Fun 304: Drinking Tea

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Drinking Coffee

Tea should taste good, and will usually taste bad for a few reasons

  • The water to make it was lukewarm instead of hot
  • The tea was low quality
  • The tea was steeped for too long

Drinking tea is good for you

  • There are many studies validating all tea types’ benefits
    • Prevents various cancers and removes toxins from the blood stream
    • Prevents clogged arteries as a blood thinner
    • Helps entire circulatory system from increasing blood flow
    • Reduces risk of stroke
    • Reduces risk of neurological problems like stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
    • Flouride in the tea prevents tooth decay
    • Protects lungs from cigarette smoke damage
    • Expands the airways, helping asthmatics
    • Strengthens the immune system, prevents infections and an anti-inflammatory
    • Lowers cholesterol levels
    • Helps with weight loss
    • Keeps blood sugar levels in line
    • Stimulates relaxation
  • Tea is a lot lighter than coffee as a drink
    • The caffeine content of black tea is about 1/4 coffee’s
    • The staining effects of tea are significantly less than coffee’s

Get everything you need to make good tea

  • Find good tea
    • Grocery stores don’t usually have good tea
    • Tea shops have good tea, but look for the following:
      • Tea is stored in airtight opaque containers under subdued lighting
        • As opposed to tea stored in fancy non-airtight containers directly under lights
      • Staff is knowledgeable on teas
      • Atmosphere is tasteful and relaxed, not abundantly overloaded
      • Several dozen tea varieties
      • Wide variety of practical tea accessories, not fanciful
      • If the pastry display is bigger than the tea display, it’s not the right place
    • Buying tea online is a great idea, but the price and variety are ideal
      • Sample first before stocking up since it can’t be tasted until bought
    • Don’t buy teabags
      • The steeping process is impeded by the bags
      • Many times the bags are loaded with remnants of tea that didn’t sell as loose tea
    • Types of teas
      • There are over 1500 varieties from around the world
      • All but herbal teas are from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis
        • Black – pulled from the tea plant after the leaves have turned black
        • Pu-erh – fermented black leaves
        • Oolong – pulled from the plant halfway between black and green tea
        • Green – pulled from the plant while the leaves are green
        • White – made from the buds that show up on the tea plant
        • Herbal – everything else including chamomile, cinnamon, mint and lavender
  • Find good water that has a high oxygen content
    • Use tap water or filter tap water immediately before using
      • Bottled water has a plastic flavor and is low-oxygen
      • Distilled, boiling or boiled water doesn’t have minerals in it to capture oxygen particles
  • Heat the water
    • Electric water kettles are faster at heating water than a stovetop or microwave
    • With the microwave, set a toothpick into very pure water or else it will overheat instead of boil
  • Get a good teapot
    • The teapot resists having the tea cool down and is where it’s brewed
      • Cast-iron teapots can absorb and hold lots of heat
        • They can be very beautiful but also very expensive
      • Ceramic and porcelain transfer heat very slowly
        • They can be very colorful and are usually cheaper than iron
      • Other objects can be used as teapots, such as Pyrex measuring cups
    • A dedicated teapot will come with an infuser
      • An infuser is a small basket-shaped filter with an edge that sits inside the teapot
      • Don’t let it hold the tea during steeping, keep it as a strainer for later
      • Infusers impede the steeping process like teabags do
        • Tea needs room to spread out, and putting the tea inside the infuser inhibits the tea from spreading and allowing the water to circulate through the leaves
  • Get a good teacup
    • Ceramic cups are best to keep the tea hot
    • Small cups are quaint, but usually aren’t big enough for most people

How to brew good tea

  1. Start heating water – put in a little more water than will be made into tea, the tea leaves will soak up some water
  2. Preheat the teapot – Fill the teapot and teacup with hot tap water to keep heat from being lost later
  3. Wait for the water to boil – do the following right before it comes to a boil:
    • Pour the water out of the teapot, blot with a paper towel if preferred
    • Add tea to the teapot
      • About 1 tsp per 8 oz of water (it’s why it’s called a teaspoon)
        • For white tea, add 1.5 tsp per 8 oz of water
      • Use a real measuring spoon
      • Add extra for stronger tea, experiment to find preference
    • Add the water to the teapot:
      • Green – when bubbles first appear from boiling
      • White – shortly before it comes to a boil
      • Black, Oolong & Herbal – right after it starts boiling
  4. Steep for the appropriate amount of time – the longer it steeps the more bitter and stronger it gets
    • Green – 1-2 minutes
    • Oolong – 1-9 minutes
    • Black – 3-5 minutes
    • White – 4-15 minutes
    • Herbal – 5+ minutes (doesn’t get more bitter or stronger with more steeping)
  5. Ready the teacup – discard the water by pouring it over the infuser over the sink
  6. Pour the tea and drink – pour it into the cup through the infuser
    • Use a cinnamon stick as a stirrer for extra flavor
  7. Cleanup – used tea leaves can be composted or run through the garbage disposal
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