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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

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Thursday October 5, 2000 -- 12:55:07AM
I decided to go all out this past weekend when I stopped by my favorite Northern Virginia tea store... I bought a bit of the $128/lb. Japanese Kygoku (sp?) green tea. I only bought an ounce, but it $8... now that may sound like a lot, but I was told by the shop owners that you can brew six cups of tea with one serving. So while it is definitely "expensive tea," it evens out a bit when you consider how much cups of it you can get.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Thursday October 5, 2000 -- 1:07:48PM
Yes, Ryan, we believe that was an ounce of "tea" you bought. Wink wink...

DATE: Friday October 6, 2000 -- 7:43:13AM
There are actually tea stores around here? I've never seen one... Are you sure it wasn't your favorite Northern Virginia crack house?

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Friday October 6, 2000 -- 8:55:50AM
Robert -- You're on to me. :) Nothing like a good cup of ganja tea in the morning.

Rob -- Well, you're the expert on crackhouses, but there are at least two good tea places in the area. Coffee Caboodle in Vienna (they offer you cider or coffee when you walk in the door) and there's a tea/coffee place in Leesburg as well that's quite nice (they grind their own coffee, but their tea selection is a little more modest).

FROM: Robert
DATE: Friday October 6, 2000 -- 9:07:54AM
Ryan--There's a fancy new tea place on Caroline St in Fredericksburg. I've never been in there (they're closed on Mondays and those were the only days I ever remembered to try it out) so I don't know if it's more of a tea seller or a tea sipper joint. Either way, I love me some tea and buttered scones. OK, I've never had a buttered scone.

DATE: Friday October 6, 2000 -- 10:12:46AM
Of course I'm the expert on crackhouses. Gotta make a living somehow.

Going to Vienna or Leesburg is too far. They need to put one right here. ;) I don't remember where the heck I was, but there was some fancy little place that did high tea. It was expensive, but it'd be cool to do. All their tea stuff was antiques, too. It was too late in the day when I was there and they were closed, though.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Friday October 6, 2000 -- 3:49:40PM
Robert -- Was this place, by any chance, called Tea Tyme & What Nots?

FROM: Robert
DATE: Friday October 6, 2000 -- 4:35:46PM
Ryan--Uh, yes?

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Saturday October 7, 2000 -- 10:30:29PM
Just checking, Robert... I came across the tea place listed on the web and just wanted to see if it was the same one you were talking about.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday December 13, 2000 -- 4:29:57PM
Just ran across a great little article about tea online on Yahoo! Internet Life. Scary thing is, I understood almost all the "tea snob" references that were thrown in...

FROM: Robert
DATE: Thursday December 14, 2000 -- 6:45:14PM
I got my eye on you, MacMichael! If you start smoking a pipe and wearing an ascot, I'm calling the deprogrammers.

On a related note, I'm sipping some Honest Tea Black Forest Berry right now. Num-num!

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 2:10:45 pm

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 2:11:32 pm

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