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Total Tea Newbie

... So this is what this place looks like? I was expecting long tapestries hanging from the walls, deep brown overstuffed leather chairs, a fireplace crackling quietly to itself on a far wall, a piano and a harp waiting peacefully in a corner...

In all seriousness, this is a new subforum to me, and I would like to formally introduce myself here by asking--what I assume are--the standard newbie questions. Bare in mind, I know NOTHING of tea or associated pleasures outside of an enjoyment of the cheap, dunkandsoak, prepackaged, filtered, grocery store variety. I submit the following to the B&B tea gurus:

  1. What kind of terminology is associated with tea/coffee?
  2. What are the benefits of loose tea over prepackaged filtered tea?
  3. What is the shelf life of loose tea? proper care/storage of loose tea?
  4. What kind of equipment do I need, assuming I have NOTHING to start with?
  5. Where do I buy said equipment? Locally? (South Florida) Online?
  6. What are the differences between white, green, black teas? What other variations are there?
  7. Where can I get a sampler to find what kind of teas I like? Hopefully one with enough tea to afford some error in the brewing (is that the right word?) process?
  8. Have I asked too many questions? Are there other questions I should be asking?

If there is a mantic-esque series of videos/tutorials someone could reference that answer these questions, please point me in that direction. If not, I know the encyclopedic knowledge of B&B will shine through in my hour of newbie need, thanks in advance for the answers and advice!
 
1. Well, sounds like you are focused more on tea. So, I would suggest a trip to wikipedia or wikicha for lots of information on pu-erh, green, white, black and some other varieties of tes.
2. You will think that you have never experienced tea if the only thing you have had is bagged tea once you try loose tea.
3. Green and white teas tend to degrade past one year. Oolong teas will be good into the two year period. Pu-erh teas have an indefinite shelf life and tend to get better the older they are (somewhat like wine).
4. You can use a gaiwan for most any loose tea but you may want to filter it through a fine mesh strainer. A yixing pot is another choice and general wisdom is to only use one yixing for one type of tea. Yet another choice is to use something like this: http://www.adagio.com/teaware/ingenuiTEA_teapot.html?SID=7d84bbff5c7a80049c43d5e8629a03ed
You can also find a similar model at Teavana.
5. Hard to say what is available locally. But, almost anything you want is available online.
6. Suggest that you take a look at wikipedia or wikicha for answers to this. It would take too long to answer here.
7. Well, I have a fair number of sample available (check my signature line). However, I must warn you that the pu-erh teas require some attention. Infusion times are rather short and inattention to detail will create a rather bitter cup.
8. There are never too many questions.

Let us know if you have more questions after checking out some of the detail on wikipedia and wikicha.

There are a number of videos on www.sevencups.com that you may find of interest. It is a very educational site.
 
My tea knoweldge is crude at best, I can only attempt answer a few of your questions:

What are the benefits of loose tea over prepackaged filtered tea?
Loose tea is the cured and dried whole leaf. Pre-packaged stuff are the fines/dust of the leaves. loose tea will produce a much more pleasant flavor without a lot the bitterness.

[*]What is the shelf life of loose tea? proper care/storage of loose tea?
Kept in an air-tight container, away from light, loose tea will last 'til the cows come home. Or, probably at least a year.

[*]What kind of equipment do I need, assuming I have NOTHING to start with?
1) A plain 'ol teaspoon (so named because holding as much as it can, is the proper amount for one cup 'o tea). 2) a kettle, something to heat water (just below boiling for dark teas, a little less for light teas. 3) a tea pot, something to brew the tea in. I have a dedicated, small, inexpensive French Press. Don't use the same one for coffee, or else you will get coffee flavors in your cup. Loose tea can be re-brewed for 2 or 3 cups. You could also brew in the kettle (if water quantity is appropriate) and strain directly into your cup.

[*]Where do I buy said equipment? Locally? (South Florida) Online?
You probably already have everything you absolutely need, unless you want a dedicated pot/press.

[*]What are the differences between white, green, black teas? What other variations are there?
To my understanding, Green teas are unfermented/cured tea leaves. Black teas are completely fermented/cured. Oolong are partially fermented. White are unfermented, young leaves.
 
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ouch

Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
The difference between bagged tea and good tea is greater than the difference between canned goo and a disposble vs. Penhaligon's and a straight.
 

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Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
There are plenty of green, white, and black teas that can keep you busy for years. Then you can move up a notch to the wonderful world of oolong. Stick around long enough, and you may even find paradise in pu'er.
 
IMHO, loose tea is the only way to fly. Upton Tea is the vendor I always use. They offer a printed catalog packed with info (same for their web site) and will graciously answer any of your questions.
 
I am pretty interested in tea too, but I think it may have to wait til after my deployment. I don't know if I can get the stuff sent out here. Maybe I will get lucky and find a place that does Tea carepackages. We have some folks that send us cigars, maybe I will do a search and get lucky. . . Sorry for blabbing on your thread.
 
not to mention most loose leaf is Camellia sinensis from china, most bagged tea is from india and is Camellia assamica. though not all, I believe sinensis actually means from china, so the Indians have some of the same teas but since not from china they do get a different scientific name. Brewing loose leaf is a bit more involved, and to me part of the mega plus to it, as slowing down and brewing it is part of the experience, for a quick cup I still have a bagged tea every now and then, though usually when im out at a friends house. The biggest difference will be how you enjoy either or and what your looking for in a cup.
 

oc_in_fw

Fridays are Fishtastic!
not to mention most loose leaf is Camellia sinensis from china, most bagged tea is from india and is Camellia assamica. though not all, I believe sinensis actually means from china, so the Indians have some of the same teas but since not from china they do get a different scientific name. Brewing loose leaf is a bit more involved, and to me part of the mega plus to it, as slowing down and brewing it is part of the experience, for a quick cup I still have a bagged tea every now and then, though usually when im out at a friends house. The biggest difference will be how you enjoy either or and what your looking for in a cup.
Slowing down seems to be the main mantra of B&B. I think in today's world we need it.
 
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