It certainly isn’t a secret that quality loose tea is finally growing in the US, however I’ve spoken with many folks that want to get into tea but simply feel overwhelmed with all the nuances of loose leaf. My friends and family often dismiss even thinking of trying to get into loose leaf when they see me carefully eyeing up the amount of leaves I use, or giving my water a little temperature check before pouring it over the leaves. These, however, are details I pay attention to only after being a tea drinker for 5 years. I certainly didn’t start out that way.
During my freshman year of college in 2005 I decided to pick up a box of bagged Lipton Orange Passion Fruit and Jasmine Green Tea for some studying I had to do that evening. I heated the water using our half working dorm room microwave and most likely over steeped the tea. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Because I probably bought the tea for it’s unique flavor, I searched online for other odd flavors and blends of tea. This is how I stumbled upon the world of loose leaf tea. When my loose leaf green tea sampler came in the mail I was blown away by how much more flavor this packed than my box of Lipton. I have been learning about and respecting tea ever since.
The beautiful part about tea is how simple it really is - leaves and water. Almost all tea companies will give you a recommended brewing length and temperature that you can follow, but remember this isn’t the end-all-be-all. Make and enjoy tea for you. I know plenty of folks that enjoy what most of us would consider to be over-steeped tea and that’s perfectly fine.
Getting into tea right now is a great time because there are so many passionate tea lovers that just want to help new tea drinkers out, and the internet helps us do that. Tons of tea company founders and employees as well as great tea bloggers are highly active on twitter and will certainly point you in the right direction (including myself @calebrown). So welcome to the tea world!