Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have


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Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby theedudenator » Feb 6th, '14, 01:45

One year ago I ordered a few packs of tea - drank all of it.
One month ago ordered again, not impressed. I need to improve something.

I use a plastic electric kettle.
Tap water from filter system (not RO water)
Use digital thermometer to target temp in the kettle
I eyeball some tea into my IngenuiTEA Bottom-Dispensing Teapot
Fill it with the hot water.
Wait 3-4minutes (sometimes longer)
Drink it.

Teavana Tea
Champagne Sangria Punch Black Tea - Have not tried yet

Youthberry White Tea - not much to this one...

Monkey Picked Oolong Tea - astringent - most times I make it I have the impression I used too much tea. Overpowering...

Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls Green Tea - astringent also, not much dimension in flavor.

Is it the tea company?
Type of tea I bought?
How important is measuring quantity of tea per cup?
How bad is over steeping? 3-4min is actually 6min?
I would like to try a tea with cream also? Suggestions?
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby TIM » Feb 6th, '14, 02:36

Get some real tea might help?
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby Ursinos » Feb 6th, '14, 02:57

Teavana has a very bad reputation on this forum, you will find. It seems the general concensus is to stay away from them if at all possible.

I have, myself, had a couple of teas from there that I liked at the time, but compared to my experiences now, I really see their stuff as only suitable if I have no other option lol.
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby debunix » Feb 6th, '14, 11:37

I've never experience Teavana teas in person, but I suspect some variation in time and temp of brewing could make a difference--I've rarely had any green tea that tasted well when brewed at the same time/temp as a black tea or traditional roast oolong.
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby Drax » Feb 6th, '14, 13:21

A few years back, I participated in a tea swap, and I received a number of Teavana teas. They were all "mixed teas" that had lots of "extras" in them (dried bits of fruit, flowers, other non-tea things). I did not enjoy them, but they struck me as potentially enjoyable with sweetener.

So my first question might be whether you enjoy tea with sweetener (sugar or other)? I also get the impression (again, from what I've heard) that a number of Teavana teas fall into that area. For example, the "chamagne sangria punch black tea" sounds like (to me) one that Teavana would serve with a lot of sugar. It's not good or bad, it all depends on your palette.

If you're okay with no sugar, I would at least expect their 'monkey picked' oolong to come out okay, and so you may be correct that you are oversteeping. My typical routine for oolongs starts with ~1g of tea for every 1 oz of water (boiling). I steep for 30 seconds, discard that steep. Wait ~1 min. Then add boiling water for 1 min -- and that's my first cup. I usually then do additional brews at 1 min, 2 min, 4 min, etc.

But different teas require different brewing parameters. For example the green tea you should probably use cooler water (170-180F). In general if the brew seems too strong or too astringent, you could try reducing the amount of leaf, lowering the temperature, or lowering the steeping time.

We might also be able to give some better pointers if you have the time to take pictures of the tea and your brewing apparatus (for example, I have no idea how much volume the IngenuiTEA holds, and of course the most important part is how much you mean when you say you "eyeball some tea").

What all that text means to say is -- I think we can help you get to better brews with what you have, and then we can help you get to better tea sources. :D
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby theedudenator » Feb 6th, '14, 22:15

My steeping device holds 16oz of water.
I am going to measure the water out by the ounce and measure tea by the gram.
I always measure water temp.

I was not aware of dumping the first steep, then steeping over again. I might try this also.
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby theedudenator » Feb 8th, '14, 00:27

4gram of Oolong Tea
16oz of filter water 190F in the tea pot
Stepped for 3min

This tasted much better.
I think my eyeball amount vs a measured 4grams was close
I think it was steep time.
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby ClarG » Feb 9th, '14, 01:20

Try steeping smaller amounts. I will make one teaspoon of tea for 1 or 1.5 cups of tea or 8oz of water, or 1.25 teaspoons for 1.5-2 cups when I want to be conservative, and I reuse the leaves at least twice.

I don't have a thermometer or a way of measuring water temperature exactly; but I pay attention to if the water is hot versus boiling in an open pot on the stove or with the amount of steam coming out of a tea kettle on the stove, and use different temperatures for different types of tea.

Unless it's pu-erh tea I don't rinse, or dump out the first steep.

I don't mind Teavana's teas but I've only sampled them in the store and never bought any as some are very expensive. I like Teavana's tea maker that a friend bought me for Christmas but I think that was because he and my roommates were tired of me using a strainer and leaving tea leaves in the kitchen sink. Also try different types of teas from different tea companies, and different countries.
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby Drax » Feb 9th, '14, 08:10

From what I've seen, ClarG's comments are in the minority. I found a couple of old threads (here and here) where we've discussed brewing techniques of oolongs in the past. In general, people do a short rinse to wake up the leaves (particularly with balled oolongs), and many recommendations involve smaller volumes and greater amounts of leaf.
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby theedudenator » Feb 10th, '14, 01:43

I think it is hard to measure with a teaspoon.
Since the tea is balled up.

If I reuse the tea leaves, I just start over again with 190F water?
Do they need to steep longer the second time?
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby Drax » Feb 10th, '14, 07:32

For multiple steeps, it depends on how much tea you have. If you're sticking with ~4g in 16oz, then your second steep should probably be a little longer.

When I use 1g of tea per 1oz of water, my steeps typically go (after a 30 second rinse and 60 second wait): 60s, 60s, 2m, 3m, 4m, 6m... you can go as long as you like, as long as you like the result! :D
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby mcrdotcom » Mar 10th, '14, 20:47

TIM wrote:Get some real tea might help?


Perhaps expanding on this point, have a look in the recommended tea vendor section and buy some better, less blended tea, or just better rated tea (vendors tend to have review sections etc...), then you might have an all round better experience!

Also, I stopped brewing most of my tea in a western fashion because I was having similar problems. I found, once I hit the oolongs I just couldn't get anything enjoyable into a massive pot of water, so I bought a gaiwan and it was the best decision I ever made! So perhaps giving a gong fu type brew a go might help too :)

Hope your tea improves anyway! :)
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby Misou » Mar 28th, '14, 22:33

My personal experience only here but you comment about oolong and jasmine tea being astringent caught my eye.
I had the same experience when following the label directions for these teas (_from a different vendor).

For me my resolution was two fold...1 definitely try a different vendor. I dont know what quality leaves tevana sells but I do know they are over priced. You might actually get better tea else where for the same money. And different vendors wont have the same source even if the tea has the same name. You might just like another vendors offeing better just bevause it tastes a little different.

2. When I prepared my cheapo wuyi oolong for the first time the flavor was very spinachy and rather weak bodied. But a second steeping brought out more florals and more body. The third more fruits. So I started rinsing the leaf before brewing and that helped. Also my water at work was only 160. The recommended temp is about 195 . More heat increased the body but ruined the sweetness. My sweet spot is now to rinse, then add a tiny amount of water to my brew vessel and let the leaf sit a few seconds. I brew cooler than recommended at about 180 for a 2 minute steep. I also use twice the leaf for the water ratio recommended. all subject to taste of course. But as cheap as my tea is the flavor is quite good now and even "lovely" at least through a few infusions.

The point being is that you really need to play a bit to see what brings out the best in the tea you have. I am no expert but astringent says to me that the water was possibly too hot and or the steep was too long.
If your flavor is insipid and weak a little more heat can help but usually the answer is more leaf.

If you are afraid of wasting tea by using a lot at once let me assure you that it wont happen. More leaf, less water and shorter steep time yeilds a better tasting tea that is smooth and sweet. A bonus is that you can resteep more times from the same leaf so you usually get more servings out of the tea. That oolong could last all day if you are an all day sipper like I am.
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Re: Need some help with tea - not impressed with what I have

Postby chrl42 » Mar 28th, '14, 22:52

I don't like filtered water, they have too low pH. I hear alkaline water (pH over 7) are better with tea brewing (still debatable).

Boiling it increases pH degree, I'd boil the filtered water to maximum, then let it cool for a while, use that to brew tea, the taste is quite satisfying.
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