5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Tea

One does not spring fully formed into this world knowing everything there is to know about tea. It would be nice, but it doesn’t work that way. In my own case I was more than four decades along before I even started drinking the stuff. Then it was quite a few years before I started to pick up on many of these choice little tidbits that follow.

So, here they are, in no particular order of importance. They’re all pretty important, if you ask me.

1 You Get What You Pay For, Good Tea Is Worth It, Expensive Tea Is Not Always What It Seems

Adams Peak White Tea - worth the price? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
Adams Peak White Tea – worth the price? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

I’ve lumped these three together because they’re related. To start with, you’ll find that you tend to get exactly what you pay for when it comes to tea, and a bargain may not seem like such a bargain once you get a taste of the cheap stuff. Which leads to the notion that good tea really is worth it. I’ve tasted some affordably priced teas that I wouldn’t use to water plants. If I hadn’t known that better stuff existed, they might have put me off of tea altogether.

Last of all, when you’re considering the price of a pound of tea, for example, consider that you can get about 200 cups out of it, if you’re going by the standard measure of 2.25 grams of tea per cup. If it’s anything other than black tea you should be able to resteep the leaves at least once and thus wind up with a minimum of 400 cups of tea. Do the math and suddenly what seemed so expensive takes on a new perspective.

2 You Won’t Find Really Good Tea in Your Local Grocery Store
I haven’t been in every grocery store on Earth, so this one’s a bit of a generalization and everyone’s definition of “good” tea is different, to boot. But I’ve been in my share of grocery stores and I stand by my position that the good stuff’s typically not there.

3 All Tea is Not Created Equal – and Should Be Prepared Accordingly
This is a huge one, and what it boils (oops) down to is that green, white, yellow, and many oolong teas are quite delicate by comparison to the likes of black and puerh and need to be prepared with lesser temps and steep times. Green tea is a delicate creature, and it started to taste a whole lot better when I figured this one out.

4 There’s No Such Thing As Good Decaf Tea
Another one that could be considered a matter of opinion, but I stand pretty firmly by mine. Caffeine and I don’t get on so well, but I’ve come to the conclusion that unless I want to sacrifice flavor I’ll have to live with it.

5 Don’t Believe What You Read
This could have several meanings, but I’m referring specifically to the instructions manufacturers put on their tea. My advice is to experiment and do what works best for you. The standard three to five minute steep that appears on nearly every package might work fine for someone’s black tea but I never go more than two minutes for mine.

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11 thoughts on “5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Tea

  1. Pingback: The Best of the English Tea Store Tea Blog in 2013 | Tea Blog

    1. A.C. Cargill

      Yeah, article author Bill Lengeman could probably have added quite a few items to his list, but our blog tries to keep things to a manageable length. 🙂

    1. A.C. Cargill

      Again, I would have to disagree. Whether steeping up 6 cups or 2 cups, my CTC Assam is steeped for 5 minutes (the article author Bill Lengeman prefers 2 or 3 minutes).

      1. A.C. Cargill

        Since the proportion of tea to water is the same for a 2-cup pot or a 6-cup pot, the steeping times are also the same.

      2. I think we actually agree on this; it’s just hard to express clearly in English! The brewing times for 2 cups or 6 cups would be the same if you triple the tea and triple the water for 6 cups compared with 2 cups.

        It’s expressed most clearly using math. The full formula is here: [link removed per blog policy]

        Again, I’m pretty sure we agree, just misunderstand each other!

      3. A.C. Cargill

        You may be right, James. I looked at your formula (had to remove the link from the comment, though). Looks like we just lost something in translation. Happy steeping and thanks for reading. 🙂

  2. Brewing time depends on the tea-to-water ratio.

    Ideal brewing time (minutes) = 16 x tanh^-1 (1.5 w ÷ T)

    w = water (litres)
    T = tea (grams)

    So, assuming a teapot with 750 ml water intended for 4 people (you say 2.25 g each), the resulting brewing time is 2 mins 1 sec.

    Try it 😉


    1. A.C. Cargill

      With all due respect, I would have to disagree. In my experience, the amount I am steeping does not affect the steeping time. I am sure the article author Bill Lengeman has had the same experience.

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