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Gunner's picture

Tea talk.  (post #46835)

  I've been thinking about getting into tea.

   Two things I wonder about. Is leaf tea better then tea in a bag? And what's the proper procedure for preparing both?

 I apreciate any help I can get.





Expert since 10 a.m.


MadMom's picture

(post #46835, reply #1 of 54)

Well, I personally don't think you could fit into a tea bag.  Now, perhaps a bathtub filled with loose tea?  Oh, were you serious?  My mistake.  Obviously, I know nothing about tea, but have heard that real tea drinkers don't care for the bags.  Don't know why, though. 

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Gunner's picture

(post #46835, reply #2 of 54)

  I guess I should have said I was thinking about getting into drinking tea.

  And the tea bag vs. regular tea is what I'm curious about.




Expert since 10 a.m.


Mwalls's picture

(post #46835, reply #3 of 54)

I believe that leaf tea does taste better than the tea that you get in the bag. That is perhaps because you get much more variety with types of tea that are loose as opposed to tea in a bag. The tea usually is sold in a bag, much like a coffee bag, and you can get both regular varieties or decaf. To make the loose tea, you will need a special tool in which you encase the tea and then submerge it in the hot water. Anywhere that sells loose tea should sell these tools, and they only cost a couple of dollars. Also, you should cover your tea and let it steep for five minutes before drinking.

I hope that helps.

Gunner's picture

(post #46835, reply #4 of 54)

   Yea that's what I'm after. So seeping is the key?  Thank you.

What makes the tea in the bag undesirable?




Expert since 10 a.m.


mer's picture

(post #46835, reply #5 of 54)

Tea in a bag is for convenience only. Loose tea is much better quality. Tea in a bag is mostly tea dust from the bottom of the barrel after the tea leaves have been sold off. There is more flavor from tea leaves.

That said, I have and enjoy both.

Tea in a bag can be prepared in a tea cup/mug. Real tea has more formal rules about proper preparation. Most important is bringing cold water to a full rolling boil and preparing the tea in a tea pot, like a brown betty.

Gunner's picture

(post #46835, reply #8 of 54)

  Thank you. That's exactly what I'm wanting to hear about.




Expert since 10 a.m.


ashleyd's picture

(post #46835, reply #14 of 54)

There's a lot of snobbery surrounding tea, lots of myths and a few grains of truth. Bag or loose? In truth there's not a huge amount of difference if you buy a quality blend, yes you tend to get more dust in a bag rather than larger leaves, but the basic taste is there and it helps to speed the brew up, of course if you had the dust in loose tea it would end up in your cup because the strainer wouldn't trap it (bit like fine coffee in a French Press). The only thing you need to do is to have the water come to the rolling boil just before you add it to the tea. You shouldn't let the water boil more than you have to, and for preference it should be freshly drawn water, in both cases because it contains the maximum amount of dissolved oxygen which makes the tea taste "fresher". Warm the pot by all means, this becomes more critical with bigger teapots, but I have a small, fairly thin teapot which heats up quickly enough. I've tried tea made in the teapot and tea made in the cup and for me the teapot wins every time, I have no idea why but it just seems to be clearer and fresher. How long to steep it? Well conventional wisdom says 5 minutes but I usually wait less, although I will give it a quick stir in the pot before pouring out, it's a personal taste thing, try different times and see how you like it.

The trickiest thing to find in the US is a decent blend, I've seen all those "English Teas" on sale there, and they've appeared at my table when I've ordered tea and they are nothing like the blends we get in the UK even if they appear to share the same name. The ones in the US are blended for the American taste, so if you like them then enjoy them, but it might be fun to find an imported one to see if you prefer it (you may well not).

Personally I'm a little wary of those metal ball things used to hold the loose tea, much simpler to use a strainer when you pour it out. I suppose if you have to make it in a cup from loose tea that's better than nothing.

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was.

Edited 1/1/2007 11:23 am by ashleyd

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Alexandra's picture

(post #46835, reply #15 of 54)

We're BIG tea drinkers in the house.  Most of my tea is purchased at Special Teas in Victoria BC, I am sure they have a website as I know she ships all over.  I've been in the store when their shipments have come in.  Big, huge wooden boxes with black stencilling all over the sides, very exotic.  Each of their teas has a description of the flavours, some can be extremely $$ and some not so.  We buy a variety and keep the $$ ones for special afternoon teas breaks.  I find that 1 tsp per person and one for the pot far too much tea for me.  I put about 2 tsp in a pot and get 4 cups of tea from it.  Milk goes in the cup first, this came about so that you don't break your china when you pour hot tea into a cold fragile china cup.  I have purchased empty tea bags that I fill with loose tea to take to work.  Just for convienence.  But as I run out of my stash of tea bags, I'm switching to a small tea ball.  There is oodles to know about teas, like location grown, weather conditions, etc. much like wines.  I used to be a  coffee drinker but the caffine really started to mess me up.  Go on, brew a cuppa, you know you want to.

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        -:¦:- Alexandra-:¦:-

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Heather's picture

(post #46835, reply #17 of 54)

I love Special Tea. Last time I was there I got some delicious Hajua. Thanks for the reminder, I should reorder it.

Gunner's picture

(post #46835, reply #18 of 54)

  JEEZ. After that I'm really jonesing for a cup and I don't even drink it LOL. Thank you very much.




Binky Boodle is the man!


soupereasy's picture

(post #46835, reply #20 of 54)

Interesting, I was always told to put the milk in first so that you would "warm the milk with the tea, not cool the tea with the milk.".

Syrah's picture

(post #46835, reply #6 of 54)

Leaf tea is the way to go, as the stuff they put in the bags is dry and musty.

Ashley will probably come along and correct me but I start with a warm teapot, add a teaspoon of tea per person and one for the pot. Then you pour freshly boiled water over the leaves and let steep for 5 minutes and then drink with milk and sugar or lemon. I only do this if someone will share the pot with me because overbrewed tea is icky.

For the day to day, I use one of those teaball things or a little one-cup plunger. Same principle with the warm vessel though.

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shoechick's picture

(post #46835, reply #7 of 54)

Just before you kettle is coming to a boil, rinse your teapot in the hot, hot water and give it a swirl.  You have to start with a hot teapot.  As to when to add milk, lemon, honey, etc.  Personal taste in my opinion.

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Gunner's picture

(post #46835, reply #9 of 54)

  Thank you.




Expert since 10 a.m.


KitchenWitch's picture

(post #46835, reply #10 of 54)

everyone has given great advice, so I'll add my favorite place to order tea:


You don't scare me. I have a three year old.


Gunner's picture

(post #46835, reply #11 of 54)

Got it. Thank you.

KitchenWitch's picture

(post #46835, reply #12 of 54)

you're welcome. the site can be a little confusing to navigate, but they have a nifty feature where you answer a few questions adn they make recommendations to you.

my favorites are the Citrus Sencha, Morrocan Mint and the Gen Mai Cha - which is a green tea with toasted rice.


You don't scare me. I have a three year old.


wisekaren's picture

(post #46835, reply #13 of 54)

TeaLuxe used to be right in my neighborhood, but that one closed and I rarely get into town to the other ones. But a new tea place just opened up at the Chestnut Hill Mall, of all places. It's called Teavana, and they have a great selection:

But I still start every day with a cuppa PG Tips, because first thing in the morning a tea bag is about all I can deal with.

Risottogirl's picture

(post #46835, reply #24 of 54)

We love Rishi.

The BEST Earl Grey (according to SO) and herbal blends for nighttime.

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor

Bobby Flay

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Heather's picture

(post #46835, reply #16 of 54)

Instead of tea balls I use the fine mesh strainers that you get at the Asian market. They come in all diameters so you can fit your teapot well and there is lots of room for the leaves to expand. They are also easy to clean. The ones I use have a little bamboo handle but they look like this--

tea_strainers.jpg13.46 KB
Gunner's picture

(post #46835, reply #19 of 54)

      So you pour the tea over the strainer into the pot?




Binky Boodle is the man!


Heather's picture

(post #46835, reply #23 of 54)

>>>So you pour the tea over the strainer into the pot?<<<

Heat the pot, put in the strainer, put the loose tea in the strainer, cover the pot. Steep for a few minutes (to your taste), pour the tea out of the pot into your cup. If you have made a big pot you can take the strainer out so the tea doesn't continue to steep and get too strong.

Adele's picture

(post #46835, reply #25 of 54)

put in the strainer, put the loose tea in the strainer

I'm confused and I've made tea all my life. :)  

If you put loose tea into a tea BALL and then put the ball in the teapot, and then add hot water, there is no need for a strainer.

If you put loose tea DIRECTLY into the teapot, then add water, you will need a strainer over the cup when you pour the tea to catch loose tea leaves.

Just to be sure, I'm calling a strainer wire mesh that you pour things through.  A tea ball holds loose tea inside it. 

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

Heather's picture

(post #46835, reply #26 of 54)

Did you look at the picture I attached to my post? The straining cup sits in the teapot, the metal edge hangs on the lip of the pot so it doesn't fall in. You put the tea in the strainer instead of putting it in a tea ball. When the tea is ready to your liking you pull the strainer out of the pot with the tea leaves in it. I'm not sure I can make this any clearer. Call it something other than a strainer if that is what is confusing you. Call it a tea ball without a top.

Some Asian teapots come with these already inside. I've also bought some teapots that have a porcelain one that fits inside but often those aren't so good because the holes are too big or the unit is too small to allow the leaves to expand. Also, often the lid doesn't fit properly unless they are left in the pot so you can't remove them and keep the rest of the tea. Well you can, but the lid falls off when you pour a cup.

Any clearer? I hope so.

Adele's picture

(post #46835, reply #27 of 54)

I have a confession.  I don't look at any attachments nor blogs nor articles posted as a link, nor do I open big pictures.  I know I miss things (obviously).  I knew I was confused and I apologize.   Thanks for describing it for me, I now know just what you mean.  

(I'm still dial-up, it takes forever to open a new web page, wait for pictures & stuff to load, then find the article, then.....................)

Edit for clarity. 

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

Edited 1/1/2007 7:03 pm ET by Adele

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

marie-louise's picture

(post #46835, reply #31 of 54)

I've got two of those teapots w/ the strainers built-in. I like them a lot. Here's a picture:

They come in lots of cute colors.

Heather's picture

(post #46835, reply #33 of 54)

Those are very cute! yet another teapot might be in my future!

marie-louise's picture

(post #46835, reply #34 of 54)

They sell them at that tea store on Piedmont Avenue. They have them in a lot more colors.

Heather's picture

(post #46835, reply #35 of 54)

I'll check them out next time I go to Poppy. Thanks.

Ballottine's picture

(post #46835, reply #21 of 54)

If you have an Asian store near you look for tea cups with lids. I use those for green tea and I brew it the way Chinese have brewed it for centuries:  Put loose tea in your mug, add boiling water, cover with the lid. Tea is ready when tea leaves settle in the bottom, they won't cup up and interfere with your drinking pleasure.

Your first cup will give you a bigger jolt of caffeine than a cup of coffee. (LOL) Keep adding hot water and drinking allday long if you wish.  If you stay with this cup all day, as many Chinese tea drinkers do, by the end of the day you will end up with what Mandaring speaking Chinese call "Bay Cha" -- white tea.  

If you have a choice buy green tea from Taiwan, not PRC.  Good green tea can be very expensive.  It is worth it if you enjoy it.  Bal


So much to cook; so little time.


So much to cook; so little time.