Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tea Snob B-Town

In additional to bike racing, kitties, and movies, my other beloved hobby is drinking tea and a few days ago I just kicked it up a notch.

I've been drinking green tea since early on college when I heard it boosted metabolism. It was tame enough for the first few years as I tried a few different flavors and upgraded from Lipton, to Celestial Seasonings, to Republic of Tea. Then a couple of years ago Adam brought home a used Mighty Leaf tea pouch to show me how cool it was and my loose-leaf obscession began.

For quite some time, Mightly Leaf was my brand of choice. They have really good tea and good variety, but most of their varieties run $7-10 for a 4 oz. bag. The problem is that I want to try a every kind they have and the price makes it a little hard. They have samplers available, but many of the kinds I'm most interested aren't included and may of the kinds I don't like are.

A few months ago, a co-worker gave me a few infusers from Tea Forte, each of which were amazingly good. I ordered a sampler for myself, but with my 4+ cup a day habit I ran through the $24 box way too fast. It's sort of like bottled water; I can stand to pay $1.20 a bottle once in a while when I'm on the road or something, but at normal consumption rate, tap water is all that is practical.

I my other overpriced tea indulgence is going to Soma Coffeehouse for some of their delicious blends. They won't sell the loose leaf tea directly to customers, so I went on an internet search for their supplier. I came up with site for the Montana Tea and Spice Trading. I ordered a pound each of their Mountain Huckleberry and Evening is Missoula, my two favorite herbals.

More importantly, during the search I stumbled upon the holy grail. Tea Source is my new best friend. They have so many varieties and them in 2 oz. portions (about 25 cups) that run about $3-4 each, which makes dabbling a lot easier. I went a little crazy on with my Friday paycheck and ordered two blacks, a puerh, two greens, a white, an herbal, and two one-serving "pucks" for about $35. This should keep me entertained for quite some time. I've kept the packing sheet to make notes about what I do and do not like as I sample each variety, so I can learn what all those grassy/floral/earthy terms in the descriptions really mean. I've tried four of the varieties so far and strangely enough, I like the free sample of Imperial Forest green tea that I wasn't even expecting the best. Go figure.

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