A Tea Addict's Journal

Entries from July 2009


July 29, 2009 · Leave a Comment

Moving with all this teaware is hell.

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Drinking tea with no leaves

July 27, 2009 · 9 Comments

I’ve voiced this before, but it happened again over the past weekend, and it really mystifies me.

Why do teahouses in the United States serve tea without giving you the leaves?

What I mean is, when you go to one of these establishments, you order your tea (in this case, Keemun).  They take your order, and give you a pot with a cup.  It’s an English style pot.  Nothing’s wrong with that, except that there are no leaves in there — just pre-infused tea.  I know this is probably not going to bother most people, and in fact, may even be great for most of the casual visitors to such establishments, but it annoys me, especially because these places often also promote themselves as serious teahouses.

Without seeing the leaves, I have no way of really controlling how the tea is brewed.  Most of the time, the tea comes out weak, slightly understeeped, and most important of all, there is no chance for redemption — you cannot resteep the tea, you cannot add more hot water, and you have no way to look at the wet leaves, because they don’t give it to you.  Perhaps I can ask for it, and perhaps they will entertain me, but I don’t think this should be necessary.  The ability to resteep leaves multiple times is, in my opinion, a fundamental distinction between tea and coffee, and the nuances and changes that a tea undergoes from infusion to infusion is a great part of the enjoyment of any particular brew.  Taking the leaves away deprives me of all that.

I can think of some reasons why a store may decide to do such things, for example

1) Shorten visits — if you can reinfuse tea, you are more likely to sit there for longer.  Bad for business, obviously

2) Likewise, the possibility of reinfusing tea means you are less likely to order another pot, which of course means less money

3) Some people are clueless as to how to make tea, so doing it for them removes the possibility that they will screw it up, think it’s bad, and never come back again

While 3 is a legitimate concern (and I suppose 1 and 2 are too, for different reasons), I find it hard to swallow.  A serious tea place, IMHO, should probably at least offer the choice of leaves or no leaves.  A universal no leaves policy leaves something to be desired.  Or at least, for me, that’s a rather disappointing thing to see in shops and teahouses.  Maybe I’m being too much of a purist, but I still think that if I am buying tea to drink, I am buying the leaves, not the infused product — especially if I’m getting charged $4 for it.

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Back at home…

July 23, 2009 · 3 Comments

Finally, after about two weeks, I’m back at home, drinking tea properly for the first time.

A few things I noticed on the trip

1) Tap water in places like Utah and Arizona are very high in mineral content.  When I boil them, oftentimes there are precipitation.  I have no idea what’s in the water, but since a lot of them come from aquifers, I guess this is no surprise.

2) Driving many hours in the car with the bag of aged oolong in my backpack under the scorching summer sun means that the tea suffered some heat damage — I can tell that by the end of the two weeks, the tea has at least changed somewhat.  Detailed testing to follow to see if this is just placebo or if the change was real.

3) As long as you have tea that can easily be made in a paper cup and a proper way to heat water, you can enjoy some pretty decent tea without anything else.  The most problematic issue all along is to secure hot water — it’s really hard to find it on the road, especially hot water that isn’t contaminated by coffee taste.

4) The Grand Canyon is very big

Categories: Old Xanga posts

New neighbour

July 8, 2009 · 1 Comment

We have a new neighbour who just moved in a week or two ago, and they’ve already had a few kids since then

On another note, I’ll be off for a bit going on a little family vacation.  I’d imagine that when I come back in two weeks, these kids will have grown some feathers already.

Categories: Misc · Old Xanga posts