Coffee, Tea or Me – A Gadget Review

by blue midget

I enjoy a good hot cup of tea. Now, when most people read that sentence, they key in on the words “hot cup of tea” and forget the “good” part. Growing up, I was only exposed to Red Rose tea that my dad would make for me when I was sick. Suffice to say, dear old Dad isn’t known for his fine tastes in cuisine, so my knowledge of tea was a scalding hot mug of tea-tinted water with a half tube of honey squeezed into it. Not good.

By the time I had moved out of my parents’ house, I was a coffee drinker, through and through. For years I didn’t even think of tea. In fact, I looked down upon the millions of pansy tea drinkers around the world until a few years ago, when one of my Canadian friends introduced me to loose leaf teas. I remember having to wait for the water to boil and then for the tea to seep – at first I thought it was some goofy liberal tea ritual, but after drinking it (with a little bit of cream) I was absolutely amazed. It wasn’t remotely related to the watery crap I had as a kid, and, converted faster than Katie Holmes to Scientology, I have been in search of good tea ever since.


True tea snobs have always been, well, snobby about tea, not to mention tea-crusaders of sorts, defending the good name of tea, preserving the history of tea and fighting for truth, justice and, you guessed it, tea. I am interested in tea and curious about the how’s and why’s and I really want to know the comparison between bagged tea and loose leaf tea, but I’m just not tea-crazed enough to pull out my sleuth hat and investigate. Luckily for us, this chick is.

Recently, I was introduced to Adagio.com, who has a myriad of teas that you can buy in different amounts. In fact, one nice feature about Adagio is sampler tea sizes for $2.00 each, allowing a person to try a few flavors at once. What caught my eye was their starter set right on the front page. For $19 (plus tax and shipping), you can get a tea “pot” of sorts, plus four sampler sized teas of your choice. I was intrigued, so I bought one.

The container is plastic, but is microwavable and dishwasher safe. And it’s pretty nifty. Pour water into the container – if it’s boiling, you can just add your tea leaves. If it’s cold, you can microwave the water to heat it up. When the water is hot enough, add your tea leaves. In case you were worried about how much and how long with your tea, on the outside of each tea cannister is a label that indicates how hot your water should be, how much tea you should add, and how long you should let it seep. When it’s ready, place the container on top of your mug and the water will pour out from the bottom of the tea container into your cup, straining out the tea leaves. Overall it’s a great package, and you can’t beat the price. I bought a second one of these as a gift for my dad on Father’s Day; this is a perfect gift because you get so much for only $19. If you’re looking for something inexpensive to buy someone, this would be a great gift.

If you’re looking for something for a tea snob, their glass minuet is also nice. It’s only $15, but you don’t get the tea with it – if you wanted, you could always buy a couple different samplers to add with it. As I’ve not tried any of their other gadgets, I can’t speak for them, although if you’re interested they have ratings and comments for each of their teaware items.

This was my favorite part: They have a tea of the month club. I’m thinking about joining this for six months to see how it goes. You can pick the kind of tea you want (black, oolong, decaf, etc.) and how long you want to join for. It’s a bit pricey, so if you buy this as a gift for someone, you’d better really love them or you should be rich and $100 is chump change to you (bastard). Depending on which one you join and for how long, the prices are anywhere between $65 – $159.

I still enjoy coffee, and I’m primarily a coffee snob, but now I wouldn’t turn down a good cup of tea. (Again, note the word “good” in that sentence.)

The History
According to Chinese folklore, tea was discovered in 2723 B.C. by Shen Nong, a Chinese Emperor noted as the father of agriculture and the inventor of Chinese herbal medicine. One day, while he and his servants were traveling, stopped to rest. As they servants began to boil the water for drinking, some leaves from a nearby bush fell into the water. Shen Nong noted the change in the water and drank some of the liquid. Because the leaves had fallen from a tea tree, the drink was called tea.

The Chinese have always been thousands of years ahead of the rest of us dumbasses. But I digress.

Here’s a very interesting little blip about tea history.

The Recipe
For today’s recipe, we go to our Grand Poobah of food – seriously, he’s like the Bill Nye of cooking. After all, cooking is just like chemistry, but with food. He says:

4 heaping teaspoons loose tea
4 cups water

Place loose tea leaves into a warmed tea kettle. Pour heated water over loose tea leaves. Let steep. Strain tea and serve.

*Note: For Oolong and Green tea, water should simmer at 200 degrees F. and 180 degrees F.
*For Irish and English tea bring water to a full boil.
*Black tea should soak for 3 to 5 minutes. Oolong tea should soak for 4 to 7 minutes.
*Green Tea should soak for 2 to 3 minutes.