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February 15th, 2000

Tea Time

As some of you may know, over the last few years I’ve become something of a tea addict. Though I don’t consider myself amongst the ranks of the “upper-class tea drinkers” (the kind usually over at that can tell the difference between tea that’s $45 for a 1/4 pound and $12/pound, I do hope I eventually develop the sophisticated palette that can fully appreciate the finer teas.

In any event, I have developed a semi-picky taste, proving that, eventually, one day I’ll snub anyone who drinks tea brewed from a bag. Here are some of the teas I particularly like.

  • Sow Mee White Tea: Probably my favorite tea, this is an extremely subtle tasting tea. White tea is very light in color and at first seems like slightly flavored hot water, but I’ve gotten to the point where I really appreciate the light taste and feel of this Chinese delight.
  • Green Tea: There are so many kinds of green tea that I don’t even know where to start — mainly because I can’t yet tell the difference between strains. Generally I just opt for Foojoy green tea in bags — it’s cheap, nicely flavored, and still provides all the antioxident benefits of the more expensive green tea. Of the loose green tea I’ve tried, I like the somewhat-strong Tra Man Sen brand.
  • Pu-Erh: I’ve been told this is an acquired taste, but I’ve liked it from the first time I’ve tried it. It’s a very dark tea with an extremely earthy flavor that’s too heavy for many. However, it works wonderfully as a digestive aid after a heavy meal, especially when you don’t have any fennel on hand.
  • Lichee Black Tea: Talk about strong teas! This tea tastes nothing like the lychee fruits or longans that I’ve had, but it stands well on it’s own. This is a great Monday morning kick-in-the-mouth that’s quite flavorful and smells wonderful.
  • South Indian “Tiger Hill”: I just got some of this tea recently since I was in the mood for something different. This tea has an aroma like no other when it’s steeping — absolutely unreal. The taste is quite good, though much different than the smell.
  • Red Rose: Of all the supermarket-brand bagged teas, this is by-and-far the best. Lots of the uppity tea drinkers won’t touch Lipton (they refer to it as “floor sweepings in a teabag”), and quite frankly, I dislike Lipton, too (and Tetley even more), but Red Rose’s black and orange pekoe is quite good for a quick tea fix.
I’ve tried quite a few other teas that I may touch on in the future, but the ones above are what have been in my mug over the last few months. I can honestly say that the only tea I’ve tried that I absolutely could not drink was hot Thai tea — a very thick, sweet, radioactive-orange drink. Oddly, I tried the iced version a couple weeks back and really enjoyed it!

A few good tea resources on the web:

  • Tea-Disc Discussion List: A low-traffic list with under a hundred members discussing tea (a fair amount of reviews here). Seems like a nice bunch of folks.
  • Lots of good information here. I have had a few of my “simpleton” questions ignored here, but others have been answered in a friendly fashion. I’m still trying to decide what to make of this newsgroup. 🙂
  • FAQ: The FAQ for the aforementioned newsgroup. A very good read. Updated frequently.
  • Adagio Teas: Relatively new, friendly online tea shop. Lots of good opportunities to sample some of the finer teas without spending too much. My online tea-buying experience is limited (I generally buy my tea in Asian markets or specialty shops), so I don’t know yet how well this store stacks up to other popular vendors like Capital Tea. Adagio also offer a neat little “TeaTime” application to help you make sure you brew your tea the correct length of time.
  • Tea Page: A good overview of tea resources on the Web. Maintained by the same fellow that hosts the FAQ.

Posted in Food and Beverage

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