Good, inexpensive loose-leaf black tea

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Forgot to mention this in your Teavana post:

Also, with black tea, my suggestion is 5 grams per 8 oz of just about to start boiling water. 5 minutes is good for brewing.

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88 cents per ounce? Highway robbery!

For real value, you should be going directly to a tea plantation (preferably in the southern Indian highlands, but I am especially fond of Yunnan teas, too) and buying the stuff for pennies per kilo.

You’ll get this right eventually, Mark.


Give it a try at a lower temperature, like 180-200 deg F. Hard to do if you don’t have a regulated kettle, but the flavor can be sort of harsh with boiling water. I only steep for 5 minutes at lower temperatures. Especially with boiling hot water that’s enough time to add some bitters, which aren’t for me, but maybe other people like it that way.


I’d say a roaring boil with a three minute steep time; in blends, especially, I can taste the bitterness from the tannins after that point.

Also, I would never buy tea in that quantity because it will just sit around going stale.

To add yet another place for you, I get my teas from Upton Tea. They have a great selection, and most of the teas have been rated by their fastidious (and brutal) employees/customers. They send you free samples along with your order, too, which is always nice.

Edit: Oh, and not so much tea per cup. I use a rounded teaspoon, or ~3 grams.


Check out the small Iranian/Persian markets in West L.A. Huge bags of strong tea.


I always go to the “U-Pik-UR-OWN!” plantations. Costs more, but you really feel a sense of ownership over your cuppa afterwards.


Two pounds of tea is a hell of a lot of tea for probably most of us. I go through nearly two pounds in half a year though. For me, it’s probably the right amount. I’m not sure I could commit to drinking only one tea for six months though. :laughing:


I figure this is a good place to mention George Orwell’s “A Nice Cup of Tea” for anyone who hadn’t already read it.


thank you. that made my day.


All that article did was give me something new to get angry about people doing wrong. Thanks, Orwell.


If you’re using boiling water it should drop to around 200 degrees when you pour it into the tea. Hot water to cold pot/cup/tea and what have. I usually like to pour the water from a good height to take some extra heat out of it. But then that effect is mostly lost if you’re only doing a cup at a time.

I agree. At 5 minutes black teas can get bitter, or develop a weird buttery taste. 3 minutes is my general go to for any tea.

@frauenfelder If you like your tea strong. Try a bit more tea for a bit less time. You should be able to get it just as strong with less bitterness. Unless that’s what you’re after. Sometimes I want my tea to sit way too long and get all bitter and weird on me.


I like how you added this caveat, acknowledging that you will be given 100 different “correct” ways of brewing your tea. :laughing:

  1. There is very little art in making good tea; if the water is boiling, and there is no sparing of the fragrant leaf, the beverage will almost invariably be good. The old-fashioned plan of allowing a teaspoonful to each person, and one over, is still practised. Warm the teapot with boiling water; let it remain for two or three minutes for the vessel to become thoroughly hot, then pour it away. Put in the tea, pour in from 1/2 to 3/4 pint of boiling water, close the lid, and let it stand for the tea to draw from 5 to 10 minutes; then fill up the pot with water. The tea will be quite spoiled unless made with water that is actually ‘boiling’, as the leaves will not open, and the flavour not be extracted from them; the beverage will consequently be colourless and tasteless,—in fact, nothing but tepid water. Where there is a very large party to make tea for, it is a good plan to have two teapots instead of putting a large quantity of tea into one pot; the tea, besides, will go farther. When the infusion has been once completed, the addition of fresh tea adds very little to the strength; so, when more is required, have the pot emptied of the old leaves, scalded, and fresh tea made in the usual manner. Economists say that a few grains of carbonate of soda, added before the boiling water is poured on the tea, assist to draw out the goodness: if the water is very hard, perhaps it is a good plan, as the soda softens it; but care must be taken to use this ingredient sparingly, as it is liable to give the tea a soapy taste if added in too large a quantity. For mixed tea, the usual proportion is four spoonfuls of black to one of green; more of the latter when the flavour is very much liked; but strong green tea is highly pernicious, and should never be partaken of too freely.

Time.—2 minutes to warm the teapot, 5 to 10 minutes to draw the strength from the tea.

Sufficient.—Allow 1 teaspoonful to each person, and one over.

TEA.—The tea-tree or shrub belongs to the class and order of Monadelphia polyandria in the Linnaean system, and to the natural order of Aurantiaceae in the system of Jussieu. Lately it has been made into a new order, the Theasia, which includes the Camellia and some other plants. It commonly grows to the height of from three to six feet; but it is said, that, in its wild or native state, it reaches twenty feet or more. In China it is cultivated in numerous small plantations. In its general appearance, and the form of its leaf, it resembles the myrtle. The blossoms are white and fragrant, not unlike those of the wild rose, but smaller; and they are succeeded by soft green capsules, containing each from one to three white seeds. These capsules are crushed for oil, which is in general use in China.

[Illustration: TEA.]

This is the technique used by Bertie Wooster.


Can you please tell me where you got that mug? I have a similar one I got as a set made by Primula. I love love love my mug, and I fear the day that it becomes broken. I will buy another set from Primula ($15-17) if I have to replace it. But If it can get a similar product somewhere else for less; I would be equally happy. I like using the glass because it does not stain as easily.

I was going to say, I’m not a super knowledgeable tea person, but that’s my experience. I use boiling water because I have a normal “whistle” kettle, and I get tannins/bitters at 5 min. I’ve been doing 4 minute steeps on black teas and that tastes better to me.

the bulk tea I get from the co-op tastes great and I seem to recall comparing to supermarket prices and thinking there was value to paying the co-op price, but I cannot remember my specific cost-vs-quality numbers.

I’ve also been drinking a lot of semi-cheap tea I got from the giant asian supermarket and it seems pretty good, but again I’m not the “tea guy,” I just know tea in bags all tastes like crap.

I have “Royal King” brand but in a yellow tin.

Walong marketing: Asian Taste Ding Dong Oolong tea

the leaves are balled up like gunpowder but it says oolong? I dunno, but it’s good and fairly cheap, and the canister is airtight glass. and it says “ding dong” on it (`ー´)ヘヘーン


If you get some practice in, you can tell when your water’s about ready for your taste by the size of the bubbles, actually. That’s what I do in my unregulated kettle.

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In Chinese cooking, they refer to the various stages as: ‘shrimp eyes’, ‘crab eyes’, and ‘fish eyes’.


Yeah, that’s how i learned it. I just can’t remember the temperature associations so I stayed quiet on the topic.

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Simmer, boiling, rolling boil.

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