Coffee Share 210501: Tea 101

This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest.
Link to This week’s full list
Link to my Story Blog:  Table of Contents.

Today I was working up an email to a friend about moving up to advanced enjoyment of tea and decided that this was good enough material to share with my coffee share peers, because there are times, when coffee, no matter how modified it is with various contaminants, is just too strong.

So, not wanting to upset the coffee sensibilities of anyone, I would like to share some of my lessons in Advanced Tea Enjoyment.

First, let’s talk about caffeine.

Let’s be frank, caffeine can be both a blessing and a curse.  It’s a well known and dependable pick-me-up and jolt of energy when you need one, but we do tend to over-use it and sometimes just need to slow down, let our metabolism withdraw some by reducing our caffeine intake some.

The details are interesting but more detailed than you might want to read, but the end result is that your average a cup of coffee contains much more caffeine than black tea and green tea contains even less because it is prepared differently. Herbal teas most often have plenty of taste and zero caffeine.

Then, there’s taste. This attribute really does vary wildly. If we can remove the addictive nature of coffee from discussion, we can quickly realize that tea can be as full of flavor, as strong, as light, as flexible about sweeteners and creamers as coffee can be.  Frankly, I think the taste options of tea are wider than that of coffee especially if you include the herbals which are not normally made with real tea but are a very pleasant set of recipes with lots of different stuff that leak interesting flavors into your cup when exposed to hot water.

Tea can be as convenient as any coffee, but, like coffee, with a bit of care and judgement, you can make either tea or coffee even more satisfying by purchasing better products.  In producing both, manufacturers employ a variety of steps that impact final taste.  If you pay for better preparation, you get a better drink (normally).

For ease of use, coffee has it’s pods and machines and tea has its bags. Tea bags are popular and easy to deal with but I’ve found the best taste comes from loose leaf teas which are equivalent to selected and personally ground coffee beans. For tea, there is often sachets available which are these cool little bags of real loose leaf teas that you use like a normal tea bag, but you would be well advised to pay attention to the brewing temperatures and times because now you’re playing the the tea adults and will get better results if you do.

We all have our list of favorite coffees and this post is using coffee only as it compared to tea, so here are my favorite loose leaf teas.  I’ve chosen to buy mostly from one respected tea vendor who covers all the bases of tea types well and maintains a high degree of quality and sophistication about the whole process. I use (US based) Harney & Sons as my vendor of choice.

First for plain, unflavored black teas I love Darjeeling for it’s classic black tea taste, but if it’s going to be a tough morning and I need something stronger I go with the Assam-based Irish Breakfast which is stronger stuff and may need a bit of milk to calm it down to taste.

For flavored black teas, I go for either the classic Bergamot-tinted British taste of Earl Grey or the more flavorful experience, I go for H&S Paris tea.  Think of Earl Grey with a dose of vanilla and other spices.

For a taste and drink that I can literally drink all day long, I go with a black tea that is prepared somehow so differently that if Irish Breakfast is a slap in the face, Formosa Oolong is a warm cuddle with trusted warm body.  It’s rich and easy to just sip all day long as desired. If black tea is stronger than what I want, a personal favorite is a flavored green tea called Cherry Blossom.  This cherry-tinted tea is also so smooth and easy on the taste buds as to lend itself to being your night time sipping drink.

Green teas often need less than boiling water and less time to steep, so are popular because you can be ready to roll with them faster.  For straight up unflavored green tea, I’ve settled (for this week at least) the Yanagi Green tea, but for a much more satisfying flavor, you really should try H&S Genmicha. which uses toasted rice as a flavoring for a green tea.  I was amazed at how good it is think of green tea flavored with the Japanese carb-of-choice.

Of course there are others, but this essay is already long on details so  I’ll wrap this up with some things I’ve found help me produce a great mug of tea each day. Here are two items found in my container of tea-sentials.

A handy timer because you will quickly find that the time you steep each tea controls how strong your drink is. Loose leaf black (flavored or not) and green teas differ greatly in recommended time to steep. Too short of time can = weak flavor and too long can = bitter flavor.

A handy one-piece Thermometer with folding probe. Black teas can be a no brainer, just use boiling water for about 5 min. Green teas often recommend only 175 degree water for only 3 minutes.  Lacking a preset hot water dispenser or thermometer, exactly how would you get 175 degree water?  The answer is not stick your finger in BTW. . . Too hot or cold of water greatly effects the resulting flavor. I have a flavored black tea, a Sri Lanka orange pekoe, which I don’t like steeped for 5 min, but 3 and half is perfect. 

Finally here are some photos of similar products to what I have, love and use. The links above will take you to Amazon where you can read up on each.

Of course, you already know you’ll need a source of hot water. Make it as clean (perhaps filtered) as possible because less than pure water will be noticed with good teas where coffee might hide it.  You’ll need a tea pot and there are thousands of excellent choices to match your preferences and needs. You might want to pick up a one cup/mug infuser as well for times when it’s just you, a good book and a mug of tea.  Regardless, I’ve found my morning just start better with a favorite tea.

I hope I’ve tickled an interest. Thanks for stopping by.

I’ll be around to visit your share real soon.  First I have a half written story calling for my attention.


Blessings all! 

GW bio card 4

36 thoughts on “Coffee Share 210501: Tea 101

  1. Thank you so much for sharing and you are very much a tea afecionado and so it is great to read all about teas that you have shared! I agree, I think teas have more diverse flavors and I didn’t know things like the different temps for brewing certain teas! Thanks again! And have a wonderful weekend! ❤️ ~ D

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Gary
    Well you may think I’m uncivilized but….I almost never drive anything hot. I sometimes will buy an iced coffee but that’s rare. I’m weird. I WISH I could enjoy hot drinks but it’s not in my makeup I guess.
    Wishing you a great week ahead and much happy sipping! 🌺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dinah – I do not think of you as anything less than civilized, thoughtful, smart and gracious. Since you threw in that bit about not liking hot drink, I may be persuaded to agree that you are pleasantly unique. I thought you might mention, but you did not, do you like ice teas? I’ve tried several of my favorite teas on ice and really like them that way too. Summer or winter, I’d be pleased to provide you with a cool drink of your choice or experiment some with something neither of us have tried.
      Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Gary
        Yes, I used to love Good Earth tea on ice. Their original tea was a lovely cinnamon and fruit blend….Wonderful! But sadly, my body doesn’t handle regular cinnamon intake so I had to quit and never found a replacement. Maybe some day….if you’ve found some that are good on ice, I’d be interested.
        Thanks and happy weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have one coffee in the morning. Tea sometimes in the afternoon. I grew up drinking black tea with milk. I wouldn’t think of putting milk in it now. My favourite tea is LADY Earl Grey or an Earl Grey. That Paris sounds interesting. We have a whole cache of various flavoured teas that we sample.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jackie. I’ve heard of, but not tried Lady Grey and now may have to look it up. Please hold. . . .
      Ah, It’s the same as Earl Grey but has lemon peal and other citrus flavors added. That does sound good. I also should have looked up the flavorings of my Paris tea. From the H&S website: “Paris is a fruity black tea with vanilla and caramel flavors, and a hint of lemony Bergamot”. I really thought there was some spice in there, but it really is good stuff. Unless you hate any hint of caramel, you should love this flavor.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  4. I have a loose leaf tea collection in my cupboard. Mostly herbal and some green.

    I was thinking as I read the invite sounds different and feels different. “Do you have to go for coffee?” vs “Do you want to go for tea?”

    Intersting coffee share. Thanks Gary. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. . . . and you know what? As long as we wind up with tea before us, does it matter much how we phrase it. In my travels, I’ve run into unexpected ways to say things. I’m honestly confused by them at first but if the meaning is clear enough, the variations are fun.

        Like

  5. One advantage of tea – the bags can be re-used. Yes, yes, I know – that’s heresy. But it can come in handy some times. One favorite movie scene, from the Great Escape,focuses on Flight Lieutenant Blythe, preparing tea. He uses a bag clearly used several times before. He adds some condensed milk from a smuggled can and says, “Tea without cream is barbaric.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Don.
      I’d not heard of this and thought the only tea that was reused was some oolong varieties and they brag about it.
      I tried it and, as compared to fresh tea, it’s not worth the effort.
      Thanks for checking in. Hope all us well.

      Like

  6. Interesting article. I’m not much of a tea drinker as my god has issues with tannin… A main ingredient of most teas. That said, I do like a good cuppa catnip tea (homegrown catnip,that is.) I only use herbs I can gather on my own. In winter, a hearty peppermint is good for a cold, along with anise tea. There is a special chrisanthemum/honey tea I get at the oriental store that I love either hot or cold. Generally tea for me is something medicinal as it causes such issues for me. I’m often known to sit back with a cuppa hot water to enjoy. Water, clean water, wasn’t something we had at home so as a child I learned to boil water from the creek… Maybe that’s why I like to sip hot water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bear. Yea, Not getting along with tannin is most likely a game-over buzzer for you and normal tea. I have never done my own herb tea but know some folks are nuts for different blends. I even read somewhere that some folks harvest and make tea from stinging nettles . . . to which I say, “Why have you not burned that bush to the ground?” Those plants are nasty. What they do to your skin if touched is terrible and I’m not at all interested in finding out what tea made from it would do to my mouth and throat.
      It sounds like you know what you’re doing and your guidance I would trust – unless you’re trying to get me to taste nettles.
      In that case I would wonder what I did to make you so angry at me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nettle tea isn’t so bad. I felt much like you until I had some. It tastes like regular tea…. but it does have medicinal qualities to it. Google will tell you, it slips my mind at the moment.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nothing. It’s just not a bad tea. Just the name that gets ya. It really doesn’t sting your throat. Honestly. Not a tea is drink everyday mind you, but not bad.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the tea. My husband is brewing all kinds of tea to reduce his caffeine intake. I am not up to sacrificing my coffee buzz (I have so few vices), but the man does feel the difference, so I may have to approach it with an open mind. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL Antoinette. Just a few vices you say. . .
      But then a gentleman should never ask about such things. There are some very strong teas that would hold their own against coffee. You might try any Assam based tea. It is known as one of the strongest of the non-flavored black teas. Brewed up with a half more tea than the normal amount and/or steeped for 2 minutes longer than recommended would raise the chewy factor considerably and render it undrinkable by us tea wimps, but it might just appeal to a gal who really wants something like her precious coffee buzz. You might need help blinking for a few minutes until you acclimate. Think of it as research and all will be well. Be ready to write afterwards as rest may not be an option for several hours.
      Blessings.

      Like

  8. I do enjoy a good cup of tea on occasion. I used to be 100% a tea drinker, but coffee took over… And i agree, tea bags are fine, but nothing beats fresh, loose leaf. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I drank tea-bag tea by the gallons for years because I liked it and it was free at work, but I decided to try loose leaf just once and never looked back. Thanks for stopping by Trent.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was a very enjoyable read. I used to drink lots of tea in my youth but lately I’ve come over to coffee more and more, and I have a fantastic espresso machine and grinder for it. I used to buy lots of special teas which is very popular in Sweden where I’m from. But I’ve sort of lost that habit especially since we moved to Ireland, because that tea culture doesn’t exist at all. However there are some very good “standard” teas here and we only drink Barry’s tea mostly in loose leaf form. All the flavoured teas were always loose leaf, they were simply sold that way only, and I think loose leaf seems so much more fresh than tea in bags. However, a couple of Scandinavians have opened a tea shop in my town, so we’ll probably buy more from them eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susanne. Thanks for stopping by. I did not know that the tea culture in Ireland was so diminished. That’s really too bad as there are some great teas available just across the channel, but, now that I think about it, that may be part of the problem. I know I have some distant relatives there and my wife has many, but we’ve never found a way to make a visit happen. Expense, jobs, children all that would be needed, never lined up. Perhaps as we approach retirement. . .
      If we do visit, not being able to get a good cup of tea would be annoying, but I’ll bet there is plenty of good beer — but of course that meets a whole different need. It’s always great to hear from you each weekend.
      Blessings.

      Like

  10. This is so interesting! I am a true coffee addict, since I drink it but don’t even really like it. I love green tea too, but rarely drink it nowadays. I don’t care for black tea. As for herbal teas, I at one point had a large collection of loose herbs, but they weren’t really well-packaged and I didn’t use them often enough, so they expired. Anyway, I’ll give your tips some more thought and may try to get into more tea drinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Astrid. I’m so behind on my own visits to coffee shares. I’m working on two stories that are progressing too slowly but I refuse to get behind on greeting those who stop by to chat with me directly. You always have something interesting going on and I love your visits.
      Before you dismiss black teas, look for a chance to try an Oolong tea. It is known to be a very mild yet flavorful tea with almost no bitterness. On weekends when I’m not “working” I do like to brew a pot of Oolong and just sip it most of the day. It tastes good but does not have that slap in the face factor that coffee and strong tea has.
      You never know – it might just be your soon-to-be favorite.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great – let me know how it works for you. It may still taste too much like black tea for you, but hey, think of it as research and wouldn’t it be fun if you found a new love for tea if it were oolong.
        Here’s hoping.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Goodness, Gary, I had no idea tea was complicated. I am a Tetley Tea gal. Brexit has put the Brits in a stew because we can’t get our teabags.. at one point I thought I’d have to drink green or hibiscus tea 🙂 PiPs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi PIP. It’s a good thing the ritual is fun but it is a ritual. And I think I’m too far removed from the UK theatrics to make wise cracks about either side of Brexit, but I am tempted because it was such a rhino trying to make a beautiful sculpture while inside a bath tub with a cloud of angry hornets flying around his face.
      Yea, let me make you a cup and we can sit back a watch this fiasco unfold.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I am pretty pedestrian when it comes to teas. I drink ice tea. I want to like hot tea, but it is somethingIi rarely drink. I may have skimmed it but i am from Massachusetts and always treat hot tea like hot coffee, so sweetener and creamer of some type. I like really good coffee, but I will drink almost any coffee. I like it strong and hot, with, go figure, sweetener and some type of cream. I generally drink two cups in a row and stop there. NO posts for me this week, we vacationed at a state park, no wifi, but lots of opportunities to catch up on reading. But I wanted to drop in and check out some of the posts. Blessings for he week, Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  13. While I am a dedicated coffee-drinker (decaf), I do enjoy a cup of Darjeeling or Earl Grey tea (also decaf). I used to be addicted to caffeine. If I didn’t have it by a certain time in the morning, I would get a headache. I weaned myself and would never go back. Now I am very careful to drink only the non-caffeinated version of coffee or tea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re a wise woman Laurie.
      I’m not much of a coffee drinker and while I love it, if I miss my tea occasionally it’s never much of an issue.
      Blessings

      Like

  14. I’ve never been a huge tea drinker, but I do like certain ones. I love my coffee…but like anything, the quality makes a big difference. I do think tea has so many more varieties and flavors. I prefer to drink tea iced, but will drink it hot as well. I suppose it just depends. my naturapath actually suggested I drink some nettle leaf tea because of the benefits it has. I loved this post. So insightful and informative.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As I was scrolling through the comments I was so surprised to find that I am not the only one that doesn’t like hot drinks! In a pinch I will drink hot cocoa or tea in winter when I really need to warm up and I do enjoy hot sweetened tea when my throat hurts but I much prefer iced tea (and never coffee– hot or cold). By the way– I like the blog layout and the clean design you’ve chosen!

    Liked by 1 person

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