Sunday, December 7, 2014

My hints for Christmas tea shopping...

 
I think- no I BELIEVE that making a good tea starts with the tea you choose, then almost just as important is the water temperature and how long you steep it.  You can completely ruin a wonderful tea by not making your water hot enough or making it too hot.  Also if you steep it too long or not long enough it can ruin your tea.
 
So, if you are just starting out I recommend the following things... an electric water kettle.  You can always pour your correct temperature water into a pretty tea pot- but first you need to have the right temp!  Next I recommend a timing device.  Lastly, a good tea infuser.

 
You can get inexpensive timers or go a little more high tech,  it's just important to steep your tea the correct amount of time!!! 
 
Example- a hot herbal tea should be steeped 5-6 minutes, while a green tea should only be steeped 2 minutes.  Don't believe me- try your green tea steeped 5 minutes virus 2 minutes.... it's night and day!

 
You can lots of different infusers.  I prefer the Perfectea Maker by Teavana or Ingenuitea.  I like that I put my loose leaf tea (or tea bag) in the infuser, add my hot water and let it steep- then I put the infuser on the mug and let it drain in to my mug. 
Hint- you need to have your water over  200 degrees to step your herbal, but you don't need to drink it at that temperature!  I am a sissy when it comes to the temperature my tongue can stand.  They say that is why Japanese and Chinese tea cups don't' have handles.  When you go to pick up your tea cup, if it is too hot to pick up, it's too hot to drink!

Next is an electric kettle.  I like this one, because it has a low setting good for green and white tea.  Then there is a higher setting for Herbal, Mate, Rooibos, and Black tea.
 
Again the water temp is huge!!!  If it is too hot you will bruise your tea and the tea is not nearly as good.
 
So- if you are just starting out I recommend those 3 items to help you make GREAT tea.  Next are my favorite brands of tea.  As you can see, I have tasted LOTS of tea.  So, I feel that I have drank enough tea to know what is really good!  I think you can trust my recommendations...



 I am a purest and I much prefer loose tea to bagged tea,   I think that you get a much better flavor with the loose tea.  But, that is a personal choice...

My #1 FAVORITE tea company is TEAVANA!!!  Hands down it is my favorite.  It is pricey, but I think it is worth it.

Now in no particular order are my next favorite tea companies....

Tealightful is purchased through home parties.  Above are my two favorite flavors from Tealightful.  This loose tea comes bagged... so once I open it I put it in these dark airtight containers.  I know tea looks pretty in clear containers- but tea and light do not mix.  Keep your tea in a dark airtight container.  I made these containers dark- by spraying the outside black.... its cheap and easy.
 

I also really enjoy Tea Forte.  They have lots of fun flavors.  They also do some loose  tea in a bag, some in loose tins, and some in a tea bag- but its in mesh bag, which I love!  I think if you are going to drink tea in a tea bag you should try to find tea sold in mesh bags.

Then we have Harney & Sons.  They have a ton of great. Flavors as well.  They too sell a bagged tea in a mesh bag for those who do not want the loose tea.


Twinings is classic company that has been around forever!  The have bagged tea as well as loose tea.  They are one of the few companies that I do like their bagged tea even though it is not in a mesh bag.  Their tea has great flavor.
Paromi is a tea I love, they have a meshed bag tea.  I really like their tea, and this is the company that gave me the idea to find a jar I like and just spray paint the outside black. This company does not a huge amount of flavors, but all I have tried I like!  My favorite from them is the Coconut Almond!  They also also have a oolong lemon and ginger that it really tasty too.

Smith Tea is great too!!  They have loose and tea bags for you to choose from..  I like so many of their teas- Jasmine tea, Chai, and Fez teas.  I have visited their tea house in Portland twice- that WAS such a treat!!

 
 Here  you can see a regular tea bag (old school) versus the mesh bag.  The mesh really helps release flavors!


I know that there are hundreds of teas out there and so many choices you can make,  I hope this helps you in narrowing down some decisions!  None of these tea companies pay me or give me kick backs- so these are just my honest thoughts in effort to help you.  You are on your own picking flavors.  That is always a personal thing.  Me, I like green but really only in Jasmine tea.  I am not a fan of white.  I am hit or miss with Mate teas and Rooibos teas.   I like black tea with milk and  I like a lot of herbal.