Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea


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Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby Charles » Jan 4th, '10, 15:47

My project for today (as I prepare Adagio to move into their first retail store) is to review all of our packaging and brewing instructions. Honestly, I think the instructions lack some critical information. In the interests of simplicity I'm afraid we've left too much to chance and may have left some customers with less than ideal tea drinking experiences. We'll be updating our approach to brewing instructions in the coming months.

That said, I've written an article http://www.tearetailer.com/article_24.html on HOW to prepare the perfect cup of tea.

I'm curious how many of you take the time to weigh, measure and time your tea and how many just wing it? Also, what instructions or information would YOU like to see on a package of tea?
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby RachelC » Jan 4th, '10, 15:59

You are right about the lack of instructions. However I did my own research to find out what is appropriate for the various different types of teas out there. I am glad that there will be more precise information available soon. I have recently introduced many of my friends and family to the world of loose leaf tea and have being getting a lot of calls and E-Mails about how to brew teas, so the instructions would be greatly appreciated. As for me I do try to brew tea according to instructions the first time and adjust to taste. The water temperature is very important to me so I do use a water dispenser that manages that for me and I am very satisfied with the results.

Drinking bottled Green AnTeadote now.
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby olivierco » Jan 4th, '10, 16:28

Charles wrote:

I'm curious how many of you take the time to weigh, measure and time your tea and how many just wing it? Also, what instructions or information would YOU like to see on a package of tea?


I always weigh my tea.

I like precise instructions (leaf/water ratio, time for first steep and subsequent infusions) so that I know how the seller appreciates the tea he sells. I however most of the time don't follow the instructions given because I like to experiment.
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby Chip » Jan 4th, '10, 16:41

A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. :wink:

When I started drinking tea in 1998, I purchased my first green from RoT (Republic of Tea who happens to be almost as "popular" here as that other retailer), came with very simple directions, like one sentence. Only problem is they were wrong, too general snd way too HOT ... whoa talk about bitter brew. I could have followed those directions for the entire tin and never had a decent cup. And maybe never tried another green again.

Fortunately, like so many of us, we discovered correct brewing through other resourses or on our own.

As I read the current Adagio labeling, I do not think I ever follow the brewing directions for greens, possibly yes for the blacks. But they definitely need work.

In varying degrees, I am one of those who will use a scale, thermometer, timer, etc when I feel it is appropriate to the tea for me. Having clearly defined parameters in various measuring languages (grams and teaspoons for instance) would benefit many tea drinkers, especially those who are just not the "wing it" types ... a lot of this has to do with personality.
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby geeber1 » Jan 4th, '10, 16:47

Beginners need instructions.

I was very lost when I got my first Adagio order. Especially when you consider that, for example, the usual instructions for a black tea are: 1 tsp. tea for 1 cup of water, but the normal cup measurement for tea purposes is 6 oz., not 8 oz.

It would also be nice to have measurements in ounces and in grams or ml.

I like user-friendly instructions that give me the information I need without making me feel stupid.
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby Charles » Jan 4th, '10, 16:50

I'm also fascinated by how DIFFERENT even the instructions are among retailers. My old employer, for example, would suggest brewing Silver Needle White teas at 170 degrees F for 2 minutes. Adagio's current instructions are 180 degrees for 7 minutes. And I've seen everything in between! This is definitely an area were personal preference rules...
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby Geekgirl » Jan 4th, '10, 16:52

Charles wrote: Adagio's current instructions are 180 degrees for 7 minutes.


:shock:
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby Charles » Jan 4th, '10, 16:55

geeber1 wrote:I like user-friendly instructions that give me the information I need without making me feel stupid.


My current recommendation (yet to be discussed with the powers that be at Adagio) would be to go with instructions in this basic format:

2g (one heaping teaspoon) per 6oz of boiling water. Steep 3-5 min.

Any other critical info you'd like to see?
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby Chip » Jan 4th, '10, 17:05

I know this gets problematic ...

For instance, 1 heaping teaspoon of say Keemun Hao Ya A might weigh in at a hefty 2.75-3 grams while a FF Darjeeling might not even hit 1 gram depending on how fluffy it is.

So, it has to be tea specific in order to work.
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby Charles » Jan 4th, '10, 17:09

Chip wrote:So, it has to be tea specific in order to work.


To be sure. I currently have about 15 stock instructions that cover all but a few teas in the collection. The example I gave was for your typical orthodox black tea, but a CTC or Keemun would be one level teaspoon. A large leaf Oolong would be two heaping teaspoons, etc...
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby geeber1 » Jan 4th, '10, 18:58

I agree that teaspoons are a bit misleading, but most people don't have a scale. I use a teaspoon to measure my "usual" teas, that I can basically eyeball without much trouble. These are also much more forgiving than many other teas. Anything I'm not comfortable with, I weigh. Maybe Adagio should offer a scale at reduced price with each customer's first order. :?:
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby jazz88 » Jan 4th, '10, 20:32

Here are my observations:
• most people do not read instructions :)
• people using scale and thermometer are a minority
I have to admit that I'm not any different :oops:
Improving instructions would definitely be a good idea. I would also suggest adding more "How to" videos to the website.
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby LauraW » Jan 6th, '10, 11:03

This hasn't yet happened to me with Adagio teas, but I purchased a box of one of my absolute favorite teas from my favorite tea shop. Up to this point I'd only ever had it in their store, and thus had no real idea how they prepared it. So I got it home, put in approximately the right amount for how much water, etc. and the tea just tasted awful. I made another cup a week or so later, same result. I just couldn't get this tea to taste right. Well, I'm normally not the type to sweeten or alter the tea - if it's not right coming straight out of the jar, I'm more apt to adjust brewing time or temp than actually add milk or sugar. But I checked the box and sure enough, at the very bottom of the label: "Best with honey." I brewed another cup that very minute, put in copious amounts of honey, and lo and behold - my favorite tea was saved!

In short: if certain teas go well with milk, be sure to say so! If a particular tea should be sweetened with honey, not sugar, put it in with the instructions! I know enough about tea to guess temperatures and steeping times based on the type of tea - but it takes far longer, from my experience, to figure out what goes best in it.
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby cls46 » Jan 6th, '10, 11:40

I think basic instructions should be kept and a message saying that they can find more specific instructions online if they would like to know more. I think that too specific of instructions can psych people out. I have a friend who I have just recently introduced to loose tea and she bought some from adagio. She received her zodiac tea as a free sample. She called me worried about messing up her tea because it was two blacks and an oolong and how could she brew that because they have different brewing times according to her adagio paper black teas had one brewing time and oolongs could be dark or light and how was she supposed to know the difference? Long story short she seemed overwhelmed and she was just dealing with basic instructions. I personally have just learned through my own trial and error how to brew tea the way that I like them.
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Re: Proper instructions for the perfect cup of tea

Postby gingkoseto » Jan 6th, '10, 17:32

That's an interesting question!
I never figure out how people make instruction of tea brewing. For many tea, there isn't one standard way of brewing. Many instructions I saw from Chinese or Taiwanese tea packages are very far from how most people brew the tea, and it seems people don't read them anyway. So it seems many vendors are struggling with this problem.
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