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Your lovable Tea Princess here calling to all you Tea Princesses and Princes out there to hear of my struggle with the Keurig Machine (no, not my own … please! I would never! … but the one at a local office waiting room we had the misfortune to have to sit in for about an hour). You may just avoid being in the situation we were. If so, my good deed for my lifetime has been done.

K-cups left this Tea Princess wanting! (ETS image)

K-cups left this Tea Princess wanting! (ETS image)

Coffee making was never the same after the Keurig machine was introduced. For some it was a very dark day and for others the best day of their lives. To each his own. And I had no issue with such machines, not being a coffee drinker, until they invaded my “tea turf.” They introduced those K-cups filled with teas.

Let me interject a note at this point: The company that owns this blog has some of those tea-filled K-cups for sale. They carry British faves like Earl Grey and English Breakfast plus a few others. So, I am trying to keep that in mind. But, hey, as a Tea Princess, I have to do my duty to you all. On with the story…

Setting aside the whole issue of all the excess materials used to make a K-cup (there are now refillable cups, so you at least have the benefit of reusability plus being able to fill them with whatever you prefer), I want to address the tea quality and how it relates to my “tea princess” standards, which is for you reading this the whole issue here.

Our story: We show up for an appointment at this office (it was for a review of our homeowner’s insurance to see if we could get a better deal) and were told that someone had just walked in a minute or two ahead of us so the agent decided to talk to him and the guy at the reception desk asked us to wait. We were exactly on time, by the way, so this was rather rude. But I digress.

The waiting area had a Keurig machine. Not too unexpected these days, especially since we had seen one a year or so ago in a car repair shop waiting room (written about on this blog here). The selection of cups was mostly for coffees, with some cinnamon-flavored tea and a couple of herbal-filled cups. Desperate for a cuppa (yeah, I know, I shoulda brought my travel mug filled with tasty tea from home with me, but that would have made us late for the appointment and we would have had to sit and wait…uh, hey, that’s what we ending up doing even though we were on time… sigh!), I selected the cinnamon-flavored tea (by a fairly well-known tea company out there). The results still make me shudder to think about…oops! getting ahead of myself here.

The way a Keurig machine operates, versus something like a Mr. Coffee and Mrs. Tea or even things like the IngenuiTea, is that hot water is forced through the substance (coffee, tea, herbals, whatever) at a temperature just below that liquid becoming steam and at a fairly high rate of speed. If you know anything about tea, you know that tea needs time to infuse, that is, the tea (whether dust, fannings, broken, or whole leaves) needs time to interact with the water. Some teas need as little as 20 seconds. Others need as much as 10 minutes. The average is about 3 minutes. Well, that Keurig machine blasted out a cuppa in about 10 seconds. For this type of tea, the vendor recommends 2 to 5 minutes. You can just imagine what the results tasted like, but in case you can’t, I’ll tell you that it was like drinking a cuppa cinnamon with no tea flavors there at all. Even that powdered creamer and a packet of sweetener couldn’t help.

If I’d had any idea how long we would have been sitting there waiting for the appointment that got pre-empted by a walk-in, I would have gone back home with hubby to prepare a proper cuppa!

The lesson here: Always bring that tea with you!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Twinings English Breakfast K-Cups. Have you tried them yet? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Twinings English Breakfast K-Cups. Have you tried them yet? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

One of the things I’ve learned over the course of many years of drinking, studying, and writing about tea is that everyone likes what they like and there really is no one correct way to do things. Of course, there are certain useful guidelines to follow if you want the best cup of tea – such as don’t oversteep or overheat your tea – but, when it comes to the mechanics of making tea, there are many ways to get the job done. A gongfu fancier might cringe at my practice of heating water in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave and steeping in a gravity-type infuser but it works well for me.

Having put in my plug for all of this goodness, light, and tolerance, I’m now going to respectfully say that I don’t think K-Cup tea will be on my menu anytime soon. That’s okay and neither will Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong, or milk, lemon, and sugar, now that you mention it. That’s just a matter of personal preference. Of course, I haven’t actually tried a K-Cup of tea yet and so maybe I’m going off half-cocked but I can see a few reasons why I’ll stick with my current process.

If you’re like me and you haven’t really kept tabs on the K-Cup it might help to know that it’s a technology developed by Massachusetts-based company Keurig in 1998. At their Web site the company claims that “we’re the leading single cup brewing system in North America.”

Something else you’ll see at the site is that a fair amount of the content seems to be rather coffee-centric, although you can check out some of the other products here and here, including tea, hot chocolate, and more. Which would be my primary reason for not becoming a K-Cup drinker. Like many other American tea drinkers, I’ve pretty much grown accustomed to the fact that tea is something of a poor cousin to coffee, and I’d be fine with that if there was a wide selection of the teas I wanted to drink in K-Cup form. Given that I like to try as many premium single-estate teas – especially black and green – as I can get my hands on, I don’t see that happening.

The other major issue for me would be the gadget factor. I’ve tried a number of high-falutin’ tea gadgets so far, some so “automatic” that they do almost everything but pour the tea in your mouth, and I liked some of them quite a bit. But for me, the so-called convenience of using such gadgets doesn’t really do much for me, and I typically revert back to the tried and true method that I mentioned above.

Which works quite nicely for me but it might not for you. Maybe you’ll find K-Cup tea to be the greatest thing since sliced bread or the wheel. Which is great, and to you I’ll simply say “bottoms up.”

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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