Author Topic: Making tea.  (Read 1464 times)

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Frostblooded

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Making tea.
« on: November 14, 2011, 08:20:25 AM »
I've finally quit soda entirely. Trying to lose some weight and change my habits, basically. I can't be drinking sugary fruit juice all day, and I absolutely hate water, so I only drink as much as required. My doctor recommended picking up tea as a habit, preferably green tea. I've always found the taste deplorable, myself, and am wary but willing to try now that I'm older and have different tastes! (Twenty-five.)

I've never had the opportunity to try Earl Grey, even though everyone raves about it. I'm from the South, so iced tea is a big hit here, and I absolutely love my gran's iced tea. I just can never seem to replicate the way she does it, ergh! I'm not very big on hot tea, but as I said, I'm willing to give it a try -- especially since we're going into the winter season here soon.

Tea-drinkers, what's the best way that you've found to produce a good cup of tea? Iced or hot? I'm on a budget at the moment, so I can't go too far out. I have no idea whether to try a stove or electric kettle for hot tea, or even how to make the right cup or what to add. Basically, I'm a tea noob! Give a tea noob a few tips?

cicero

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2011, 08:40:57 AM »
i really dislike green tea. i drink black tea once in a blue moon. i'm more of a coffee lover.

If i want to drink tea, i prefer the herbal teas - most of them are healthy (or at least not harmful). I usually buy in bulk because it comes out way cheaper but not sure if that option is available where you live. think about fruit and herbs that you like and buy a few to sample. many tea companies actually have 'sampler' selections so that will give you a chance to sample. don't read into the "sleeper's companion" or "nerve relaxer" claims - they're not really accurate. yes, some herbs and spices are more calming and some are "hot" but the teas don't really do much in that respect.

So, if you love cinammon, then try something with that spice in it. or ginger, etc.  herbs with lemon are usually good too. I don't like the 'flower' flavors. i love the chai selections. but of course, to each his/her own.

I use an electric kettle because that's what is common in this country. i don't even own a stove top kettle. I boil the water, pour a little into a small teapot, swish, spill it out, then put in the leaves/herbs, cover with water and let it stand for about 5 minutes. then i pour that into a glass and top with fresh boiled water if needed.

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camlan

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2011, 08:47:55 AM »
To make a good cup of tea, you need boiling water and tea.

First, the boiling water. You can boil water in a pan on the stove, a kettle on the stove, or an electric kettle. All will work just fine. I use an electric kettle (cost about $25) because it is more energy efficient than a pan or kettle on the stove, it heats the water faster and I can keep it on the counter near the sink, so no carrying a heavy kettle from sink to stove. But the main thing is to get your water boiling.

Second, the tea. In the US, not everything called "tea" contains actual tea. There are an awful lot of herbal teas, or tisanes (to use the correct term) out there on the supermarket shelves. If you aren't looking for caffeine and you don't like the taste of real tea, do explore all the herbal and fruit flavored infusions out there. Real tea breaks down into two main categories, black teas and green teas. Green teas have a milder flavor and less caffeine. Both come regular or with other flavors added. Earl Grey tea has oil of bergomot, which is a citrus flavor. You can buy tea loose or in bags. To start with, I'd get the tea bags, as it is a simpler process.

I'd start by finding a plain green tea and a plain black tea--buy the smallest amount that you can of each. The main brands of black tea in the US are Lipton (which some people find very strong), Red Rose (my personal favorite) and Salada.

Then experiment. Get your mug or cup ready, and boil some water. Put the tea bag in the mug. Pour the boiling water over the tea bag until the mug is full. For starters, I'd let the tea steep (that's the official word for "sit in hot water") for three minutes. The longer you steep the tea, the stronger the flavor and, up to a point, the more caffeine you will get. Most people find that somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes gets them a good cup of tea. (I'm basing this on a standard coffee mug, say about 10-12 ounces. If you are using a tiny tea cup, reduce the time a bit.)

Then sip the tea, letting it cool off to a comfortable point first. Then try a drop or two of milk and if you like, a bit of sugar. It's now up to you how you fix your tea--I drink mine with no milk or sugar, my sister has a tiny bit of sugar and a lot of milk, a good friend uses sugar and lemon. Just like coffee, everyone has their own preference. If your grandmother's iced tea is very sweet, you might prefer a lot of sugar in yours.

If you find you really don't like the taste of tea, try herbal teas. There are fruit flavors, mint flavors and herbal flavors. Pick a flavor you like and experiment.

Do read whatever's on the box the tea comes in. Frequently you will find suggested steeping times, or they will tell you that this particular tea is good with lemon, say, instead of milk. And there may be instructions on how to make iced tea (I don't drink iced tea, so I can't help you there).
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cicero

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2011, 08:54:05 AM »
I've finally quit soda entirely. Trying to lose some weight and change my habits, basically. I can't be drinking sugary fruit juice all day, and I absolutely hate water, so I only drink as much as required. My doctor recommended picking up tea as a habit, preferably green tea. I've always found the taste deplorable, myself, and am wary but willing to try now that I'm older and have different tastes! (Twenty-five.)


and one more thing - i know it's a big step for you since you have been (apparently ) guzzling a lot of sugary fruit juice. but try not to hate water ;D, it's really the best habit to get into. Try to jazz it up a bit (add a few sprigs of mint leaves and or a few lemon slices; serve it over ice in a nice tall glass and drink with a straw; invest in some good quality fruit essence and add a drop; etc) to make it more fun but --- give it a try. habits *can* be changed. i used to drink coffee with 3-4 teaspoons of sugar. yup. about 6 cups a day. yup. i used to drink coke (not all the time but often enuf). i now drink only water, 1-2 cups sugarless coffee a day, and occassionally herbal tea.

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mrs_deb

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2011, 09:04:55 AM »
I drink iced tea pretty much exclusively so go through a lot of it.  As a result, I want it to be quick and easy. 

I have a ~2 quart glass jug with a lid.  I tie together 5 teabags (4 regular and 1 vanilla chai...yum), pull off the tags, drop them in the jug, fill it up with cold water, cover it, and stick it out in the sun for a few hours.  Bring inside and drink over ice.  No sugar.  Maybe some lemon.

On miserable overcast days, I pour hot water over the teabags and leave it on the counter.

Note to my real tea drinker friends...I am much more fussy with hot tea, really  ;D.

O'Dell

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2011, 09:34:22 AM »
Have you tried any fruit flavored green teas? Lipton makes some. I'm not keen on plain green tea, but I'll drink these.

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mechtilde

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2011, 09:42:39 AM »
You've got some excellent ideas so far. I'd just add that if you do drink black teas, then try a selection as they vary considerably in terms of strength and depth of flavour. I find that Chinese teas such as Lapsang Souchong are nicest served weak without anything added, whereas Indian teas like Assam are better strong with a dash of milk. Add sugar if you like, and then consider reducing it slowly or using sweeteners as sugar from multiple cups of tea can add up.

I'm not really familiar with iced teas, so I can't really comment.
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Miriam

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2011, 01:04:15 PM »
There's soo many wonderful flavors out there. So far my favorite has been chai with some skim milk in it. My sister drinks earl gray with honey or agave nectar. Since it's becoming the holidays some special flavors have been coming out. I grow mint leaves so sometimes I just boil hot water with mint and honey (tastes just like the tea version).
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jmarvellous

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2011, 01:19:45 PM »
I'd suggest something like a Celestial Seasonings sampler pack if you want to get started on herbal teas (which are usually good without sugar or milk even if you're used to sweet beverages) for less (a pack with 3-5 flavors and about 3 bags of each runs around $3, so way cheaper than pop, too). I like mint tea a LOT, and things like raspberry, peach, lemon/lemongrass and apple cider 'tea' are excellent if you're used to juices.

 Chai is good for black tea if straight black tea is too bitter or boring for you (tastes like dirt to me most of the time);green tea is fun with a bit of lemon or orange. Rooibos/red tea is very earthy but some people just love it.

Steve

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2011, 02:08:03 PM »
Why not get into mint tea?

I have some mint plants in my backyard, and they are basically taking over, so I started to offer my guests fresh mint tea. Almost everyone loves it. It tastes a lot sweeter than green and black tea. It is very easy to make: just boil water, pick about 5 leaves and dump it in.

It looks very 'hip'. (Mind you all, it will be the next big trend out there: mint tea, you heard it here first. )

It is rediculously cheap (because you buy one fresh plant and just watch it replicate :) ).  And it is as healthy as it is going to get: fresh leaves, no pesticide unless you put it in, yourself, and sweet enough not to need any sugar added at all.



Outdoor Girl

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2011, 02:50:28 PM »
I drink Earl Grey, which is a flavoured black tea, almost exclusively.  I used to drink it with sugar but when I did the same sort of diet change you are doing, I dropped the sugar and enjoy it clear, now.  I use an electric kettle and pour the water over the tea bag as it boils.  I like to make sure the water I use is fresh and cold from the tap before putting it in the kettle.

My other tea is a decaffinated Red Rose orange pekoe.  I drink this in the evening to avoid the caffeine - again, clear.  I was surprised when Camlan said she could get it in the States because the commercial used to be that the Queen would be sipping Red Rose on her Canadian tour and would then say, 'Only in Canada, you say?  Pity.'   :D

I'm not fond of green tea.  A lot of the time, it tastes like grass to me.  Same with most herbal teas I've tried.  Some of them smell wonderful and then I taste them and it tastes like grass.  So I don't drink those.  Herbal teas generally have no caffeine, green tea is less than black tea.

I had a Texas guest once and she made her own iced tea at my place.  I gave her 6 or 8 black tea bags (I think they were Tetley; might have been Red Rose) and she put them in a large tea pot, added the boiling water and let them steep for about an hour.  Then she transfered the tea to a plastic pitcher to store in the fridge and anytime she wanted a glass of iced tea, she would fill her glass with ice cubes and pour in the tea.  It was very concentrated, to me, but she enjoyed it.  And it would dilute as the ice melted.

Like Steve, I also grow my own mint and lemon balm.  I'll brew some orange pekoe and throw in some mint or lemon balm leaves, bruised or dried, to add some flavour.  I don't like them just on their own, though.

As for dressing up your water, a squeeze of lemon or lime and some mint would be really nice.  I used to use Crystal Light, which has artifical sweeteners, to ease me into drinking water.  I'd make it full strength according to the directions then slowly back off on how much I was putting in until the water was barely flavoured.
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Tashigi

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2011, 08:01:50 PM »
It depends on what flavors you like. Tea, at least tea from tea leaves (Camellia sinensis), comes in four categories, all depending on how the same leaves are processed (oxidized).

Black tea: The most heavily processed, tends towards bitterness and has the highest caffeine concentration of all the teas, often has smoky or spicy notes but you can temper the bitterness with cream/milk, sugar, or lemon.
        Examples: Assam, Ceylon, blends like chai, Earl Grey, British Breakfast, Scottish Breakfast, and Irish Breakfast

Oolong tea: Middling in processing, also tending towards bitterness

Green tea: Least processed, tends to be "grassy" and "bright"
          Examples: Genmaicha (green tea with corn and rice), jasmine, sencha

White tea: Barely processed young tea leaves and buds, tends to be a bit flowery and grassy in flavor notes


If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, they offer a decent selection of teas for fairly cheap prices ($1.99 a box of anywhere from 20 to 40 teabags).

If the taste of green tea is throwing you off, try adding a little honey. It can counteract the bitter and maybe somewhat astringent flavor. Or try flavored green tea. The Coffee Bean blends some very sweet green tea combinations, with flavors like strawberries and cream and cherry blossom.

blarg314

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2011, 10:25:23 PM »

There are some interesting variations of tea which can make nice iced versions. If I'm drinking it unsweetened, I tend to prefer varieties other than black, and don't make it too strong.

Green tea can often be quite astringent, which may taste odd when iced. Jasmine, a flavoured green tea, tends to have a mellower flavour.  A mix of jasmine and mint tea is really good either hot or iced, and not too high in caffeine.

I love iced oolong tea.  It tends to have a fairly complex flavour, and can be quite mellow. Mind you, I'm living in the middle of oolong tea country, so the stuff I buy at the grocery store is cheap and very, very good.

Japanese genmaicha gives a light, nutty tea for either hot or cold.  It's a mix of green tea and toasted rice. 

As far as brewing, for black tea I tend to brew it using a tea ball, and remove the tea when it's reached the right strength. For green or oolong, I use loose leaves, either in a pot or cup, and leave them in, refilling with more hot water a time or two.  For iced, I brew it, then remove the tea and chill.

For some other non-sugary cold options, you might try barley tea,  a Japanese drink that's usually drunk cold.  It's basically toasted barley which is then steeped to make a tea, either ground in a bag or whole.  The flavour is quite mild and a bit nutty, and during the summer we drink it by the bucketful.  To make it, we boil up a pot of water in the evening, add the whole toasted barley, turn of the heat, and let it sit overnight. IN the morning we strain it into the jug.

My personal favourite non sweet cold drink is straight soda water.  I bought a Soda Stream recently, which lets me make fizzy water out of tap water for about 30 cents a litre, and  I love it. It's more interesting than plain water, but is guilt free and cheap.









Frostblooded

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2011, 12:58:57 AM »
Thank you everyone!  :D I garnered a lot more input/replies than I originally ever imagined. I think when I see them on sale/can spare the cash, I'm going to give these suggestions at least one try to see. I know to look out for an Electric Kettle on Black Friday sales!  ;D

When I try them, I'll do my best to remember to tell you what I thought. That Soda Water idea sounds snazzy.

Seraphia

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Re: Making tea.
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2011, 11:24:10 AM »
I'm not a big fan of black tea either, but there are several types of green and herbal tea that I love.

Hibiscus tea (by Tazo) is sort of sour when it's strong. I love it with a little splat of honey.
Vanilla chai. Yum!
Green tea with a little mint is good too.

One tip I got a long time ago - don't leave water in the teakettle and reboil it later. Water's one of the two ingredients in tea, so make sure it's fresh.
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