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Old 03-16-2013, 09:31 AM   #21
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I've worked as a professional taster and buyer of both coffee and tea for the better part of 30 years and drink more tea than coffee these days.

Tea bag tea is to real whole leaf tea what instant coffee is to freshly-roasted whole beans, quality-wise. A good electric kettle and a Chatsford tea pot and cozy or one of Bodum's tea pots are excellent choices. As for the tea, by far the best source in the U.S. is Upton tea:

http://www.uptontea.com

Great customer service as well, and their selection of tea pots, kettles, etc. is first-rate.
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:56 AM   #22
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I've worked as a professional taster and buyer of both coffee and tea for the better part of 30 years and drink more tea than coffee these days.

Tea bag tea is to real whole leaf tea what instant coffee is to freshly-roasted whole beans, quality-wise. A good electric kettle and a Chatsford tea pot and cozy or one of Bodum's tea pots are excellent choices. As for the tea, by far the best source in the U.S. is Upton tea:

http://www.uptontea.com

Great customer service as well, and their selection of tea pots, kettles, etc. is first-rate.
Interesting. If you don't mind asking, who do you feel is an equivalent source for high quality coffee?
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:41 AM   #23
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...(snip)..
I just put the mug and water in the microwave for 1:40 and drop the tea bag in for 3-4 minutes. We have an old tea kettle around somewhere, no clue where though...
We finally came around to the microwave idea a while back when the instant water dispenser started to die. One can get a very nice hot brew going quickly. My setting is 99 seconds (easy to set on our microwave) so I totally agree with Midpack on this.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:17 PM   #24
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Interesting. If you don't mind asking, who do you feel is an equivalent source for high quality coffee?
Thanks for asking! It's a very different marketplace than tea, in which Upton is in a league of their own for the U.S. market. There are many excelent local roasters, so if you live near one that would be your first choice. You want a place that shows obvious signs of care about which farms they buy from and that guarantees all the beans are sold within 7 days of roasting, regardless of how they're packaged.

If you don't live near an excellent roaster, names of top roasters who do good mail order include Terroir Coffee outside of Boston (run by George Howell of Coffee Connection fame), Intelligentsia in Chicago, Stumptown in Portland, Oregon, and Allegro Coffee, which is owned by and sold at Whole Foods. All have websites.

For those who are really into it (and want even better coffee than any of these places at less than half the cost), go to Home Coffee Roasting Supplies - Sweet Maria's

and buy yourself a home roaster (I like the Behmor) and some green beans and roast your own. Even if you don't want to take that on, the Sweet Maria's web site is the single best source of info on coffee roasting, sourcing, buying and brewing on the web.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:36 PM   #25
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We finally came around to the microwave idea a while back when the instant water dispenser started to die. One can get a very nice hot brew going quickly. My setting is 99 seconds (easy to set on our microwave) so I totally agree with Midpack on this.
+1

I looked at the cordless and corded electric hot water kettles and it seems like they take longer than a microwave to heat a cup of water, and are more useful for quantities of hot water larger than the 1-2 cups of tea that I am likely to drink at one sitting. Plus, the last thing I need is one more appliance on my countertop.

I'd love to have the instant hot water dispenser installed in my sink, but they are a little expensive and I know they do break.

The microwave is OK for now. Tea bags are not the perfect solution either, but they do minimize the mess.
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:42 PM   #26
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Tea bag tea is to real whole leaf tea what instant coffee is to freshly-roasted whole beans, quality-wise.
I'm curious about this. Is there a fundamental problem with tea bags, or is it just that the suppliers do not use high quality teas for the tea bag market?

-ERD50
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:45 PM   #27
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...names of top roasters...Intelligentsia in Chicago...
Outstanding coffee. I'll be very surprised if MichaelB hasn't been there. Their original Chicago Broadway store is still my favorite coffee shop anywhere...
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:11 PM   #28
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I'm curious about this. Is there a fundamental problem with tea bags, or is it just that the suppliers do not use high quality teas for the tea bag market?

-ERD50
For simplicity I usually use Twinings tea bags. I like good tea but not ready to go all out on it. But the leaves in the bags are quite small. Once in a while I've bought a really expensive tea in bags, and the leaves are much bigger. So I don't know exactly what the deal is. Twinings isn't a bad brand (not fabulous but it's not the house brand at the grocery store )

My suspicion is that they save the smaller leaves for tea bags...

By the way if you get Twinings tea bags from Amazon, you can do an automatic order - they send it, free shipping, as frequently as you want = and discount it 5% to 15% depending. It's called "subscribed and save". There are a lot of products you can buy this way.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:16 PM   #29
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I was wondering so I just Googled. We have a tea infusor I recently "found," I'll have to try it out. The tea I've had at our local coffee shop has been far better than anything I've had from a commercial tea bag.
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Loose Tea is usually made up of whole leaves, or at least larger parts of tea leaves. Because the flavor and aroma of tea is primarily made up of essential oils that evaporate quickly, the smaller bits of tea leaves primarily found in Bagged Teas, known as fannings or dusts, allow more of the oils to be exposed to air permitting them to evaporate thus diminishing the flavor of the tea.

Another difference in the quality of Loose Tea and Tea Bags is the ability of water to circulate around the leaves. If Tea Bags are packed too tightly the tea leaves will not have the room to absorb water, swell, release oils, or uncurl. This means that the tea will lack body and subtle nuances that play part of the crucial flavor of tea.
Loose Leaf vs Bag Tea
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:45 PM   #30
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I've worked as a professional taster and buyer of both coffee and tea for the better part of 30 years and drink more tea than coffee these days.

Tea bag tea is to real whole leaf tea what instant coffee is to freshly-roasted whole beans, quality-wise. A good electric kettle and a Chatsford tea pot and cozy or one of Bodum's tea pots are excellent choices. As for the tea, by far the best source in the U.S. is Upton tea:

http://www.uptontea.com

Great customer service as well, and their selection of tea pots, kettles, etc. is first-rate.
Thanks KevinK. There is a wonderful series of articles on this page about the evolution of the tea trade. So far I have only read the recent one about the development of steamships, then containers. Really well written and interesting.

I buy tea at a really fun small place in International District, one block north of Uwajimaya. They sell tea up to $300+ per pound. However, I buy at a much lower price point! My green tea is pretty good, and widely available- Sencha, a Japanese tea. The experts in the Chinese tea shop diss on it, but to me it is as good as I could appreciate.

Re: coffee, one of my favorite roasters is out on Greenwood Ave N, Herkimer. It's small and I don't know if they sell mail order. I mostly drink better coffees in coffee houses, as I would over-caffeinate if I had these things at home. Also, I enjoy the experience. I usually get it at Porchlight Coffee a few blocks from my apt. Also Caffe Vita on E Pike, Capitol Hill does an excellent roast right there. The oldest still operating Seattle coffee house is Cafe Allegro, in an alley between NE 43rd and NE 42nd, just east of The Ave. I love the place, and have been going since it opened. I am not sure where the coffee comes from. The baristas are low in attitude which I appreciate.

Here's a web page that highlights the huge selection of Starbuck's beaters in Seattle.

Coffee Shops in Seattle : Coffee Crew, Caffι Vita, Herkimer Coffee | Walk Score.

I have noticed that personal preference of the drinker is big factor in choosing coffees. Some very popular coffees do not please me, and I have gone around town trying many of them.

I started drinking quality coffee in Colombia, then continued in Berkeley at Cafe Mediterraneum on Telegraph Avenue. I would get so caffeinated sitting there drinking Caffe Wien, which they made in a Chemex flask and topped with a bit of foamed milk. So good, and so good to be young at that time and place.

Your career must have been very interesting!

Ha
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Old 03-17-2013, 04:39 PM   #31
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We've had that cordless Aroma tea pot that FIREd suggested for several months and love it. I highly recommend it.

And I recently discovered this Chocolate Tea. Oh my. And I put in some Agave as sweetener and then some French Vanilla Silk, and dip a Salted Caramel Biscotti in it, and, I just about need a cigarette after.... And I quit smoking 27 years ago. Puerh tea also has lots of health benefits, as does Green Tea.

Also, I'd like to recommend the Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegranate. It almost doesn't need any sweetener.

We are both tea freaks.
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:55 PM   #32
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Another tea lover here, but must confess to also using the W2R solution (microwave- perish the thought!).
FWIW- I've developed a liking for Charleston Tea Garden's 'American Classic'. Apparently the only US tea plantation.
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:37 PM   #33
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As a British tea lover, I recommend PG Tips and Yorkshire.

Be careful of hedonic adaption. I happily drank Lipton through college but these days it tastes awful.

Spoiled my taste buds!

SIS
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:00 PM   #34
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+1

I looked at the cordless and corded electric hot water kettles and it seems like they take longer than a microwave to heat a cup of water, and are more useful for quantities of hot
I drink a lot of (peppermint) tea. I found the best system for me is to fill the electric hot water kettle the fill a couple of thermos. This way, I save on electricity and the hot water is ready for me for cup 2 - 5. I do have to get up and pee a lot in the night though (TMI).
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:09 PM   #35
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I think we all have different tastes. I tried a few dozen loose leaf teas from Adiago and I found that I actually prefer tea bags. I LOVE Harney & Sons Cinnamon tea. I also don't make tea the right way. I have a kettle I only use for tea and I make a pot of tea right in the kettle and then just keep reheating cups in the microwave. I'll usually use two tea bags for a whole pot. Do those of you who make tea the right way use a bag for each cup of tea? If so, that would end up costing around 20 cents per cup. With my approach, it's just 40 cents for a pot of about 8 cups. I love that if I forget a cup of tea, I can just reheat it and it's good enough for me.
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:17 PM   #36
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I drink a lot of (peppermint) tea. I found the best system for me is to fill the electric hot water kettle the fill a couple of thermos. This way, I save on electricity and the hot water is ready for me for cup 2 - 5. I do have to get up and pee a lot in the night though (TMI).
Brilliant - I'll use that excuse from now on
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:30 PM   #37
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When I am making just one cup of tea, I put loose leaf tea in a perforated teaspoon, place that in the cup or mug, boil water in the cordless electric kettle, pour it into the cup and let it steep until it is strong enough for my liking.

When I am making tea for guests, I boil a full kettle and pour a cupful of boiling water into my teapot, swirl it around to heat up the pot, and empty it. Then I add two or three spoonfuls of loose leaf tea and fill the teapot with boiling water to infuse. I put a strainer in the cups before pouring. However, the holes in the spout generally catch most larger tea leaves. Warming the pot is crucial, or so I learnt from my mother.

Here is my teapot (Old Country Roses pattern):

| Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton

Many years ago, I received a gift of pieces from this teaset, which is always in production. I started collecting the teaset and I have the coffee pot too. I am amazed to see the current price of my teapot and in my current LBYM state of mind I would never buy it!
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Old 03-18-2013, 08:32 AM   #38
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Another tea lover here, but must confess to also using the W2R solution (microwave- perish the thought!).
FWIW- I've developed a liking for Charleston Tea Garden's 'American Classic'. Apparently the only US tea plantation.
Yes indeed, started by Lipton back in the day, was a private concern for many years following, then bought out by the Bigelow family most recently. I worked there many years, learning both the horticultural and tea tasting sides of the business.

Tea is a member of the Camellia family, and has been grown in this area for more than 100 years, since Dr. Charles Shepard's Pinehurst plantation was established in 1888.

Setting up proper tea tasting was lots of fun, and I learned a great deal about brewing techniques. What the tea taster likes best has nothing to do with personal preference, but rather judging the tea against established norms.
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:13 AM   #39
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Yes indeed, started by Lipton back in the day, was a private concern for many years following, then bought out by the Bigelow family most recently. I worked there many years, learning both the horticultural and tea tasting sides of the business.

Tea is a member of the Camellia family, and has been grown in this area for more than 100 years, since Dr. Charles Shepard's Pinehurst plantation was established in 1888.

Setting up proper tea tasting was lots of fun, and I learned a great deal about brewing techniques. What the tea taster likes best has nothing to do with personal preference, but rather judging the tea against established norms.
Wow.. now that would be an interesting story ! I didn't think that the US had any of the right micro-climates for tea ? Especially SC ?!

My morning cup is just a run of the mill chai. In the evenings now I am partial to a nice Oolong though.. a very "creamy" tea and a sort of mix of a greens smoothness with a blacks flavour..

For years I enjoyed this book, a good guide to tea/coffee:
"Coffee and Tea: The complete guide to evaluating, buying, preparing, and enjoying every variety of coffee and tea"

Coffee and Tea: Amazon.ca: Elin McCoy & John Frederick Walker: Books
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:38 PM   #40
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Brought back some coca tea from Ecuador which I really enjoy. Don't know if it is legal to buy it in the U.S.
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