A Tea Addict's Journal

Better brewed in paper

April 9, 2010 · 1 Comment

These days I’m on the road a lot, and that means that I have to be expedient — can’t brew properly when I’m in a car driving, after all.  Paper cup + leaves is often the way to go, with refills on the way for hot water and hopefully, the water isn’t tainted by coffee, as it very often is.

What I’ve found sometimes though is that some teas are actually better brewed in a cup, grandpa style (it seems like this term is now in much wider circulation than I thought possible), than actually trying to make it in a smaller pot, etc.  Young puerh, especially, seems good for this treatment.  Whereas the tea may be very bitter and somewhat acidic when brewed intensely in a small pot, in a larger cup with a higher water to tea ratio, it actually can come out pleasant, with a nice but not overwhelming sense of bitterness, and the young tea’s acidity is not overpowering to the point where you wonder if you’re drinking drain cleaners.

Of course, there are tricks to the trade too.  You can’t drink it all before you refill — that’s disaster, because the next cup will be insipid, boring, and tasteless.  You are often better off drinking water at that point.  Also, you need a tea that can stand up to the sometimes coffee tainted water, so that if there’s that extra hint of java in there, you won’t notice it all too much.  A wonderful green can be destroyed if you add those kind of water in your cup.  I recommend a youngish (but changing) puerh or a roasty oolong.

The source of water is also important.  Some kinds of establishments are better than others vis-a-vis their water.  If you try to get water from a gas station, you’re pretty much doomed.  Starbucks is actually not a bad place, and they always give it to you for free.  Some places are stingy, like Dunkin Donuts, and want money from you for the water, which often tastes like coffee anyway.  I find it wasteful sometimes, but I will usually ask for a cup of hot water, rather than handing them my tea-filled cup — they are less resistant to giving you water that way, and at any rate, my “leaves floating in brown water” cup often leaves people wondering if I’m trying to do a science experiment.  Just like how kids no longer understand how meat comes from livestock, to a lot of people tea is that brown stuff you find in teabags, not whole leaves.

Time to go driving again, and today I’m drinking some of this.

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1 response so far ↓

  • Anonymous // April 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Reply

    I have a travel mug and I find it keeps too much of coffee or other tea flavors in it. When I travel with tea in it I try to stick to a tea that can handle boiling water, not anything sensitive that needs 80C or 70C. So greens are usually out.

    I found that yerba mate, although not tea, works great on the road, you can pack a bunch in the travel mug and keep adding boiling water to it directly.

    For green tea to avoid the boiling water issue I find you have leave tea and water in the cup like you suggested, about 1/4 of the cup’s volume such that when you mix that volume with a boiling volume your end result will be a solution of 70 to 85C. At least it is a lot closer to the tolerances. That said this trick doesn’t always work, some places boiling water is no where near boiling and it is hard to tell anyways. I read your grandpa tea blog post and that is pretty dead on.

    I wholly agree, travelling with black, pureh or yerba mate often does not disappoint and is the least complicated.

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