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Loose Tea
Old 03-18-2011, 05:46 PM   #1
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Loose Tea

I have always been a coffee lover, but since my chemo treatments 3 years ago, my stomach just won't tolerate coffee. Soooooo, I have taken to drinking tea. I am also on a quest to save money on groceries, so I thought I'd look into buying some loose tea for both economical reasons, and also to enjoy perhaps some better tasting tea.

I was surprised to learn how expensive these teas could be. My son is already blowing $50 a month on his "good coffee beans" so I didn't want to add to that with my expensive teas now. Anyone buy loose tea? What kind do you prefer? Where do you get it. Is it expensive?

Was going to check out Whole Foods this week to see if they carried any loose tea. I know it varies from region to region. I also go to a Chinese market to buy some good rice. Maybe they have some there. Some of these on line tea retailers are selling loose teas for $20 for 3 oz. Not very economical.
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:51 PM   #2
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I only drink my tea over ice cubes so I can't help you with what's good or not.

But your post screams out for an internet search.

Here (for example) is 3 pounds of tea for ~$20.

Lipton Black Tea, Loose, 1/2 pound Boxes (Pack of 6): Amazon.com: Grocery & Gourmet Food

There are many many other choices. Do a search
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:55 PM   #3
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I get all my loose tea from there:

Mountain Rose Herbs | Bulk organic herbs, spices & essential oils

The price depends on the type of tea, but most teas go for $1-2 per ounce.
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:49 AM   #4
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Jasmine Tea

I've been drinking this tea for years, since maybe 2003. It is my absolute favorite, after trying just about every tea adagio sells, as well as a wide variety of bagged teas.

A few things about the loose tea that are not obvious:

1. Most places tell you to use too much. I find a teaspoon is more than enough for a 20oz cup of hot tea.

2. Non-herbal loose tea does very well with multiple infusions. I'll usually have three of those 20oz cups of tea off of the one teaspoon worth of tea. Just throw the teaball on a tea candle holder between cups so it can air dry.

3. If the tea you try is bitter, it's most likely been over-steeped. Keep it in the water for less time and try again. The other possibility is the water was too hot, if it's a green tea. Loose leaf teas seem more sensitive to this.

4. The quality is significantly higher than most bagged teas, so making an ounce to ounce price comparison isn't really accurate.

Accounting for those factors, I do find it is more economical than buying bagged tea, especially when I buy enough to get free shipping. I only order tea once every year or two.
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:40 AM   #5
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Depends on what you like. Best tea is going to be the freshest you can buy, so try to get yours from a company that has a lot of inventory turnover. You don't need to get fancy gourmet tea if you like the taste of regular.

Brew with fresh cold water that has just come to a boil, go by the clock rather than the color when brewing (3 minutes is right for most, but you may prefer a shorter brew time) and don't be afraid to try some of the herbal/tea mixtures for variety.

The Lipton loose tea is good, you might also want to look at Upton Tea Importers, Bigelow tea, and perhaps even Celestial Seasonings for herbals.
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:55 AM   #6
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I wish I could help - especially as I grew up in a country of tea drinkers (England). However, I am not a man of refined taste, so I usually buy boxes of 100 bags of something cheap like Lipton or Red Rose and it fits the bill for me. Occasionally a cup of Earl Grey does down well.

Oddly enough, after developing a taste for cheap tea bags, I find the taste of teas like PG tips too strong and too smooth and actually prefer the cheaper blends.

Growing up in England, I learned that the "proper" way to pour a cup was to put the milk in first. Now I flaunt the rules and put it in second, but it definitely does change the taste.

Good luck with your tea journey!
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:03 AM   #7
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Try this site for price comparisons. Shipping will be the tie-breaker versus a local source, of course. I have no local sources, so I absorb the shipping costs.

Loose Leaf Tea

I've bought their fruit herbal teas for making iced tea in the summer. I bought it in 1 lb bulk plastic bags. I store it in a completely dark pantry. I push all of the air out of the bag before closing the ziploc type seal. It is still very fresh after 2 years from purchase.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:43 AM   #8
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It's worth looking at the Chinese market - my local ones have pretty good loose leaf green and black teas. I use them for everyday drinking, with an occasional "gourmet" tea from online or a local tea shop. http://www.adagio.com has some good teas but not necessarily cheap.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:57 AM   #9
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I'd suggest a good quality like Barry's Irish tea or Bewley's. I get both from Celtic Treasure's online store, which is based in Saratoga Spring's, NY. You can make a nice pot with it, and add more boiling water when the pot is about a third gone.

IRISH GIFTS FROM CELTIC TREASURES
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Old 03-19-2011, 02:11 PM   #10
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I get most of my tea from a local co. Very good, fresh, and fairly priced.
Mrs Kellys Tea, Custom Blended Teas
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:40 PM   #11
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Keep an eye on Amazon's grocery section - I've found some really good bargains for loose leaf tea when they're running specials.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:57 PM   #12
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Oddly enough, after developing a taste for cheap tea bags, I find the taste of teas like PG tips too strong and too smooth and actually prefer the cheaper blends.
Have you tried Brooke Bond Red Label Tea?
Similar taste to PG tips, but weaker.
A lot of Indian grocery stores here carry it.
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:20 PM   #13
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Find an Indian grocery store and try out the loose leaf teas there. If you like strong black tea, you'll like the ones you find. Lipton is good - they have the red, yellow & I think green labels. I like a very strong tea that goes under the Wagh-Bakri brand.

All of these are quite economical.
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Old 03-20-2011, 02:59 AM   #14
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Have you tried Brooke Bond Red Label Tea?
Similar taste to PG tips, but weaker.
A lot of Indian grocery stores here carry it.
I haven't - thanks for the tip.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:13 PM   #15
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So many good responces. Thank you all very much. Now I just have to make up my mind.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:52 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by modhatter View Post
So many good responces. Thank you all very much. Now I just have to make up my mind.
Or you can just work your way through all the suggestions and then decide. Will take a year of two - but who's counting?
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:42 AM   #17
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It's worth looking at the Chinese market - my local ones have pretty good loose leaf green and black teas. I use them for everyday drinking, with an occasional "gourmet" tea from online or a local tea shop. http://www.adagio.com has some good teas but not necessarily cheap.
I've been a converted from coffee to tea drinker for a couple of decades and use the Chinese stores for my teas as well. Low cost with selections I prefer like Pu-Erh (other spellings may be used) which is an "earthy" tea and my favorite and Kemun which is a great black tea. The amount of tea to boiling water (for black teas) and steeping time are critical to the taste. Experiment until you find the formula that suits you.

Cheers!
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:34 PM   #18
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I drink 5-6 cups of loose tea every day, and have tried about thirty different loose teas so far. I only have to spend $50 every 6 months to keep up the habit, it is very inexpensive compared to any other type of drink, and is better for you than just water. The finum cup-strainer is the easiest thing to use for a single person, pots are more suited for serving multiple people.

Adagio definitely is one of the best tea distributors. It has a very wide selection, though certain kinds of teas it sells are pricey, while others are very inexpensive. Shipping is free with any reasonable sized orders, there are often freebie offers or discounts, and you get a $10 certificate every $100 spent or so. Their tea cookies are also amazing (I got a free sample), but are very expensive.

My regular rotation right now is coconut black, citron green, and oolong #18 (jade oolong). Large leaf teas can been re-steeped not just 1-2 times, but 6+ times (such as jade oolong), which is why I find it to be about as expensive as citron green and coconut black. Large leaf teas retain their flavor for an amazing amount of time, especially in comparison to bagged tea which is strong of the first steep, very weak on the second steep, and non-existent on the third.

Rose Mountain seems to have good prices, its selection is very limited, but I have been looking all over for a cheaper jasmine tea option, since Adagio is a bit pricey for its jasmine tea options. Shipping however seems really high, you need to buy at least 2 lbs for it to be a better deal than Adagio.
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:38 PM   #19
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Rose Mountain seems to have good prices, its selection is very limited, but I have been looking all over for a cheaper jasmine tea option, since Adagio is a bit pricey for its jasmine tea options. Shipping however seems really high, you need to buy at least 2 lbs for it to be a better deal than Adagio.
I haven't paid much attention to the shipping costs to tell you the truth. I order all my teas, spices, and dried herbs from Mountain Rose once a year so my shipment often tops 10lbs. Their selection of ready-made teas is limited, but I mix my own herbal teas and they have an extensive selection of individual ingredients, so that's not an issue for me.
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Old 03-21-2011, 07:26 PM   #20
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Well, I went to my Asian market today and picked up a few of their teas. I just had my first cup of Jasmine tea. It tastes like flowers. I think I used too much and let it steep too long. Will try second steep and see. They were very reasonable there. Have no idea on quality as I have no bases of comparison.

Also placed an order through Upton's today, which was a supplier recommended online from some tea connoisseur . A plus with Upton is you can buy very small samples for $1-$2 each that give you a few cups each. This way I can see what the heck I like and experiment with a lot of different kinds. I don't know a Oolong from a Darjeeling to a Pu_Ehr. I am going to try Adagio and Mountain Rose next, when I start to narrow it down. I also picked up a can of Barry's English Breakfest from Homegoods store today. (I'm sure it's not very fresh, but the price was right)

My new hobby now I think. Going to try my second steep of Jasmine now, and see if I still feel like I've just ate a bunch of flowers.
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