s a cup of black tea with milk (goat milk, since my body doesn’t tolerate cow milk very well). For a while when I was drinking tea in the morning instead of coffee I’d order Mighty Leaf’s Organic Breakfast tea.

    More recently I found Numi’s Pu-erh Cardamom tea and liked it so much I ordered several boxes of it. I also like Genmaicha green teas, and Numi makes a great “toasted rice” green tea that has lovely subtle flavors.

    For herbal teas, I like mint, too, and my favorite is chocolate mint tea. If you can keep a plant alive in a pot, keeping some chocolate mint on hand is quite a treat. I would just snip some stalks, stuff them in a pot, and steep the whole thing fresh. It doesn’t exactly taste like chocolate, but it is a sweet mint with a smooth flavor that hints at chocolate.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      ooh, I really like cardamom

      The chocolate mint that had been a constant threat to our backyard herb garden for 10-odd years suddenly up and died this summer. We don’t know why.

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