honu

Tea awareness in Thailand

71 posts in this topic

About Tea Village, you might want to try one of my two favorite types, dahongpao (darker Chinese oolong), and longjing / dragonwell (green tea).

Of course in Thailand they mostly produce more lightly oxidized oolong, a different type altogether, and although they have good prices for the first two kinds in Tea Village Thai teas are really inexpensive most places, including there. They also have herb teas there and blends but I'm not so into those.

The advantage of a shop over buying online is that you can usually taste the teas before you buy them, so there is essentially no risk of opening a bag of tea that you don't want to drink (which does happen). In some stores people can seem a bit distant, like you're putting them out making them make tea, or maybe it relates to that tea costing them money, but in that shop they'll just sit and drink it with you, and talk about tea, as it should be.

The advantages of buying tea online are that they are usually cheaper (but not always, and since grade is part of tea price you can't judge value from a vendor description), and essentially every tea made is available somewhere online, so no matter what you like it's out there. Not all are, but it takes some doing to find the limitations.

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ID: 17   Posted (edited)

PG Tips - can be bought at TOPS but expensive. Normally get friends to bring box loads with them when they come over.

Liptons - shocking if you want an English cup of tea. However, it was originally produced for the English abroad when they wouldn't use the local milk. So it is quite weak thus being ok for a cup of black tea or to make iced tea.

I am always offended when offered Liptons...it is awful awful stuff. Bland and makes you want to cry at the lack of a decent tea!!

Edited by roath

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Tescos has an appaling range of tea. The worst. They generally don't even stock Thai tea brands which I don't really understand. Big C is much better for some reason. Tops/Rimping and the like are much much better, although you still can't get Tetley tea anywhere in Thailand for some reason. For those that don't know, the two main competitors in the UK are Tetleys and PG Tips. Most people would choose one over the other. I choose Tetleys although I have to confess that I have grown rather accustomed to Thai Number 1 Brand Tea - the Gold version is quite decent as a quaffable daily cuppa.

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Tea Village is a delightful shop just to visit, even if you're not buying anything - obviously for the owner it's a labour of love - so tastefully furnished with various objects and knick-knacks that are exquisite. Yes, they'll make a brew - and that's the done-deal for me - keep it personal like that and you have a customer for life. Unlike Honu, I'm not quite such a dedicated tea drinker, but I do like to have a range of brews at home and they have to be special, so this place will open up some new experiences for me.

Cheers,

Wit.

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I'm not a tea drinker out of comfort, but I often drink tea for dietary purpose.

I usually by Japanese green tea from Foodland, which have some good choice, and make 3 liters at the time to drink within the next day.

I usually buy the Japanese green tea Ban Cha from Maritumo at something like 110 baht for 100 gram. They usually have stock less than a month old,.

Sen Cha is higher quality, but also triple the price, and for my purpose I let it seep a little longer and probably have the same effect.

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The last post raises an interesting aspect of tea drinking, health concerns. There are a lot of positive health claims related to drinking tea but then also related to any number of other products, so I'd think it would be hard to choose who to believe.

You even see different lists of benefits depending on who writes them, and different "evidence," some of which looks like objective medical studies, but if they're funded by tea interest groups then they could easily be set up just to find those positive results. They could keep varying what is tested and how until they get them, and then the sorted study results would look great but what it means could be limited.

I don't worry a lot about it but there are potential health risks to drinking tea or consuming a lot of any given product too. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are definitely used in making most teas, and you wouldn't know for sure one certified as organic would really be any different.

My guess is that tea is probably good for you, and that consumed in any moderation tea is probably very good for you (for how much tea I drink hard to know). But of course that's just a guess.

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The main issue I wanted to discuss is tea awareness, to see what interest people had in tea, but I could add a bit on tea basics here. Of course I write a blog for that kind of thing, but for someone just reading through here they might not really know what loose tea is even all about.

Tea enthusiasts tend to discredit tea bags because the lowest grades of tea end up in them, and tea sold as tea dust (what's in the bags, in part) doesn't make the best final beverage, even if it somehow started as good tea. But tea processing is done in a range of ways, so that tea didn't start as good tea, in general, both because lower grades of initial farmed product are used and because the processing is different, similar steps but done by industrial machines instead in a less careful way. So loose tea is the same thing, just generally a lot better. It doesn't need to be, of course; one could find awful loose tea as well.

It's actually not that complicated to brew loose tea. There are two main ways to do so, based on using different equipment and different proportions of tea leaves to water. Traditional Western brewing had been cited as using one teaspoon per cup of hot water combined in a pot (roughly--actual quantity of tea and water could vary a little), and one convention mentioned adding one extra teaspoon "for the pot." The other main way is referred to as gongfu cha, Chinese for tea technique, using a lot more tea with very little water brewed in a small pot or gaiwan (like a bowl with a lid, I guess), brewing small amounts many times. That is a bit trickier.

Really any way of mixing the leaves and hot water would work. It's just that small variations in the process can lead to small variations in the final tea, and people into tea are touchy about them all being positive inputs. At a minimum someone could put a teaspoon or two of leaves in a coffee mug of hot water, let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes, and then strain it and drink tea. They would probably naturally keep adjusting that process to improve the tea, based on their preference and factors that would tend to work for everyone. The main extra dimension is to use slightly cooler water for green tea to limit that bitterness / astringency.

In general the tea can be used a second or third time to make another infusion, for some tea types several more. It gets trickier defining how to best go about that, along with pinning down other inputs, best water temperature, changes to infusion time, better tea-ware to use, etc. The tea really should be enclosed--where a pot comes in--because aromatic essential oils are part of tea, and those can evaporate off, and from there more minor changes relate to lots of things. A french press also works, or whatever else, a pint beer glass with a saucer on it wouldn't be functionally so different.

Sound like a lot of messing around? In a sense it is, in a sense not so hard. To me it's crazy for someone to drink tea from tea bags or powdered tea instead given how it's not so hard, but really up to them. Tea is very inexpensive too, even for good tea (relatively), so the trade-off is to put some time and effort in (and not much time once you push through a little learning curve), to get a better, healthier, cheaper beverage.

The real trick is that grocery store tea is almost universally not very good, which is hard for me to figure out. I guess it's about supply and demand. Awareness isn't there to push for better tea to sit on the shelves, which needn't cost any more than what might turn up, but then I guess that leads back to supply chain complications, people at different levels of production, packaging, and distribution making money from products.

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Well although I am not tea connoisseur as many who have posted seem to be I do enjoy drinking tea and of late have taken to making my own cold tea to be consumed over ice.. Having spent considerable amount of time in the southern US as a young man I drank a large amount of homemade sweet tea which is served cold over ice.. Almost every good decent Southerner will have a gallon of cold sweet tea in their refrigerator.. Sweet because of the large amount of added sugar... I use considerable less when preparing mine... In any case does the OP have an opinion on cold tea? Is a certain type of tea better then another when served cold or would a tea connoisseur even consider consuming cold tea? smile.png

Btw, I use the Thai brand oblong loose leaf tea already referred to in earlier posts..

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I do a bit of cold brewing - it's a thirst quencher rather than a drink to sit down with and contemplate life and everything. For those interested - general loose leaf tea - have not settled on any particular kind (experiment with your own brews). For 1 and a half litres I use about half a cup of tightly packed leaf (you can put it in muslin and secure it with string or rubber band. I like to mess around with dried fruits to add flavour - a large piece of dried pineapple, say, that is beaten a little. All this is put in the 1 and a half litre jug topped with filtered water and left overnight. Next morning, put in fridge to chill. Remove leaf and fruit when you feel like it. This process, by the way, means a less harsh taste of tanin than with hot brews.

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talking of tea and biscuits, why are the biscuits so dam small.big packaging, open it up and a few tiny biscuits inside, just havent found a decent uk size biscuit yet, well i have but i aint paying £1-50 for them lol !!

I found recently, in Tesco Udon Thani, very large packets of custard creams and bourbon biscuits, very good price as well. If unable to make it in to town, I bake my own shortbread.

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PG Tips - can be bought at TOPS but expensive. Normally get friends to bring box loads with them when they come over.

Liptons - shocking if you want an English cup of tea. However, it was originally produced for the English abroad when they wouldn't use the local milk. So it is quite weak thus being ok for a cup of black tea or to make iced tea.

I am always offended when offered Liptons...it is awful awful stuff. Bland and makes you want to cry at the lack of a decent tea!!

What is your view on Dilmah and Heladiv product, both items are disappearing from availability where I live?

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Great that people are into tea and discussing it this much.

About cold tea (iced tea), it isn't favored much in tea enthusiast circles, but that shouldn't mean too much to anyone else. This article I recently read said cold tea isn't healthy because it stops the body from cooling itself otherwise, turns off heat responses, but I'd take that with a grain of salt too. People seem to get away with that everywhere that's hot. Some claim room temperature water is better for you than cold water, so there could be something to it, but seems not dangerous.

I wrote a little about using lightly oxidized oolongs to make iced tea in my last post, which I've been making for my wife and her mother. Black tea is more common of course, and different teas would work. Darjeeling works well, although I've not tried it many times, since I just drink teas hot. I'll cite a post and excerpt following about a recipe I found for cold-brewing Darjeeling, which I've not used.

You can brew any tea hot and then chill it to make iced tea, and with some sugar added only the most bitter / astringent teas would still not work well due to that bitterness, and for the most part adjusting brewing and using better tea would offset that. There is really no need to limit iced tea to only black tea, and even with black tea there are different types someone could mix if they wanted to go the next step towards experimenting.

Commercial black teas aren't necessarily bad (the Thai tea I posted a picture of, or teas from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), or Assam) but a lot of people would prefer other tea types if they got around to trying them. I mean teas like lightly or more oxidized oolongs, decent green teas, Darjeeling, etc.

Pu'er is sort of a different thing, compressed Chinese tea, it takes some work to sort out what types are and the costs are typically higher for even average grade types. It's not common for tea enthusiasts to advocate drinking teas with milk and sugar but if taken that way it doesn't matter so much about bitterness or even quality of the tea; those things mask a lot of the flavor aspects.

Someone might read all this and think I'm only saying people should buy expensive tea, and I'm really saying the opposite, that there are lots of choices that could be a gateway to experimenting with lots of teas that aren't expensive. $5 for 50 grams of tea gives a pretty broad range of options (150 baht for about 25 good sized cups of tea), 1/20th the cost of Starbucks, but of course you have to make it. Dilmah teas (someone mentioned) are really cheap, less than that, and not bad, but you can probably find slightly better looking around. It's still definitely the next level up from tea bags at about the same price, just much better if you buy their loose tea than their tea bags (the manufacturers almost always use low-grade tea dust in the tea bags, with a few exceptions).

That link about a Darjeeling review follows (my own blog post), along with a cold brew recipe copied here. Again I've not tried; it I'd just brew it hot, put it in something, and put it in the refrigerator, although I'd typically brew three different infusions and combine them, so not quite so simple:

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/2015/03/gopaldhara-gold-darjeeling-autumn.html

I have been cold brewing Darjeeling black, oolongs and green teas separately since the last 12 years [original author statement, not mine, with attribution in the post]. Formula:

1. Take 60 grams of good Darjeeling tea
2. Add 300 grams of ice to the tea
3. Add 300 grams of water to the above
4. Keep the utensil in a cool place
5. Strain the mixture after 6-8 hours of brewing, and if all the ice has melted, you will get 500 ml of tea concentrate.
6. Use 10-12 ml of this for a 200 ml hot tea drink but do not put the concentrate over a flame
7. Use 12-15 ml for an iced tea.
ENJOY

The picture here is of a shop in Paradise Park mall, but I'll write another post sometime about different places to get tea. The most obvious: Chinatown, but you have to be careful about buying a tea that's been sitting out in a relatively open jar for a few years.

post-94228-0-90723900-1434776825_thumb.j

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There was an story on SKY news today,that tea consumption is down in the UK,

because workers don't have time to stop for a cuppa, while in the past workers

stopped at least 3 times a day for a cup of tea and a biscuit,times change and

not always for he better.me I use Yorkshire tea bags,the worst tea in the world

has to be Liptons yellow label,you could leave the bag in the cup for days and

you still would not get a decent cup of tea,

regards worgeordie

Well done, I agree about the local Liptons, I used 2 bags to make a brew but it still wasn't a good one!

Then a friend took a trip out here and I got him to bring the Tetley round bags.

And more recently I brought some Yorkshire Tea back with me.

Now the rains have appeared I am back having an afternoon cuppa and biscuits!

You cannot beat a nice fresh box from home, but did you notice they still go stale in the heat?

What i do is seal them in a bag or jar, and keep ALL of them in the 'fridge.

The ones that have been left in the heat are too late to save, they are dead already....

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Valid tea storage input; tea needs to be well sealed, and even "baggies" allow for air exchange, and heat isn't good for storage, unless a tea type is good for aging, as with pu'er or even oolongs.



But we're back to tea bags, kind of a depressing topic for tea enthusiasts, like someone who loves coffee brewed from ground coffee beans talking about the merits of instant coffee. Blending different black teas together to make a more balanced flavor profile is a real thing, but the tea in tea bags, especially the kind you could find in a grocery store, is almost universally bad tea. Freshness is part of that, and so is original product grade, and also the issue of being ground to a dust (not the way to prepare dry tea for optimum brewing).



I mentioned talking about sourcing more, so how would one get around this in Thailand, or even Bangkok, for example, to find good black tea here? Not an easy task. It's sad to say but ordering it online might not be a bad way to go. I bought a decent standard black tea in a Bangkok shop in Silom relatively recently, so if someone loved English Breakfast tea they'd love this:



http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/2015/06/keemun-from-peony-tea-shop-in-silom.html




But I kind of don't love the style. It's good, but not my favorite flavor profile in black tea. I liked this tea black much better from Vietnam:



http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/2015/03/amazing-teas-from-vietnam-oolong-and.html




But that's back to mail order, even if it's not expensive tea and that's not so far to ship. I've had ok black tea from Thailand but that example from what they sell in Tops is only drinkable with milk and sugar, so I wouldn't count it. It's fine to make a masala chai, maybe better than Tetley or PG Tips, but I really wouldn't know. Thailand produces oolong, almost always prepared as lightly oxidized oolong, just not always; it is what it is.



To me tea awareness isn't really about trying to find a better version of what is in a tea bag though. For some people that would be their preference after a lot of exposure to different teas, but to a lot of others they'd like something else entirely. The trick is how to get there. Even if you walk into an ideal shop, where people are friendly and open to brewing up free samples of everything they have, they're still going to ask you what you like. If you've never had a decent green tea (or black tea), or don't know what different oolongs are, or white tea, never mind pu'er, how could you really answer that. This is what's stopping tea awareness from really going anywhere, I think. If anyone has thoughts on how to jump that gap I'd love to hear them.



My story, the short version: I visited Laos and bought coffee at a farm, and fresh tea they grew there. My wife kept buying me Japanese green tea after because she thought it was good for my health. On a trip to China the company we visited put on a tea ceremony, and I waited in a tea shop while others shopped in a market, and between those two inputs I was kind of hooked.




Longjing, also called Dragonwell, pan-fried Chinese green tea:



post-94228-0-13257300-1435035287_thumb.j



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Let me start off with a declaration: I am not an expert, or any sort of gourmand with respect to tea, but I do know what I like and can appreciate the difference between what I think is nice and what I think is "pretty normal".

Lipton yellow has been lambasted here.....I suspect it's in the brewing and/or the water. I don't think it's a great tea, but when made properly, it can be quite pleasant. It's what I have here as it's the only tea I can find aside from expensive Twinings and various green teas.

Personally, I never let the water boil rapidly. Just coming to the boil, with smaller bubbles than a rapid boil, but bigger than the tiny bubbles of a simmer.

And never let the water boil for long...as soon as it reaches that pre-rolling boil, turn it off/take it off the heat.

Since I am stuck with Lipton, I do the best I can......using the above heated water, straight onto the teabag in the cup. DO NOT AGITATE. Don't jiggle the bag....just let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes, then gently remove the bag.

Doing it that way results in a nice cuppa.

Having said that, my preference (as far as supermarket teas goes) is Dilmah Orange Pekoe, loose leaf. Wish I could get it here.

Green tea...Longjin is nice and full, but not bitter. Gunpowder. tea is ok too.

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BANGKOK 29 June 2017 14:29
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