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Tea Chat with David

Hi Dunya,
Please recommend a tea that you love to sip that is just about always welcome in your mouth and belly.  I’d like to move beyond my constant coffee. I think the right pot and the right cup could help as well.
Thank you.
— David

Hi David ~
These are all black teas since I know nothing about green except that a good one probably can’t be had in America. I had Taiwanese green once properly brewed by a tea aficionado friend and it was so fabulous that I realized all the green dishwater I had been drinking year in and year out was pathetic. So I’ve stuck with my black tea from Wendell in Boston which tastes as good as anything I ever got in UK where even a crappy little cafe knows a great cuppa.

  • Lapsang Souchong is my favorite. It’s a smoky tea and the most full-bodied with a rich, almost rough flavor. (This might make leaving coffee easier.) Not everyone likes the smoky thing though…I drink it with milk and stevia. (Tea has the antioxidants, and stevia and milk are both good for teeth/gum health, though tea will stain tooth enamel, of course, but so does coffee.)
  • Any of the Breakfast teas are satisfying–English, Irish, Scottish. They are a tad sweeter than Lapsang Souchong while being robust and hearty. (Assam, Ceylon, & Kenyan blends.) They generally brew up a rich, deep color. (Love this great descriptor of Scottish Breakfast Tea from the English Tea Store —> Scottish Breakfast Tea delivers a rich and malty full bodied flavor with hints of oak.) I like the blends better than straight Assam or Ceylon (or Pekoe) which can be a little flat.

For the best taste experience, steep any of these loose leaf for seven minutes in a teapot. They’ll be deep-colored. For super strong tea (called Builders Tea) use more tea and brew longer. Lot of caffeine but it has the antioxidants as well.

A note: the finer cut the leaves, the darker the tea brews. If a tea is dried and left in whole leaves (like Oolong) it tends to brew paler. For the above teas, seven minutes is right regardless of the leaf size.

  • If you want a smoother, sweeter taste but retaining a dry edge to the flavor:
    Earl Grey or Lady Grey. These are black and scented (oil of Bergamot.)
  • For sweet, light, delicate tea:
    Oolong; there are many grades of Oolong And you can pay a lot of money for a good one, but I find the cheap ones fine. I don’t tend to drink oolong much — too sweet and perfume-y for me as a general taste — unless in the late afternoon when I want less caffeine. Though oolong has kept me up all night as well.

Yes, I don’t drink afternoon tea, because it will keep me up all night. So sad, since I’d love to be sitting down to a little ritual at 4pm. And don’t say ‘herbal tea’ because it just doesn’t make it for me. Even in a lovely tea cup! Sometimes a pot of really wonderful mint tea, full leaves not bits and pieces, with its soothing flavor and gold color will feel divine…

A good start. Let me know how it goes. I love to hear tea adventures!!!!

Wow, Dunya, you really came through on this one! I guess I asked the right person. Lots of great information.  Makes me really want to do it!  Is there a particular brand of Lapsang Souchong that you prefer ?  And brands for the other ones too ?   There are just so many out there.  And, so, stevia — it’s really for real, eh?  What’s your take on raw honey ?


I like China Lapsang Souchong from Mark T. Wendell Tea Company in Boston. (978) 635-9200. They have 2 types of Lapsang Souchong. This is the grittier one. (The other which is more refined is called Hu Kwa.) All their tea is top shelf.

But Twinings has a good LS too.

Raw honey? Delicious. But not in tea. It has too much personality.

Stevia is a lighter more neutral sweet. Natural, with no calories so there’s no extra sweetener buzz. I like the clear one which is a little less natural than the raw one but also less personality so the tea can shine through. Be careful not to put too much because it gets bitter right away!
And sugar. But I don’t like sugar really. It’s soooooo sweet. Gives me the creeps.

This is so much fun to try to express. Taste  is very personal, yes?

Sugar — I shudder just thinking about it.

Thanks for the great tips, my friend.  I’m gonna have to give it a try!  — that gritty Lapsang…hmmm…

Oh, and I really need to be moving my body.  But that’s another story.

Moving the body — yes, that’s another story!


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    1. valentina #

      Hi Dunya and David, I can’t resist mentioning my favorite, Turkish tea, brewed in a{I’m not sure of the real name} stovetop samovar .

      March 22, 2012
    2. Hi Valentina,

      I LOVE those samovars! Really different brewing idea. (The little teapot on the top and the hot water in the samovar, right? You put a small amount of strong tea in a cup or glass then add water.)

      March 22, 2012
    3. valentina #

      Hi , That is exactly the one I mean, I got mine at the local Turkish store.It has painted flowers on it. I have an old Russian samovar that actually plugs in and has a heating coil inside but it doesn’t work well {as well as truly being a fire hazard} I also got the lovely tea at the same store -I think it is caykur brand. It’s really delicious and grown without pesticides etc. I’ve seen it on amazon as well.Another sweet ritual that can transform my morning .

      March 23, 2012
    4. I’d love to see a photo of your samovar. Can you email one?

      March 23, 2012

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