Do I Need Better Equipment?


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Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby beforewisdom » Apr 3rd, '13, 11:10

I do most of my tea drinking at the office. I'm not on the same floor as the kitchen.

Is the equipment I am using okay, or would I get noticeably better results from investing in other things?

I use a Brita Pitcher and an electric kettle for the water:

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I use a supermarket food thermometer like this one

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My teaspoons:

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My tea pot

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My cup ( 8 fluid ounces )
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Is there anything else that would be good for the office that would make a difference with making better quality tea, be more convenient, etc?
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby BrooklynBrew » Apr 3rd, '13, 11:57

I am a relative newb with tea (I've been drinking it exclusively for almost two years) and my setup is not far off than yours. I do use a variable temp kettle from Adagio which does the trick for me (but I used to use the thermometer before that). I also use measuring spoons for my tea (although I just started using a chashaku for matcha and I got a bamboo scoop in Japan I've yet to master).

I have different brewing vessels--two western pots, a small yixing pot, three gaiwan, a kyusu and a houhin--all of them are nothing fancy, but they do the trick depending on what I'm brewing. I try not to get tooooo snooty with my tea geekery and keep things basic (I also don't have TONS of money to throw around either). I think with a little knowledge and trial and error, you can brew a good cup with a variety of equipment.
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby chingwa » Apr 3rd, '13, 15:14

Office environment is difficult... at least it has been in my experience. Water was the main factor, having been use to using my tetsubin at home for water, an electric kettle at work couldn't compare. I think the setup you have looks pretty good (though your teaspoon may be too small... :) ) and a digital thermometer might serve you better, for more accurate/quick readings. And of course the tea quality itself will be the overriding factor in everything...

Welcome to the world of tea, enjoy your trip down the rabbit hole :)
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby Evan Draper » Apr 3rd, '13, 15:41

I think most people will tell you to upgrade only as much as you feel comfortable. From your starting point, the teaware that might make the biggest difference is an inexpensive TDS meter. You can play around with different water sources and see what makes sense for your tea and your environment. You can also try working with a digital scale (.1 gram sensitivity or better) but some people might tell you this is a crutch you don't want to start relying on too heavily.
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby beforewisdom » Apr 3rd, '13, 15:51

Evan Draper wrote:I think most people will tell you to upgrade only as much as you feel comfortable. From your starting point, the teaware that might make the biggest difference is an inexpensive TDS meter.


I never heard the term before. Google tells me it is a "Total Dissolved Solid meter". How and why would you use that in preparing tea?

Got the digital scale already :)
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby Evan Draper » Apr 3rd, '13, 16:07

A TDS measurement is the fundamental way to differentiate between different waters' different tastes. I would characterize suitable water as the most important thing after good tea and practice.
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby yalokinh » Apr 3rd, '13, 16:17

beforewisdom wrote:I do most of my tea drinking at the office. I'm not on the same floor as the kitchen.

Is the equipment I am using okay, or would I get noticeably better results from investing in other things?

I use a Brita Pitcher and an electric kettle for the water:

Image

I use a supermarket food thermometer like this one

Image

My teaspoons:

Image

My tea pot

Image

My cup ( 8 fluid ounces )
Image

Is there anything else that would be good for the office that would make a difference with making better quality tea, be more convenient, etc?



I have that same proctor silex kettle,
It sucks haha, I got a glass kettle shortly after because it left a horrible taste in everything
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby chingwa » Apr 3rd, '13, 17:00

I'm not sure how you would really use a TDS meter to determine taste... tea requires a certain amount of mineral content or softness to give a good "tea taste" (well, depending on the type of tea anywayl). If you've ever tried making tea with distilled water then you know what I mean :) but how this reading translates to taste I really couldn't tell ya...

just make sure when using a TDS meter that you use it on cold water for consistent readings. temperature will affect the conductivity of the elements in the water.
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby Joel Byron » Apr 3rd, '13, 21:09

I use a kettle similar to that when I travel, but since you are in an office, maybe a kettle upgrade would help? I don't see any problem with any of the other teaware for an office setup. Are you drinking mostly Japanese greens?
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby beforewisdom » Apr 3rd, '13, 21:53

Yes.

What should I look in a better electric kettle?
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby debunix » Apr 3rd, '13, 21:56

Is there anything you're finding that is a problem with the equipment you have? No need to upgrade if it works for you and makes good tea out of the leaves you've got.
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby gingkoseto » Apr 3rd, '13, 22:28

The thermometer is a bad one. Although I don't like any kind of thermometer for tea, if I would choose one, I would choose a different one. The thermometer showed is one for baking goods. You've got to put the whole stick into water to make sense out of the water temperature, and if your cup or pot is not deep enough for its full length, then it won't work well :mrgreen:

Everything else looks fine to me.
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby Chip » Apr 3rd, '13, 23:04

gingkoseto wrote:The thermometer is a bad one. Although I don't like any kind of thermometer for tea, if I would choose one, I would choose a different one. The thermometer showed is one for baking goods. You've got to put the whole stick into water to make sense out of the water temperature, and if your cup or pot is not deep enough for its full length, then it won't work well :mrgreen:

Everything else looks fine to me.

Actually ... only the maybe an inch or so needs to be in the water. Granted, I use a digital, but the analog ones work pretty much the same. Swishing it around a few times assures a more accurate reading.

In fact, when I check water temp, and the thermometer is deep in the water, then raise the thermometer up towards the top, the temp increases (as heat rises I guess) even if the thermometer is only in the water less than an inch.

Some thermometers give much faster reading than others ... it is annoyong waiting on slow equipment. 8)
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby Tead Off » Apr 4th, '13, 04:26

Evan Draper wrote:A TDS measurement is the fundamental way to differentiate between different waters' different tastes. I would characterize suitable water as the most important thing after good tea and practice.

Thanks for the tip on this. I didn't know there were inexpensive ones readily available on ebay.
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Re: Do I Need Better Equipment?

Postby teaisme » Apr 4th, '13, 14:47

I still don't see much use from a basic TDS meter beyond getting a vague idea of whether the water is hard or not. (by observing low tds + no visual cloudiness (since tds meters do not detect macroscopic particulates you must use your eyes for things like rust color-iron oxide--)
The only thing you really get to know from that thing is roughly how much organic/inorganic substances are actively conductive in the water.

These things could be almost anything...some obviously tasting better then others. Some welcome and natural, some pretty sketchy and hazardous.

one water with tds 200 but high % calcium will taste very different from water tds 200 with a higher % magnesium

Should note also that any substance not charged will not be picked up (which is a lot of stuff). Also conductivity rises as temperature rises. Pure water rises in a rather linear way. Spring water and tap all have different types of ions, so the rate of the change/degree can vary water to water. This will throw off the accuracy of cheaper meters if you can not adjust or change the temperature coefficient and you use the meter with a variety of waters.

Sorry, in short...I don't like :mrgreen:
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