How It Started
A few years back, the place I was working in had absolutely awful coffee and no alternative places to go. Industrial "Park"!
I realized that, if nothing else, brewing tea gave me a fresh hot drink instead of something sitting for hours in a pot that was never cleaned.
At first, I just used the bags. It was all I knew. But, eventually, I tried loose tea in a ball. That was better, and worked for me for a little while, but I soon was disatisfied with that: the leaves became swollen and water didn't circulate properly.
So I got a one-cup brewer. A mesh insert went into the mug or cup, I spooned in loose leaves, pour in boiling water, and 5 minutes later: tea!
Soon, store bought tea wasn't good enough anymore. I got the Upton catalog and began to order samples.
I bought and read a dozen and a half books. I lusted for, and still do, Uker's two-volume "All About Tea". (Want a surprise? Check the price for that on Alibris.)
I bought a tea-taster's kit and spent days compare one kind of Chinese Green with all the others. Then Indian Black teas - Assams, Darjeelings, you name it.
The one-cup brewer wasn't enough anymore. I got a tea-pot. Just a 3 cup pot, but it wasn't long before I bought a second one. You see, tea has to be brewed just so. It must be loose and free to dance around in the hot water, free to release all that theobromine and tastey tannins.
Because, it takes two pots to brew a brew tea; a brewing pot and a serving pot.
Boil the water, pour a bit into the brew-pot, cradle the pot in your hand until it's too hot to hold, and then pour the water into the serving pot.
Then, spoon the big, loose, leaves into the warmed brew-pot. Pause a moment, hold the pot under your nose to savor that aroma.
Then in with the boiling water and wait as the tea leaves brew. When the time is up (and don't let those leaves stew) pour the hot warer out of the serving pot and then strain the tea into the serving pot.
And then you have the kind of tea that built empires and, never again will you be satisfied with the "fannings", the scraps left over after the good stuff has been packed for shipment. That's what they put in the bags.
I bought a six-cup tea pot, with a cozy to keep the tea warm. Then a cast-iron pot for Japanese Green tea. Then a tiny clay pot for Chinese Oolong; tiny clay cups too. Next I'll buy that set for the tea-ceremony: you make the tea by whipping it!
You whip the tea.
Has anyone here tried the pu-ehr tea from China? It's fermented! The taste is odd and takes some getting used to, but once you've figured it out, a couple of cups is the equivalent of having a really great day.
Jasmine tea! White tea! Red tea!
I've been a bit OCD about this; my family and friends actually had an intervention for me. I humored them; drank their coffee-flavored battery-acid, nodded a lot, said "Hmmm!".
I went home and made myself a nice hot cuppa, Chinese green with Spearmint at 50-50. As they make in Morocco. Mellow, soothing.
What do those bean-heads know about anything? Truth is in the leaf, right?
Right now is a good time for some chamomile (not really tea, really an infusion, or tisane).
Yes! Tea time!