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Hacker's Guide to Tea (worldoftea.org)
294 points by tony584 on Nov 23, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 128 comments

I tried to start a tea shop/hacker space in SF which failed spectacularly a few months ago. Everyone, don't do retail!

Finding decent tea can be a challenge. Here are a few places to start looking for tea online, and in SF:

http://www.teaspring.com/ -- Chinese Tea.

http://www.redblossomtea.com/ -- Chinese Tea from SF. Fantastic oolong and Dragonwell. Check out their location next time you're in Chinatown.

http://www.runa.org/ -- Guayusa, related to Yerba Mate. The kids building this company are true hackers!

http://www.omshantea.com/ -- A cool tea house in SF (mission). Learn about Pu-erh and Jiaogulan here.

http://www.yunnansourcing.com -- A place to try your luck and buy Pu-erh.

http://www.itoen.com/estore/index.cfm -- Sencha, Gyokuru, Matcha. A solid selection of Japanese Greens.

These places have great herb selections, and will make you realize how much you're overpaying for mid-grade tea: http://www.sfherb.com/ http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/

I also love Korean tea, but don't have a good recommendation on where to get it.

Did you write up a post mortem anywhere? As a tea drinking hacker in SF it would be an interesting read at least.

I took over the Aroma Tea Shop on Polk st for 3 months earlier this year. The biggest stumbling block was the landlord (a trust fund) dragged its feet and eventually denied my sublease application at the end of the 3 months. With a couple friends, we had been operating semi-discreetly during this time, but didn't redo the banner outside and didn't do much marketing.

Since we left, it's been taken over by the boutique next door. They kept the paint job and sandwich board sign we made.

That's about all I've got the energy to rehash-- but if you catch me in person I'll tell you all about the folly of Polk Tea.

And here's some pics:

http://kaimary.tumblr.com/tagged/tea http://kaimary.tumblr.com/tagged/tea/page/2

I think the main problem is that retail can't (usually) move inventory quickly enough in such a coffee-centric nation. That, and tea is cheap to ship, so there are few downsides to buying online.

I've used http://www.specialteas.com and have been quite happy :) Haven't shopped around much, though they've been fresh leaves every time, so I haven't felt the need.

A wonderful place to get high quality greens: http://www.hibiki-an.com/

The best hot water kettle w/ temperature control I've found is: http://www.amazon.com/PINO-ST-8706-Digital-Kettle-Pro/dp/B00...

I've tried every kettle and this one is the best. It's all stainless inside too - water never touches plastic.

Hibiki-an is good, but you really have to try Ippodo. Once you've had Ippodo tea, you really can't go back. They target mostly Japanese consumers, but lately, they have been trying to push for more overseas sales. They've been around since 1717 and were the personal tea purveyors to Prince Yamashita. Try the Tenka-ichi, their top Gyokuro. It's difficult to prepare but completely worth it. https://shop.ippodo-tea.co.jp/shop/en/

If you like a nice deep green tea, but want a really good bang for your buck, then try http://www.tealife.co.jp/drink/32.html which is what a lot of Japanese inns use. $15 for 100 5g tea bags (yes, it's not for purists). Grown in Japan and 95% as good as a much more expensive loose tea. 1 tea bag is good for about a litre of tea. I've tried a lot of different brands and grades of tea, and while I can certainly appreciate the difference in some of the more expensive ones, I have not found any that are anywhere near the value proposition of this for a daily-drinking tea.

Do they have an English website? Or should I just try to figure it out using Google Translate.

Unfortunately their FAQ shows that they don't ship outside of Japan. You'd have to use a buying service like white rabbit express to act as a middleman, and though I don't know how much such services cost, would likely lower the value proposition.

An alternative to a kettle with temperature control is to use a little math to find dilution ratios. It's quick, easy, and works with any kettle to give water of any temperature. See:


> The best hot water kettle w/ temperature control

I'd suggest to forget anything hi-tech when drinking tea. Better go for a small, plain teapot like this one: http://www.everyonestea.com/data/everyonestea/image/ETS/teap...

Could you elaborate on why you think this is better?

Does anyone know where I can buy the PINO Digital Kettle Pro in Europe? Amazon refuses to ship it to my address in Sweden.

You're best bet is to probably contact the manufacturer. They will know which distributors they move product to.

If you'd like to start drinking tea, I heartily recommend the Adagio IngenuiTEA and sample kit to get started. It's dead simple to use and clean, and their teas are really reasonably priced: http://www.adagio.com/gifts/holiday_ingenuiTEA.html?SID=094a...

I'm a giant fan of their Spiced Green and Gunpowder green varieties.

Incidentally, if you're anywhere near Chicago they have a retail store in Naperville where they'll brew up any of their teas for you to try. It's fun.

I get most of my tea from Adagio, but I recommend Golden Moon Tea's starter set: http://www.goldenmoontea.com/gifts/tea-taster-s-sampler-with...

It has 31 single-serving sample teas, and a teacup with a strainer. The quality is reasonable, and the variety is spectacular. After finishing it, you'll know which teas you enjoy. I took notes to remind myself which teas I liked and didn't like, but it was worth it. Plus, I still use the teacup and strainer!

Another vote for Golden Moon here. I have been using them for about 2 years now. Good tea at reasonable prices. Plus when you buy the bigger sizes (once you find the flavors you like in the starter kit) the leftover tins work for random storage containers.

That looks nice. Is the teacup/strainer good? I like that it's ceramic vs the plastic one from Adagio.

Adagio is a great tea shop in general, and tea is particularly well suited to mail order. Their tiny sample tins (usually ~1oz for ~$2) are a great way to try several varieties out.

If you've got a good local tea shop, definitely give them a try though. They should be able to steer you towards varieties you'll really like.

I particularly like lapsang souchong (smoked Chinese black tea), sencha (Japanese green), and Assam (Indian black).

I don't think there is any one source for the best tea of all genres. For example, my favorite lapsang souchong comes from Grace Rare Teas, my favorite dragon well and most of my favorite black teas come from specialteas.com, and my favorite favorite flavored green tea is the pineapple ginger green tea from Republic of Tea.

In general though I recommend specialteas.com, I went through a major tea phase five years ago and they quickly became my favorite web shop. Their organic dragon well is really good, as well as their mount everest blend and their vanilla sunday blend. I also really like mate de coca, which you can now get from Amazon.

Well, I get some good teas from local Korean and Vietnamese grocery stores, but Adagio is a bit more accessible for most people here. :)

Roasted barley tea* (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mugi-cha) can be pretty good, too, both hot and iced. Korean markets often have big sacks of roasted barley for cheap. The roasted corn tea is also good.

* Not really a tea, it's...roasted barley. Surprise surprise.

Yerba mate is also good, but deserves a completely separate top-level post.

If you like mate then stop by The Mate Factor if you're ever in Ithaca. It's run by a cult whose religion somehow requires them to make the best mate in the world. You have to be part of the religion to work there, so I was seriously thinking about converting for a couple months just to learn how to make some of their drinks and food items.

A friend got us a gourd, bombilla, and a big canister of yerba mate from "somewhere in Ithaca" as a wedding gift. Yes indeed.

It's worth pointing out that their website is very well done, especially the reordering process. Once you establish some favorites, it's a breeze to access previous orders and replenish the cupboard.

I'm also a pretty consistent Adagio customer. Lapsang is my favorite by far. I wish Adagio's was just a tad bit stronger, though. Even with longer steep times (5-6 minutes) I don't quite get the smoky pungency I recall years ago when I had some loose Twinings Lapsang...

IngenuiTEA is a great way to do it. or you can MacGyver it and just strain the leaves with a cheap strainer. Their Naperville shop is great.

That's exactly what I've been looking for. My dad always brews his own tea, and he makes like 4-5 cups and then when the tea gets cold he microwaves it in a glass (yeah, not a cup, he's Iranian). Anyway, this is much simpler, I'm lazy and I don't want to brew tea, the cleaning and everything involved takes too much time, so I just use teabags. This seems so much better than teabags since I can use higher quality tea.

Seconded on the IngenuiTEA and also their hot water kettle (utiliTEA).

My favorite tea there doesn't get a high rating but I've had a pound of it in the last year and still love it. Green Anji: http://www.adagio.com/green/green_anji.html?SID=531a74998702...

Their masala chai and wuyi ensemble are also both really good.

Being in the UK, I typically enjoy a substantial amount of tea during the day. None of that poncy herbal tea though - stricly strong white tea.

The British Armed Forces are supplied with a particular brand of tea from NAAFI (http://www.ringtons.co.uk/shop/tea/naafi-tea), which is now available to the public too. I had it described to me by an ex-forces friend that 'it's a tea to clean your gun with', but I actually find it to be one of the heartiest and warming drinks I've had.

Supposedly sell it in Spar too.

Maybe it's just me, but maybe a "hacker's guide" to tea shouldn't contain wild speculation on the health benefits of matcha.

And since everyone seems to be dropping recommendations for tea shops, then I'll say I get my tea from Marketspice in Seattle, though you have to fight your way through swarms of tourists to get there.

This is a better guide to tea drinking, at least the British way of tea drinking:


Gotta have some milk in your tea. ☺

Not in green tea! It really depends on the variety.

Vanilla sugar can be nice, though, as is caramelizing sugar in a pot and then whisking hot milk into it, then mixing that with flavored/spiced black teas (masala chai, etc.).

I absent-mindedly put a drop of cream in some green tea once, and found it an interesting variation and not bad at all!

yeah, green tea ice cream is great as well and contains lots of milk (and sugar).

I read a study that said that adding milk negates essentially all of the antioxidant benefits of tea...

(I'm not sure if it's true, and I don't add milk to my tea anyway...)

You're correct, I remember reading a study on that too. The exceptionally misleading thing was that Vitamin D is essentially a super antioxidant. Not only does vitamin D act as an antioxidant in superior ways to all the antioxidants in tea, but it boosts the immune system notably in its ability to respond to cancerous/pre-cancerous cells.

Yes you're blocking the antioxidant benefits of tea because you're consuming a much more potent antioxidant and immuno-booster.

Not to mention milk contains vitamin A B's C (D) K, Biotin, Calcium, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk#Cow.27s_milk It's got good things that I haven't even heard of before.

If you regularly drink milk, then you might as well drink tea without it to get an additional source of antioxidants. If you don't drink milk regularly then put it in your goddamn tea because it is frikin godly.

yeah, I wasn't quite going towards the British way of tea. I was aiming for a bit further back in history to the basic Chinese and Japanese principles of tea - but that's a great guide too!

>If you are drinking something that did not come from this plant (chamomile, mint, tulsi, rooibos, etc) it is not tea).

I hear this every once in awhile and at best it's pedantic and at worst it's just wrong. What do you call chamomile tea? An infusion? Even if it is technically wrong everybody calls infusions "tea" and I think it's safe to argue that the word has evolved beyond the original meaning.

Corruption of the English language aside, chamomile or mint infusions are no more "teas" than they are "coffees". They're all just plant stuff steeped in water, but the flavors and cultures involved vary dramatically.

I'm normally pretty liberal about language but it bugs me to have to specify a latin species name, or "tea made from tea" to make it clear what I'm drinking. Although phrases like "green tea" or "black tea" are widely-understood and fairly unambiguous in situations where one can be more specific, there isn't a good way to refer to the entire class of beverages made from only that plant.

"Tisane" is technically correct, though outside of a tea shop I don't think it matters that much. When it's not clear from context, I just say "herbal tea".

I say the same, but technically I'm not sure it's any better as tea is an herbal tea, but not all herbal tea's are teas... Ok, I'll stop.

It's the same as people calling tomatoes vegetables - technically wrong and no one cares.

"Vegetable" is a culinary distinction for plant matter eaten at dinner; tomatoes are vegetables. "Fruit" is a biological distinction for plant matter that contains seeds within an edible shell; tomatoes are fruits.

Tomatoes ARE vegetables. They are also fruits. The noun "vegetable" doesn't have a strict definition and tomatoes fall into that classification.

Botanically speaking they are berries.

If you're a tea person like me and you've read Lu Yu's Tea Classics (茶經) before, you'll appreciate good tea.

The one that I usually purchase is from Japan--and it is now orderable online, including to overseas addresses. The tea purveyor is IPPODO (一保堂) and their gyokuro (玉露) is some of the best. IPPODO has been around since 1717, so they are likely to have a good idea, especially since they have supplied tea to the Japanese king.

Gyokuro is a pleasant tea because its flavors are so subtle that it's not like any green tea you've had. Theirs is very light yet sweet and full-bodied. IPPODO's gyokuro, in particularly their Below Heaven tea (天下一) or Tenka-ichi, has a savory flavor that almost tastes a bit like nori.

https://shop.ippodo-tea.co.jp/shop/en/ http://www.ippodo-tea.co.jp/

Here's what a can of Tenka-ichi looks like: https://shop.ippodo-tea.co.jp/shop/en/images/goods/g00010217...

Beautiful. And if you have 70,000 yen or $840 US to burn: https://shop.ippodo-tea.co.jp/shop/en/images/goods/g00010294...

The true principles of tea-drinking were enumerated (there are eleven) and explicated in antiquity (defined as the golden time before my birth) by renowned tea expert George Orwell. I can personally attest to the veracity of Mr. Orwell's first principle; namely, that one ought to drink only Indian or Ceylonese tea, on the grounds that "one does not feel wiser, braver, or more optimistic after drinking" the Chinese variety. (It was after a nice cup of uplifting Indian tea that Orwell bravely and wisely wrote the optimistic 1984.)


I'm off the tea habit now, but the best investment I made was getting a variable-temperature water kettle. Just set the temp and let it worry about getting it right. Plus it keeps the water at that temp all day long -- no screwing around with pots and kettles and such for your third cup.

I also took a great liking to white tea: expensive but worth it (in my opinion). At first I really liked the heavier oxidized teas, but I found that my tastes went greener and greener the more I experimented.

Drinking tea is a wonderful habit, and it's good for you too. I had to quit for a while because of the caffeine. While less than coffee, I found it still messed up my system.

These kettles that keep water hot all day long seem very wasteful to me.

That said, does anyone know if it takes more electricity to reheat water than to maintain it at a given temperature?

Partly anecdotally and partly empirically: I have a Wattvision thingy on my meter, I use an electric kettle, and I cook lots of things sous vide (in water baths held between 130-160f for very long times). It appears to take drastically less energy to have a rice cooker keep 120 ounces of water at 150f for hours on end than it does to bring a kettle of water to a boil.

This makes sense to me. Watch the sous vide PID controller govern the rice cooker; it's only switched on for a fraction of a second every 10 seconds or so.

Water also has a high specific heat.

I looked into it when I bought one, and if I remember correctly a modern highly-insulated kettle uses much less power keeping water warm for 8 hours than constantly heating cold water. Of course, part of that equation is how many cups of tea you drink. And how hot you keep your water. Since I'm a white tea drinker, I keep my kettle on a low setting. I get much better results with a lower setting and a longer steep. (Part of the fun here is trying different teas, temps, and steep times)

    That said, does anyone know if it takes more electricity 
    to reheat water than to maintain it at a given temperature?
How long is a piece of string? It depends on how quickly your kettle loses heat, how warm the room is, and how long the interval between pours is. I have a generic Japanese thermos kettle, with vacuum insulated walls, so it holds heat fairly well.

It should be pretty easy to figure out precisely what the tradeoff point is with a datalogger and a thermocouple and some math, or a clamp ammeter and slightly less math.

Did you try getting into rooibos?

Hm, I have to disagree with the steeping chart for green tea (after having been doing it that way for 12 years).

Recently, I got some medium/high quality Sencha at my favorite place Ten Ren down in Chinatown.

Lessons learned from their main man:

0. Never use boiling water, but instead around 80-85 degree Celsius (okay, that seems to be common sense) 1. If the quality of the tea is so-so, discharge the first steep after 1-2 seconds. High-grade tea needs no cleaning. This step gets rid of the dust and ensures a clear color. 2. First steeping for maximum 1 minute 30 seconds. 3. Second steeping for only about 40 (!) seconds. 4. Third steeping for about 50 seconds.

> my favorite place Ten Ren down in Chinatown.

Ten Ren is awesome - friendly folks who also educated me about how to prepare tea and let me know that you could steep it multiple times (which was news to me at the time since I only steeped once and then threw out the leaves).

Having since moved to Southern CA, I visit their store in Monterrey Park. Good folks still, but I miss the charm of the Chinatown store.

Yes, agreed. They're very friendly and humble. The quality of their teas speaks for itself. I didn't know they had one in CA! A good tea dealer is worth so much win.

Oh, for clarification: "after having been doing it that way for 12 years" means, I did it wrong for 12 years!

The above described method has proven itself to be superior to what I was doing before.

Great resource for tea beginners and experts alike: http://steepster.com

Discover new teas, get recommendations, and keep a tasting journal.

Disclosure: I'm a co-founder.

If you ever go to Japan make sure to try Matcha, it consists of very finely ground green tea leaves.

And seems to be very difficult to prepare! I brought some back to the UK, that I'll have to try out soon :)


One other thing I found pretty cool, in a Cafe, they would bring a sand timer, to tell you when the tea in the teapot had brewed.

If you're interested in the focusing-increasing benefits of L-Theanine, Gyokuro, Matcha, and Silver Needle are all good teas to drink.

I get my Gyokuro & Matcha from http://hibiki-an.com/

Silver Needle I had a harder time finding, but I got them from http://chicagoteagarden.com/, the tea shop of the OP.

Incidentally, they're both delicious.

My group tends to drink yerba maté: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_maté

You might be interested to know that the accent on maté is a hyperforeignism. In Spanish, the drink is just yerba mate. The (nonexistent) word maté would be pronounced "mah-TEH", whereas mate is pronounced "MAH-teh"; presumably the erroneous diacritic was added to keep people from rhyming it with fate.

I just realized that maté does exist in Spanish: it means "I killed"—all the more reason to use mate instead. :-)

I've been sampling a wide variety of teas over the past few years, and wrote up a page describing flavors and steeping time, which is a little more detailed (but not as broad) as the article: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~prewett/archive/tea/tea.h...

Neat article. For those like me that struggle getting 170 degree water for green tea, I found a good trick which is to just put an ice cube on top of the tea, and pour the hot water on top of that. That prevents singeing the leaves that can kill a nice cup of green tea. I find it a lot more reproducible than 'waiting longer than a minute'.

A good trick is to listen to the water boiling. At around 180°F the water starts bubbling and dancing, gets a bit agitated and might make a resonant sound in your kettle. I suggest using a thermometer and getting to know how the water sounds at different temperatures.

Best place to buy tea: http://uptontea.com/ Top notch quality, and they put out a really good paper catalog describing all their hundreds of teas quarterly.

When I boil water in an open pot, I can usually recognize the different temperatures by the way the water shimmers, the size of the bubbles, etc. Do that a couple times with a thermometer, and you can probably eyeball it from there.

I've heard the stages of boiling referred to as "dragon eyes", "fish eyes", etc. See e.g. http://www.veetea.com/site/articles/Water-Temperatures/ .

That said, my wife and I got an electric teakettle with a temperature setting as a wedding gift, and we love it. That's another option. (This one, or a similar model: http://www.amazon.com/Choice-SmartKettle-Cordless-4-Quart-El... )

I heard that you should boil the water first, and then let it cool down. The listening method only works when you don't boil it, but go to the desired temperature without a detour.

Another vote for Upton Tea. Great place.

Get a good meat thermometer. I found one at my grocery store that has a little needle and is accurate to within about a degree.

Get a variable temperature water kettle, they are totally worth it. utiliTea from adagio is my favorite but I'd grab it on amazon for the best price.

Try adding a few crushed cardamom pods to a pot of black tea, they add a fantastic flavor. Milk is of course required.

Also: cinnamon and peppercorns. And, heating the spices in the milk (perhaps an even mix of whole milk and water) infuses the flavors better. (Half-and-half or heavy cream, if you're making chai ice cream. :) )

Star anise and licorice root also make good herbal teas.

Or a few mint leaves for a soothing flavor...

Try a pinch of lavender for a refreshing variation.

I didn't know about L-theanine; this goes a long way towards explaining why I feel like tea helps me "stay awake" for longer, compared to coffee which seems to fail me after about a half hour, despite it usually having more caffeine.

Great article. We love the tea here in Northern Ireland, and our impression is that most off-the-shelf bagged tea here is of very high quality in comparison to the US. We're drinking lots of 'Punjana' these days.

The problems I, as an Irishman, have when visiting the US are (1) frequently a kettle isn't available, and instead, in offices, you often have a supply of "hot" water at perhaps 95C, which isn't hot enough for good tea, or you have to jerry-rig something out of a coffeemaker with similar issues only even more tepid; and (2) American tea bags average about 2g of tea leaves each compared with an average of 3.125g in UK / Irish tea bags.

So these days, I bring a travel kettle with me, and usually my own supply of tea. If I must use tea bought locally, I use twice the regular amount to compensate.

When I moved to the US from the UK a decade ago, I went to the shops to kit out my apartment and fondly imagined that the country that put men on the moon and invented the internet would have some kind of amazing high-tech laser-powered robot super-kettle. I was disappointed when the only kettle I could get looked like something from the 1970's.

Should have gone to Japan.

I could be wrong, but I think part of the reason electric kettles haven't caught on big in the US is the lower voltage. One of the first things that caught my attention over here (Northern Ireland) was that the kettles boil so fast. It's incredibly convient.

Not bad, but would be better with temperatures indicated in reasonable units :)

A reasonable unit of temperature begins at 0K and makes the numeric value of the Boltzmann constant 1.

If I did my math right, that would make the best temperature for steeping a green tea somewhere around 2.63E25 degrees.

That'll be 26.3 yotta-degree.

I like Earl Grey with milk and honey. Does that make me a pragmatic…kettler?

I wouldn't drink Earl Grey with milk. Earl Grey has a strong perfumed aroma from the bergamot orange; I might add lemon to it, but not milk. Milk goes best with strongly steeped black tea because it takes an edge off the bitterness.

As if there aren't enough suggestions on where to buy tea, I get all mine through SevenCups (http://www.sevencups.com/) and TeaSpring (http://teaspring.com/). Both companies are excellent. SevenCups has a few very nice sampler packs.

I've been kind of annoyed how long TeaSpring has been out of Bai Mu Dan, though. It's is incredible. They specialize in Chinese tea. So if that's your thing, check them out.

In 1980 the British Standards Group produced a document, Method for Preparation of a Liquor of Tea, setting out the British Standard method of tea brewing. This was BS 6008:1980.

ISO Technical Committee 34 (Food products), Sub-Committee 8 (Tea) later created ISO 3103 from this.

You can see the documented process at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BS_6008

It's an interesting read and won the Ig Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

It's technically true that tea is only made from the camellia sinensis plant, but you can get the same experience from other "hot, tea-like drinks" as well such as Herbal and Rooibos "teas".

Please take a look at http://www.theteafinder.com. It's a tea search engine that I made after getting motivated reading HN a few weeks ago! You can search for tea by flavor and health benefit.

Would love feedback from other tea-drinking hackers.

> but you can get the same experience from other "hot, tea-like drinks" as well such as Herbal and Rooibos "teas".

I wouldn't call it the same experience. Herbal teas and Rooibos are fine in their own rights, but not as substitutes for the camellia sinensis plant.

Try stinging nettle. It's awesome.

Wonderful! We have a large lush growth of Stinging Nettle behind our barn every summer. I'm looking forward to brewing some up next year.

The taste varies quite a lot between dried and fresh nettle. I like dried better, but you should try both.

If you are into nettles, there's also the world nettle eating championships in Dorset.

http://www.hibiki-an.com is where I get most of my tea (Japanese green tea only). Shipping from Japan to Europe takes about a week to arrive. http://www.nbtea.co.uk in the UK is also a good place for tea (various types from various locations) but I still thingk Hibiki-an's tea better quality.

Does anyone know a good UK (or EU) based tea supplier?

Have these in my bookmarks, haven't tried them yet http://jingtea.com/ http://www.cantonteaco.com

Brilliant, thanks. Jing Tea looks like a winner, I'll give them a try and let you know. :)

I'll second both of those UK companies. Jing has great stuff (a little pricier) and I've personally worked with the people behind Canton Tea Co.

BTW I'm also a founder of Steepster

http://www.harney.com/ Harney and Sons is my favorite.

I love their english breakfast and their earl gray.

Their chocolate tea: http://www.harney.com/Chocolate-Tea-Loose-tea-by-the-pound/p... Is is delicious, but man does it raise your heart rate!

If you're ever in Boulder, the Celestial Seasonings factory tour is worth checking out: http://www.celestialseasonings.com/visit-us/free-tours.html The Peppermint Room will clear your sinuses for a week.

Anyone have other tea factory tours they'd recommend?

I would recommend The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo. It's a great introduction to eastern culture for westerners taking tea as link and guide. Despite it was published in 1906 it's interestingly both actual and dated.


If you want to watch a great documentary about tea growing and making check out All in This Tea.



'The more oxidized the tea leaves are, the hotter the water temperature should be when steeping'.

The author assumes his readers do not know that white, green and other teas differ from each other thanks to their processing but assumes they do know the oxidation level of the tea they are about to brew.

Caffeine is very soluble. You can quickly decaffenate tea by "rinsing" it, or more accurately, throwing away the first, short, steeping.

In other words, if you want to remove the caffeine, leave your teabag in 1/2 a cup of water for 30-60 seconds, dump out the water and then you are good to go.

I mostly buy from Adagio, but have also found some great teas through Harney & Sons (http://www.harney.com) and Teas Etc. (http://www.teasetc.com).

If you're interested in white tea (and you should be from a health benefits perspective), check out the teas at www.shangtea.com - they ship it and it's a family run business with a family farm in the mts in China. All organic and delightful.

Here's a good short piece on tea drinking from the Obsessives series by Chow.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9zT5VZKHI0

For those interested:


and there are supplements available if you don't want to give up coffee.

I like to start each day with coffee and then move to tea. So I get the jolt in the morning, then the sustained tea high the rest of the day.

L-Theanine is a surprisingly under-appreciated nootropic. If you buy it as a bulk powder, it's quite cheap.

Good Japanese green tea (senchas, matcha, etc.) seem to be particularly high in theanine. It contributes quite a bit of flavor to the tea.

I'd agree with theanine being under-appreciated. I used to drink a ton of tea - no problems, nice stimulant. So when I decided to mix & cap all my supplements and drop the whole tea thing (more work than a pill and not especially portable), I simply bought a few hundred grams of caffeine.

What could go wrong? Caffeine was what I was getting from the tea, right? Turns out caffeine alone makes me somewhat twitchy & anxious and is distinctly inferior to tea (caffeine+theanine). If I could cap them again, I'd definitely make sure to add in theanine.

If you're in Canada, you might want to check out http://www.teaopia.ca/

I just stumbled on their store in Ottawa, and it seems pretty great!

Also, if you're looking for the PINO Digital Pro kettle in Canada, this place has it: http://www.49thparallelroasters.com/storeAccessories.html

Amazon.com will ship here, but I'm not sure what kind of import duties that would mean...

Found another store for Canadians: http://www.davidstea.com/

They seem to carry a lot of varieties of high-grade stuff (though I haven't bought anything from there yet, so it's just my first impression).

If anyone's still reading this thread and looking for resources, I found another site from Japan that sells what seems to be quality green tea (haven't ordered from them yet, though):


Jing tea are great - http://jingtea.com/

Their 'tea explorer' set is a nice introduction to various types of tea from around the world.

For those in the US Den's Tea offers great Japanese teas. http://www.denstea.com

I always start my day with a hot cup of pu-erh or jiaogulan. It is said both has cleansing effect for the digestive system.

A lot of information packed into a clear post for new to tea drinkers, thanks

I loved drinking tea, but I recently stopped when I found out that green and black tea have a large amount of Fluoride, highly toxic to the human body. I drink just hot water, or one tea bag split between a whole tea pot, or coffee.

Edited: Fluoride is NOT a heavy metal. and spelling

Citation please. Assuming you meant Fluoride: it's neither heavy nor a metal.

Yeah I screwed up, Fluoride (the correct spelling), which is a form of the ELEMENT Fluorine IS NOT a heavy metal like I confusingly thought.

But a simple google search will show you that Fluoride is highly concentrated in black and green tea.

Ah, yes... come to the dark side (of coffee). We have cookies! :-)

Coffee is also healthy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_coffee

Fluoride is mentioned on Wikipedia, but was new to me. No details. Is this new?


That wikipedia entry is useless, there's numbers but not the numbers anyone actually would need.

This seems a little more useful: http://toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Fluoride+Content+in+T...

Apparently tea can have up to ~10x as high a Fluoride concentration as municipal drinking water.

Also, there seems to be a case of a woman who developed bone fluorosis after consuming several gallons of double strength instant tea a day for a considerable time.

So potentially it could be a concern but in practical terms it's unlikely to be a problem. If you're concerned I'd study which teas have the highest Fluoride levels (it's dependent on region and type of tea), determine whether your municipal tap water is also Fluoridated, and crunch some numbers to make sure you're nowhere near unsafe Fluoride consumption levels.

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