Jim
@ February 4, 2009


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5
Let me tell you what's awesome.

Tea.

Not the stuff in bags. The stuff in bags is for dilettantes, for casual tea drinkers, for those who have not yet reached a state of Teavana.

And it's not hard to make. It's pretty easy, actually.

What Do I Need?

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  • Teapot (Mine is cast iron, and purple!)
  • Something to boil water in (mine is electric)
  • Tea (Masala Chai from Teavana for this pot)
  • A Timer (Mine is made by Apple, costs $80 per month to use, and is called an "iPhone")
Let me take a moment to tell you about my teapot. First off, it's purple. Secondly, it's cast iron. THIRDLY: IT WAS MADE BY 17 JAPANESE CRAFTSMEN. I know this is true because the man at the tea store told me so. This is why it costs $130. And that doesn't include the matching trivet.

What, you say, how much does it cost to make tea?

Well, you can get a tea-making device for much, much less money. You can even get smaller cast iron pots for $80 or so (for a 20oz... mine is a 24oz). In fact, I was going to get a cheaper one. But I just loved this guy when I saw him. He's so purple. He's got character.

Why cast iron, though? Well, if you cook with cast iron, you know that it gets seasoned. Bits of flavor of other things you have cooked tend to stay with it, forming a protective surface layer. The same thing happens when you make tea. The flavors and minerals and stuff stay with the teapot, making it better with age. Well, this is what Mark at Teavana told me. He was trying to sell me something. And he used "ironic" in the Alanis Morrisette sense of the word. As in "Oh, how ironic, my brother's name is Jim."

No Mark, that's a coincidence.

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See that metal basket? That's your infuser. The tea is going to go in there. You'll want to use about one teaspoon per 8 ounces. I use three heaping teaspoons for my 24oz pot, because I like my tea strong. FACT: IF YOU WANT STRONGER TEA, USE MORE TEA. Do not, DO NOT, just let the tea steep longer. That will just give you bitter, bitter tea. You don't want bitter tea.

Anyway, let's talk tea while you're boiling your water. What, you're not boiling your water? Get boiling, pronto!

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So, not all tea is tea. Herbal teas can be flowers or herbs, Roobios (a naturally low-caffiene red tea) is actually an African bush. For our purposes, let's just call everything that you can buy in a tea store and make in a teapot tea.

So far I've only gone tea shopping at Teavana. The girlfriend (Elisa, hi honey!) and I bought a bunch of different types, and they've all been good. Tonight I brewed up some Masala Chai, a traditional Black Tea (which is actually tea) Chai blend. It's bold, spicey, strong.

I also picked up some Sweet Cranberry Black (fantabulous) and Thai Tea (you know how Jesse loves Thai Iced Tea? This is better.) Elisa was a bit more adventurous, getting some of the Earl Grey Creme (approved by Jean-Luc Picard), Samurai Chai, Chamomile, and Peppermint.

Here's the Masala:

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Let me tell you how much I love the Samurai Chai. I wish I had a huge tin of it. I wish I could have it on demand. I just want to think "I'd like some Samurai Chai" and have a hot piping cup right in front of me. It's got dried fruit and almonds in it. It tastes delicious. Elisa has told me that it does not taste as delicious on subsequent drinking as it does on the first, because you are not as shocked at how amazing it is. I don't believe her.

Oh, hey, the water's almost boiled. You've spooned out the appropriate amount of tea into your infuser (that's the metal mesh thing), haven't you?  No?  Get cracking.. erm.. spooning.

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You should know, that different types of teas need to steep for different amounts of time and different temperatures. The Masala needs to go for 2 - 3 minutes at 195 degrees (Fahrenheit, of course. Screw the metric system). As we know, water boils at 212, so I just pour right from the electric kettle into the pot, and then cover promptly.

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This is what your tea will look like when it is covered in water. Be careful not to overfill, I bring the water line almost to the top of the pot, but if you put too much in, the tea will expand and all of a sudden water will be shooting out of the spout. Then you get to clean it up.

Listen: Cover the tea and let it steep for two three minutes!!!!

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Now, while your tea is steeping, let's talk about some of the other things I want to try. The first on my list, is a super-expensive tea with an amazing name. It's called Monkey Picked Oolong. It's not actually picked by monkeys anymore, but it used to be. Per the folks at Teavana: "Its legendary name refers to Buddist monks who trained monkeys to harvest the youngest leaves from the top of the wild tea trees."

This is why I freaking love crazy people. A bunch of monks, who can't be bothered to invent stepladders, instead decide to TRAIN MONKEYS TO PICK TEA FOR THEM. Of course, this monkey-picked tea doesn't come cheap. It's $25 for 2 ounces, which is more than four times as much as any of the other teas mentioned up to this point.

I also want to give some White teas a try. Again, Teavana's marketing: "White teas are appreciated by tea connoisseurs for their unmatched subtlety, complexity, natural sweetness, and delicacy." This sounds like something I'd like with some fruit flavor, like blueberry or peach...

And there are also giant balls of tea that turn into flowers when you add hot water to flavor your tea. I'm not making that up. That's got to be something you need to try at least once in life...

Oh, the three minutes are up! Pour your tea into a cup.

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If you're not going to pour your pot out all at once, remove the infuser. Ignore me and that second cup is going to be bitter. We don't want that.

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Now, cover that pot back up and enjoy your tea. Put the infuser in the sink or on a towel or something so it doesn't drip all over your table. 

Oh! Tins. I forgot about tins. If you don't plan on drinking all of your tea within seven days of purchase, you should keep it in a tin. This will keep it fresh for up to a year. So make sure you buy some tins when you buy your tea.

Now, get out there and brew some yourself. I demand it!


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Jim, this is great, but not everybody has a teapot with an infuser, or loose tea, or an iPhone. I tried to make Thai tea with none of these things yesterday, and it was a study in fail. Good thing I still have my Thai iced tea powdered mix!

Well, not everyone has a crock pot, but you need one to make pulled pork. Any sort of cooking/brewing activity requires some start up cost and effort.

That is absurd. OF COURSE everybody has a crock pot. Stop trying to change the issue.

Sadly, crock pots don't seem to exist in London.

DON'T... let a barista-or-whatever-the-fuck at a SF boutique-or-whatever-the-fuck coffee house infuse-or-whatever-the-fuck a cup of tea for you, because it will taste like flowers and twigs. Or whatever the fuck.

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