Sunday, March 15, 2009

A very brief note about tea

UPDATE: Sympathy for the Kettle (mentioned below) will be closing soon :(.

If you are a tea drinker, casual or otherwise, or even if you are thinking of trying it out, I have a serious recommendation. Please go buy some loose tea. You might think it is expensive, but if you measure out tea-spoons and make it by the pot, you'll realize that 4oz lasts 4-ever. Both the fragrance and the taste are improved over Loosey's more popular brother Bagged Bullshit.

Then, get to know your varie-teas. There is a lot of variation between the crazy herbal concoctions and the standard white, green, and black (serial comma say what!). Some taste like smokey dirty, for the double breasted suit wearing, pipe smoking, scotch drinker in you; while others taste like rose petals gently floating on the wind for the dandy fruit in you. To say "I don't like tea" is akin to saying "I don't like cheese," it's foolish--in a category that large there has to be something for everyone.

Don't know what's what? That's fine, You should go to a special-tea shop. The crappe you'll get at the grocery isn't really loose tea anyway. You need to get something that's sold in a huge tin that you can smell before you buy it. As a double bonus, you'll have a variety so huge that you'll have to ask the specially trained professional what's what. You'll probably get asked some questions like "do you want caffeine or not?" or "what sort of things do you like to taste?". Then they'll make some recommendations and you can smell them. I'd suggest getting a couple of different sorts in the smallest variety possible to see how they work.

Also, a brief note on caffeine. There are two different shapes of the caffeine molecule. The one in tea is metabolized slower by the body than the one in coffee. This means it is basically a time-released drug that leads to a smoother high. You won't get the great up that I like so much, but that gives people the jitters, and you won't get that horrible crash that makes you wish you were either in bed or drinking more coffee.

Finally: here are a couple of recommendations: tea spot which is just south of Washington Square or my favorite Sympathy for the kettle on St. Marks. They're great because I've left K funny messages about what happens there, they make their own blends (try Dorian Grey ... it's an earl grey with lavender and it's amazing!), and they have some pretty awesome tea serving toys.


Z said...

Might I also suggest Lady Mendl's for fancy-ass tea with assorted scones, etc. If you want Japanese-style tea (by that, I mean both a Japanese interpretation of English-style teas and traditional Japanese ones... basically an entire post in itself), you should go to the fabulous Cha-An on Stuyvesant and 4th. Cha-an also has ridiculously delicious scones that have IMO the best clotted cream in New York.

Z said...

Oh, there's also Tea and Sympathy, run by expatriated Brits, in the West Village. Be warned that they do not accept reservations, and they won't let people join you in the middle of your tea, if friends happen by (basically they have a lot of fancy rules). The tea's awesome though.

eLs said...


Tea Spot is still my favorite, but I'll miss SftK so very, very much...alas.

Eric said...

I have enough trouble understanding why some people are so against the serial comma, but people who don't like CHEESE? Who are these people?

And yes, I agree whole-heartedly with your loose-is-better-than-bagged argument. It should be noted, however, that those converting to Loose will need to invest in a tea/spice infuser. Which is not only very cheap but can also be used when brewing some spiced cider!