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Tea geekery

I’m a green tea geek. Okay, no, honestly, I’m an aspiring green tea geek. I like the stuff a lot, but I don’t know much about it.

At my old job in the States, I regularly worked with several Chinese scientists. When they learned I liked green tea, they kept me supplied with it. Unfortunately, none of the containers had a word of English on them. This makes the learning curve really, really steep.

I’m posting this picture in the hopes that Bob (welcome home, Bob!) can help me work out what this is. It’s the last of my stash. Yellow cardboard box with red lettering, the same front and back. On the sides, small type that looks like instructions, maybe.

Boy, they sure go in for minimalist packaging over there, don’t they? Stupid FDA ruins our food package aesthetics.

After the second infusion, this stuff unfurls into a…a…shrubbery. Seriously, it’s like a freaking Christmas tree in a pot.

Meanwhile, I’ve been hanging out with these people. It’s like tea porn. Really, really expensive tea porn.

This is the one I’m drinking at the moment. Let’s see…£10 for 50 grams…28 grams in an ounce, buck sixty to the British pound, I make that somewhere in the region of $10 an ounce.

Ugh. Pass the Lipton’s, somebody.


Comment from mojo
Time: May 7, 2012, 9:45 pm

The Chinese are really stingy with the green. Black, they’ll sell you all you can carry, but not the green. They keep that for themselves.

Kinda like the Russkies and Petrovich vodka.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 7, 2012, 9:51 pm

I put the lettering through a translator., It says: “Buy one get one free”.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 7, 2012, 10:12 pm

Yeah I love green tea, but its never as good as what you get at a good Chinese restaurant. Frustrating

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: May 7, 2012, 10:30 pm

I’ve seen that box.

Unleashing my inner Bloodhound

Comment from Deborah
Time: May 7, 2012, 11:04 pm

Do you put anything in the tea? Lemon?

Comment from xul
Time: May 7, 2012, 11:28 pm

Sounds like what they call “gunpowder” green tea. Whole leaves rolled into little BB’s then dried. They unfurl after steeping. That’s the good stuff IMO.

Comment from USCitizen
Time: May 7, 2012, 11:28 pm

$10 an ounce used to buy a different type of ‘tea’. Except we never thought about boiling it in water back then.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 7, 2012, 11:32 pm

The flavors of a lot of these teas are very delicate, Deborah, and it’s so eye-wateringly expensive, I tend not to add anything.

With the cheaper stuff, though, I would often make it very strong and put a dab of sugar in it. I like it a bit bitter, to be honest.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 7, 2012, 11:34 pm

If you got it for ten bucks an ounce, you’re older’n me, USC. That, or you bought crap herbals.

Check out the link, xul. Gunpowder is one of the varieties, but there’s an amazing range of shapes and styles. Including ones that open out into these amazing flowers.

Glass teapot for those. You have to wonder how much of that is gustatory and how much is purely visual.

Comment from Mitchell TAFKAEY
Time: May 8, 2012, 12:07 am

Woo-hoo tea pr0n! I got all snobbery with it after I discovered the Teavana shop in a mall on the strip. Lots of nice teas in there (check out http://www.teavana.com) Is your tea like one big ball or buncha smaller ones? They have the big blooming balls.

But then I disovered Shang Tea (www.shangtea.com) and their teas are better than any of Teavana’s. I’d guess shipping would probably be prohibitive though.

Comment from Oceania
Time: May 8, 2012, 12:15 am


Comment from EZnSF
Time: May 8, 2012, 12:42 am

Have you tried Monkey Pick green tea?
It’s my new favorite. I drag a Chinese speaking co-worker with me to the (real) Chinese tea shop every couple of months. Tea if fun. It brightens a computer screened work day. Email me, I’ll send you a sampler.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: May 8, 2012, 1:58 am

I bring tidings of Meh.

The label on the box says, “carefully selected tea.” The large character at the bottom is “tea” again, but stylized to convey ages of tradition.

A scan of the side might be helpful.

Don’t worry though, I stopped by the asian market we drive past on our way to work and they had 50-plus varieties of green. There’s several others in town, and an asian supermarket up in Portland with 600 aisle-feet of different teas. There are also a few world-class tea merchants in town.

I’m sure we’ll something you’ll like even better.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: May 8, 2012, 2:13 am

Oh! Any tasting and olfactory notes would be helpful as well.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: May 8, 2012, 2:36 am

Funny story:

A few years ago, missus came back from the one of her visits to China with a 2000 RMB (300 dollar) half-kilo of “Executive Theraputic Tea” It promised to cure overweight and high blood pressure. It was mostly high quality green with some botanicals.

She suggested I should take it to work and have it in lieu of my afternoon coffee.

I tried it a few times, and decided that any weight loss or antihypertensive effects were due to the projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea.

I shared my concern with my wife. She said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you, you need to throw the first water out. It gets rid of most of the strychnine.”

Well, I washed off the poison after that. It was mighty fine tea, but I don’t think it reduced my weight, or my blood pressure.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: May 8, 2012, 2:39 am

Have there always been that many varieties of tea? I’m not speaking of flavorings, but of actual tea species/hybrids and whatnot, I have zero horticultural/tea-ologist knowledge, so I’m not entirely certain what jargon to use. I’ve seen lots of different herbal teas that aren’t actually tea leaves, but I find it interesting that this particular market has grown so much in the past decade. I was looking for discount bulk coffees and sidled over to the tea pages and was astonished at how much it cost. I had, wrongly, always assumed that tea was a cheap alternative to the much superior coffee. I’m a primitive, I know 😀

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: May 8, 2012, 2:55 am


Every village had their own climate, soil and style of preserving the leaves.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 8, 2012, 2:57 am

Thing is, Feynmangroupie, it’s really difficult to figure out how to do a one-on-one comparison between tea and coffee. If you take a volume of coffee, and a volume of tea of equal weight, the tea (a much greater volume, ‘specially if the coffee is still whole bean) will actually make more cups of tasty drinkable liquid than the coffee, although exactly what the proportions are depends on many factors. . .not excluding who can argue the loudest and longest. And each cup of tea will contain considerably less caffeine, although there is some measure (I think it is per ounce unbrewed) by which tea significantly exceeds coffee in caffeine content. The tea-to-coffee comparison is one of those equations in which the variables are so numerous and so. . .variable that you just can’t come up with a fixed, inarguable solution. And, um, Lipton’s tea is probably a cheap alternative to almost any coffee currently on the market–and Lipton’s (particularly the Lipton’s on sale in Asian foodmarkets in America, which appears to have been packaged in Asia, and which does not involve tea bags–a BIG plus in my estimation!)actually makes pretty good tea. Well, particularly pretty good sun tea, which is the only sensible way to make iced tea. . .

[Ducks and covers]

Comment from xul
Time: May 8, 2012, 3:15 am

Hmm, quite a selection there. I consider myself somewhat of a tea connoisseur but I’ve never seen the the flowering variety before. I have been enjoying yerba mate for the past two weeks. It has a caffeine content between green tea and coffee and a lot less tannins than regular black tea so it doesn’t stain my teefs so much. 🙂 And as a bonus I’ve lost four pounds!

Comment from Frit
Time: May 8, 2012, 3:25 am

Here is an FAQ on tea, if you’re interested, Stoaty:

Also, at the risk of being tossed into the spam filter, here is a (relatively affordable) green tea that I particularly like (I am also a green tea fan):

Enjoy! 🙂

Comment from EZnSF
Time: May 8, 2012, 4:10 am

@ Can’t hark etal
Speaking of coffee: For F*#k sake it’s gotten expensive in the last few months. Bought a can of Yuban (cheapest on sale) and can barely swallow the sour mouth-puckering swill. Folgers? $12 a can? He’s a cruel God.

And as an aside: French press coffee makers suck beyond belief. Fucking French and their chewy, cloudy, coffee. Damn hipster appliance link$.

A tablespoon of loose leaf tea, even the more pricy stuff, lasts me two strong mugs in the morning and three weaker mugs through the afternoon. Pricewize, a bargain. Not that I could drink five cups of coffee in a day.

Comment from Nina
Time: May 8, 2012, 4:25 am

I don’t like coffee at all, in any form even coffee flavor. Barfed for days with the flu after drinking Kahlua when I was a teen, and even aside from the bitter (unlike the Stoatress, I do not like bitter, which is why I don’t drink beer, either) I always thin of that when I taste coffee anything.

Tea I can drink if it’s not too bitter, and I prefer green tea to black. But I’m white trash enough that I’m really happy with a Diet Coke, much to the dismay of my son who is so cosmopolitan and sophisticated that he just.does.not.get his very odd mom.

Speaking of kids, looks like I’ll be in England the month of July, mebbe into the month of August. If I get to drive down to meet’chall there at Badger manor, I’ll try to smuggle a bottle of mead in my luggage for you.

And gah, the last few weeks so totally SUCK.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: May 8, 2012, 4:30 am

I’m one of those people who prefer coffee that is the color of crude oil and about 12 degree cooler than a coronal mass ejection.

I grew up drinking Lipton sun tea and sneaking coffee from the pot after my mother made it. Apparently, my grandmother gave me coffee to counteract the wall-bouncing antics of a hyperactive toddler. Supposedly caffeine has a paradoxical reaction in some children, who are should otherwise be restrained and kept in a cage. I’ve loved coffee since I was able to handle a chair and climb up to the counter.
I am a coffee snob, as much as my budget allows me to be.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: May 8, 2012, 7:02 pm

Another funny story:

The very wealthy engineer who buys us all our really expensive tea was in town to visit his grandchildren, so we took him and his wife to Crater Lake. They packed a nice picnic lunch including a few thermoses of their very favorite tea.

It turned out to be Lipton!

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: May 8, 2012, 7:05 pm

BTW: I’m a coffee hound. The worst part of being in China was drinking instant coffee.

I did have two cups of brewed coffee while in my wife’s hometown. They cost me fifteen bucks.

Comment from Deborah
Time: May 8, 2012, 7:17 pm

I am already addicted to fresh ground Kona (husband thinks it would be cheaper to buy me a Kona plantation). I love delicious tea, but I can’t see trading one addiction for another.

Comment from Nina
Time: May 8, 2012, 8:52 pm

Bob, some decades ago my inlaws visited England and whilst there, went shopping to purchase some authentic British tea to bring home to my MiL whose mother was born in Stratford upon Avon. Every time they’d ask an Englishman/woman what tea they’d drink they’d just say “Oh, any old tea, nothing special really.” The ‘laws were convinced that there must be SOME special English tea drunk by actual British people, so they went to a grocery and asked for tea. They were asked what kind, and they said “We want the tea that British people drink.” The clerk took them to the tea aisle and pointed out…yep, LIpton’s.

Needless to say they were so disappointed.

(sucking down a Diet Coke after work)

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 8, 2012, 10:25 pm

Well, I washed off the poison after that. It was mighty fine tea, but I don’t think it reduced my weight, or my blood pressure.

Sounds like not washing the tea would have reduced the heck out of your weight though.

Comment from Nicole
Time: May 8, 2012, 11:31 pm

Life is too short to drink bad tea. Sometimes you get what you pay for. 🙂

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: May 9, 2012, 7:11 am


I’m in Japan right now and wifi is a bit off and on as I move around, so I’m a bit late to the (tea) party. However if you see this and would like I’d be glad to get some nice Japanese Matcha for you. It won’t uncurl into pretty patterns but it makes a nice cuppa. Just send me a note if you would like it and I’ll mail it as soon as I get back to the states in another 10 days or so. I’d mail it from here but the logistics of international mailing from a Japanese post office are a bit beyond my capabilities. The tea itself is very easy though and anyhow I owe you if for nothing else your determined ability to post something new every day.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 9, 2012, 9:42 am

What the Sam Hill are you doing in Japan, Some Veg? That’s a very kind offer…

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: May 9, 2012, 5:42 pm

Feynmangroupie @May 8, 2012, 4:30 am Supposedly caffeine has a paradoxical reaction in some children…

I am personally immune to caffeine – it has no effect on me. I knew a chap once who said it put him to sleep. We were standing and chatting after a meeting, I suggested we go somewhere for coffee, and he said if he had coffee he’d be unable to drive home. He added that when he was doing drugs in college with his buddies in the 1960s, they would test the LSD on him first. If he fell asleep, they knew it had been cut with amphetamines.

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