Tea for Me (Please!)

Everything tastes better out of a dinosaur mug.
Everything tastes better out of a dinosaur mug.

Now that it’s officially the middle of summer, I’m trying to be good and drink enough to stay hydrated. Water has my go-to since I’m trying to limit my sugar intake, but sometimes I have a hard time drinking it. Don’t get me wrong, I love water but sometimes it just gets boring.

My solution? Tea! It has the lovely texture of water with a variety of flavors, no sugar unless I add honey, which I occasionally do, and there’s a caffeine option for those mornings when I just can’t seem to wake up.  I thought I would be put-off by drinking it hot in the summer, but it doesn’t seem to bother me.

Once again, my tea drinking is something that sets me apart from the rest of my family. None of my relatives of drinks more than the occasional glass of iced tea at a restaurant (that I’m aware of). I have had a few friends over the years that were tea drinkers but overall, this is an area of food preparation that I’ve had to explore on my own.

To be honest, I initially hated tea. The tea I had sampled as a child was always incredibly bitter and required way more than a spoonful of sugar before any of it went down. I avoided it for a while and treated it as one of those grown-up drinks that I never would understand. In college I started drinking herbal teas, like ginger and peppermint, to settle my stomach (this was before I knew about my food sensitivities so my stomach was unsettled all the time). Green tea soon made an appearance as a way to get caffeine that wasn’t from coffee as coffee made me incredibly jittery (and still does).

As I started to learn more about teas from the friend I was living with at the time, I learned about the importance of brewing times. All of a sudden green tea, which I had never been able to drink plain before, was pleasant. I realized that I had been brewing teas wrong and started to accumulate different types to try.

My current collection of tea.
My current collection of tea.

This acquisition of new teas to try reached a high point recently when I was give a ton (almost literally, kind of) of different types of tea to try. Some of them I had never heard of before. It’s exciting.

Here is the list of my new teas. As is usual, when I get something I don’t know anything about, I look it up. For the sake of brevity I’ve focused on brewing times, because as we learned, they’re important. The brewing times were very varied depending on the sites I looked at so I tried to include a range.

Oolong (Wulong)

Brew time: 4-5 minutes

Water Temp: 185-212F/85-100C

Number of Infusions: 2-4

Royal Yunnan

Brew Time: 5-7 Minutes

Water Temp: 195F/90C

Number of Infusions: 2

Japanese Green Tea

Brew Time: 2-3 Minutes

Water Temp: 180F/82C

Japanese Popped Rice Green Tea

Brew Time: 2-3 Minutes

Water Temp: 160F/71C

Number of Infusions: 2 -3

Sencha

Brew Time: 3-5 Minutes

Water Temp: 175F/80C

Number of Infusions: 2

Golden Monkey

Brew Time: 3-4 Minutes

Water Temp: 190F/88C

Number of Infusions: 1

Chinese Green Tea

Brew Time: 3 Minutes

Water Temp: 185F/85C

Silver Point (Tip) Tea

Brew Time: 4-6 Minutes

Water Temp: 175F/80C

Number of Infusions: 2-3

I’m still in the process of trying all of these teas. Some of them you can brew the same leaves multiple times and get a different tasting tea each time. So far, I think my favorite is the 3-4 brewing of Oolong, but the Japanese Popped Rice Green tea is good too.

I clearly still have a lot to learn about tea. Right now I’m curious about its applications for other cooking. I may experiment with how cooking rice in green tea instead of water changes the flavor and how adding black tea to dishes changes their flavor.

Sources of Information/ Places to Buy Tea

Art of Tea – Oolong, Japanese Green Tea, Chinese Green

Bellocq – Oolong, Royal Yunnan, Sencha, Silver Tip

Tao of Tea – Golden Monkey, (Brown) Popped Rice Tea

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