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:
I also love Korean tea, but don't have a good recommendation on where to get it.
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:
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.
The best hot water kettle w/ temperature control I've found is:
I've tried every kettle and this one is the best. It's all stainless inside too - water never touches plastic.
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...
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'm not sure if it's true, and I don't add milk to my tea anyway...)
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.
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.
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.
It's the same as people calling tomatoes vegetables - technically wrong and no one cares.
Botanically speaking they are berries.
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.
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.
That said, does anyone know if it takes more electricity to reheat water than to maintain it at a given temperature?
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.
That said, does anyone know if it takes more electricity
to reheat water than to maintain it at a given temperature?
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.
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.
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.
The above described method has proven itself to be superior to what I was doing before.
Discover new teas, get recommendations, and keep a tasting journal.
Disclosure: I'm a co-founder.
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.
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.
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.
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... )
Star anise and licorice root also make good herbal teas.
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.
Should have gone to Japan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are into nettles, there's also the world nettle eating championships in Dorset.
BTW I'm also a founder of Steepster
I love their english breakfast and their earl gray.
Their chocolate tea:
Is is delicious, but man does it raise your heart rate!
Anyone have other tea factory tours they'd recommend?
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.
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.
and there are supplements available if you don't want to give up coffee.
Good Japanese green tea (senchas, matcha, etc.) seem to be particularly high in theanine. It contributes quite a bit of flavor to the tea.
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.
I just stumbled on their store in Ottawa, and it seems pretty great!
Amazon.com will ship here, but I'm not sure what kind of import duties that would mean...
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).
Their 'tea explorer' set is a nice introduction to various types of tea from around the world.
Edited: Fluoride is NOT a heavy metal. and spelling
But a simple google search will show you that Fluoride is highly concentrated in black and green tea.
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?
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.