New to loose leaf tea - few questions


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New to loose leaf tea - few questions

Postby Vermont Cathy » Jan 25th, '13, 11:42

Hi, everyone! I'm Cathy, from Vermont (USA). I've loved tea for a long time, now, but today is my first day of loose leaf tea! I'm so excited. I'm not sure if I should ask a couple quick questions here or elsewhere on this site, so I'll just put them here:

1. Instructions say one or one and a half teaspoons of tea per cup. I read that for fine tea, it should be level, heaping for regular tea. One tea I just opened has dried raspberries - whole berries - and rose buds. One berry or bud pretty much fills my teaspoon! So I'll just toss a berry & a bud in the infuser, and then measure without berries... but... any tips on measuring flavored teas with lots of big things like fruit? I want to make sure I get some of the tea and not just the big bits.

2. I have been paying attention to steeping times and temps. I used to just use the hot water from the water cooler when I had tea (bags) at work. But I brought in a cooking thermometer, and it looks like that water is not hot enough. I want to do this right. So I can buy some sort of electric kettle or Hot Shot for work (I'm usually only making one cup at a time, so some of those kettles are too big - any suggestions?), or I can fill my mug with hot water from the water cooler, and then pop it in the microwave, then dip the infuser in it (I have the Remi mug from teavana). Except, dipping the infuser in, the tea seems to all float at the top rather than being down in the water... think that's a problem?

And then, I look at some different sites, and they're saying different temps! For Mate, Teavana says 208 for 5-6 Min., Adagio says 150 for 3-5 minutes, and this site - http://remedyteas.com/?page_id=13 - says 185 for 3-5 min. So much for me being totally precise and getting the temp exactly right! Does time & temp REALLY matter that much? And if so, why do different sites list different times & temps?

3. What's your favorite source for loose-leaf tea online? I ordered from Teavana, then later read here that they can be expensive, and not necessarily the best. They also don't have sample sizes - just 2 ounces. I also ordered two tins of tea forte from Amazon.

EDITED to add: I forgot when I posted #3 that this forum is sponsored by Adagio! :) I do think my next purchase will be from there.
Last edited by Vermont Cathy on Jan 25th, '13, 17:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New to loose leaf tea - few questions

Postby Neist » Jan 25th, '13, 12:13

Well, I'll attempt to answer the questions, and hopefully no one answers before I finish this post. :)

1. Some of this is more of an eyeball sort of thing. With chunkier teas, I try to visually determine how much I need by how much footprint space it takes in your brewing vessel. A lot of teas, and not just the kind that have chunks of fruit and whatnot in them, will not easily fit into a tablespoon/teaspoon.

2a. An electric kettle is a wonderful idea. I actually use this one at work, and its splendid. http://www.bona-vita.biz/products/kettle5.asp It's not all that large either. It warms about a liter of water.

2b. The tea floating at the top isn't an issue as long as it's been well-coated with water (at least in my experience). Most tea will float, and after it steeps for a bit, will sink. If you're worried it's not becoming moist enough, just poke at it with your finger or a spoon to ensure its properly moistened.

2c. Steeping times and temps vary wildly from person to person, that's why they vary so wildly on sites. Everyone has their own preference, and probably everyone is right. The longer you brew, the stronger it will be typically, though I would stick to the temperature guidelines, at least in the beginning. Some teas will develop undesirable flavors when brewed too hot. As my own general rule, tea can be always steeped cooler, but when steeped warmer, use some caution. The cooler you steep, the longer it will take (think hours). You could steep tea in room temp water, but it may take all night to do so.

3. If you're just getting into loose-leaf, Adagio is pretty decent. :) The issue is a lot of the better online vendors are overseas. There's nothing wrong with that, but samples may take a while to get to you. It's just more of an involved process. I'd use Adagio to feel out what areas you might be more interested in and then ask the boards or explore the vendor section to find a vendor best suited for your tea preferences. :)

Sorry if I missed a question! And for the inevitable typos.

Edit: First round of typo fixes! :lol:
Last edited by Neist on Jan 25th, '13, 14:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New to loose leaf tea - few questions

Postby Devoted135 » Jan 25th, '13, 13:08

Neist wrote:3. If you're just getting into loose-leaf, Adagio is pretty decent. :) The issue is a lot of the better online vendors are overseas. There's nothing wrong with that, but samples may take a while to get to you. It's just more of an involved process. I'd use Adagio to feel out what areas you might be more interested in and then ask the boards or explode the vendor section to find a vendor best suited for your tea preferences. :)

Sorry if I missed a question! And for the inevitable typos.


I bolded my favorite part. :lol:

Welcome Cathy! What Neist said seems like great advice to me, especially the part about checking out Adagio, their delivery times are great! I've never tried Mate, so hopefully someone can help you out there. :)
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Re: New to loose leaf tea - few questions

Postby Neist » Jan 25th, '13, 14:08

Well, I did say there would be typos. :lol:
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Re: New to loose leaf tea - few questions

Postby Chip » Jan 25th, '13, 14:27

Welcome to the forum Cathy! Great to have you at our TeaTable.

Thank you to members for providing answers to Cathy's questions ...

Cathy, you will likely garner more responses if you post specific tea questions in the appropriate forums of TeaChat. :idea: :wink: :arrow: Just a suggestion. :mrgreen:
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Re: New to loose leaf tea - few questions

Postby Vermont Cathy » Jan 25th, '13, 17:33

Thanks everyone! Chip - I'll definitely post in specific threads if I have more questions. Neist - thanks for that kettle suggestion. It looks wonderful. I think I'll have to let the financial shock of my first loose tea (and infuser mugs) purchase to wear off a little, but then I'll probably end up buying that. It's just too much of a fiasco to dispense the hot bottled water, nuke it for another minute, hope the temp is good, try to sink the tea, etc. I just saw a video on Tea Forte that said to always pour the water over the tea, and the nuke method doesn't allow for that. But it is good to know that the lower temps will work, but I'd have to increase the time. I'll have to ponder that. But 170 (as it comes out of the water cooler) seems pretty far from 208...

I am anti-bottled water, also - my filtered well water from home is great - so although I'd be buying a new gadget, the up side is that I wouldn't be supporting the (often un-necessary) bottled water industry (the water in the water cooler). See, we can find all kinds of ways to justify our tea purchases, eh?

One last question - I subscribed to this thread, but it didn't email me when you all responded. Is it only a daily email notification, not an instant one? I did check my spam folder.
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Re: New to loose leaf tea - few questions

Postby Chip » Jan 25th, '13, 17:42

Vermont Cathy wrote:One last question - I subscribed to this thread, but it didn't email me when you all responded. Is it only a daily email notification, not an instant one? I did check my spam folder.

Ah yes ... the subscription email notification has been problematic for years, sorry about that.
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Re: New to loose leaf tea - few questions

Postby AdamMY » Feb 3rd, '13, 12:04

Welcome Cathy! Hope to continue to see you posting around the forums.
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