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Blog Carnival No. 6: Uncomfortable tea brewing scenarios

February 01, 2011

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The question posed for this month’s Blog Carnival, sponsored by the Association of Tea Bloggers was: “What is the most uncomfortable place where you prepared tea (work, traveling, in a place without suitable equipment, etc.) and how were you able to overcome the difficulty?”

I have had an array of tea-related experiences ranging from exquisite to unremarkable, in many different locations and situations, but I found it pretty easy to call to mind what was probably the worst tea making experience I’ve had so far. Ironically, it was during World Tea East in Boston, 2009.

Wanting to keep my traveling stuff as simple as possible, I did not seriously consider packing an electric kettle or any tea ware for use during the few days on the other side of the country, but I did toss some good tea into my luggage. I’m fairly certain that the tea I brought was Competition Grade Tie Guanyin. Obviously it’s a green oolong, but I must admit that the package looks entirely unfamiliar to me now.

As expected, I tasted some wonderful teas on the exhibition floor, but back in my hotel room my options were pretty dismal. As we all know, aside from decent tea leaves, the absolute minimum of elements one needs to produce a decent cup of tea are: good quality water and a clean vessel that heats water to the right temperature. I had neither of these in my hotel room. Naturally, I needed to prove that making tea under these circumstances would be as bad as I anticipated, so after returning from a day of Tea Expo experiences I put some tap water into the hotel-furnished mini coffee maker (without a filter or filter basket), positioned a styrofoam cup below where the hot water would spit out, and flipped the brew switch. After the infernal machine sputtered the last of its hot water into the cup, I tossed about a teaspoon of leaves in and waited about five minutes.

With high grade lightly-oxidized oolongs like the Tie Guanyin I had with me it’s pretty hard to oversteep the leaves into something that will be unpleasant to drink. However, bad water heated and passed through years worth of stale coffee film and lime deposits can ruin anything. And this marvelous tea did indeed taste pretty awful.

Unfortunately, in this case there was really no remedy at hand. I drank the tea anyway so I’d be able to describe how awful it was…in the interest of science, of course. I had to console myself with promises of better cups of tea in the near future, after I returned home after absorbing a goodly amount of excellent tea information and meeting some wonderful tea people.

Here are links to all of the other contributor’s posts for the Blog Carnival.

Black Dragon Tea Bar: J-Mo’s Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Cha-Cha-Cha Adventures with Tea: Most Difficult Tea-Making

Tea Pages: Tea Troubles

Tea Snobbery: Tea and learning to Always Get My Tea

That Pour Girl: Tea Blog Carnival No. 6

The Sip Tip, February ATB Blog Carnival

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