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May 17, 2007 05:24 PM

Debate: tea at your workstation?

Here at CHOW some drink tea at our desks (replete with an assortment of loose leaf teas and infusers)-but others are skeptical about whether this is a common practice. Please weigh in. Do others drink tea at work, and have tea gear sprawling over expense reports and notepads? or if they drink tea is it just with the break room tea bags?

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  1. I have a tin of some loose tea at my desk but it's not open. I got it from a trip in London a few weeks ago. I've been meaning to use those nifty easy paper tea bags that are for infusing. Haven't gotten around to it yet. My colleague has some too - we've drunk some by just pouring a teaspoon into a cup of hot water hoping they would sink (it didn't), but it gets messy. Generally will bring some good teabags from home - Choice or Yogi teas generally.

    8 Replies
    1. re: kayonyc

      If you stir the tea into the water and then cover your tea with a plate or lid (asian stores sell mugs with lids), the tea leaves will sink to the bottom.

      1. re: Torina

        Torina -- "...and then cover your tea with a plate or lid...the tea leaves will sink to the bottom."
        This is amazing, and it works!
        Can someone explain why?
        I like drinking tea with the leaves left in, and this is really good to know...but I want to know why this happens...????

        1. re: liu

          You're so right liu, this is a great tip! Perhaps we'll investigate and do a little video about it on seems like something a lot of people would want to know.

          -Meredith of CHOW

          1. re: mudaba

            Yes, mudaba! This is definitely one of those tips that makes our Chowing life much more pleasurable! I would love to see your video.

            1. re: mudaba

              By putting a lid on, it steams the tea leaves.. which quickens its pace of getting hydrated and infuses the tea flavour into the water faster. Tea leaves sink to the bottom when its thoroughly soaked ('coz it gets heavier)... so by putting a lid on, it just quickens the pace of that procedure! :) You'll also notice that tea leaves dont sink if the water is not boiled.. heat makes the leaves soak up faster, so would make it sink faster. Always make tea with boiling hot water!

              And yes, I drink tea all the time at my workstation!

              1. re: jennjen18

                Thanks, jennjen18!
                This all makes sense...except I do not like to brew high quality green tea and oolong tea leaves with boiling water. I have steeped them at various temps, and some of the subtleties of flavor are lost when zapped with boiling water; I also detect a bitterness if these leaves are brewed too hot. I prefer a lower temp for both good green and oolong tea. Perhaps there are others that also benefit from a lower temp, but these are the two categories that I mostly drink.

            2. re: liu

              It's interesting how something I've always taken for granted is a novel idea for others. In fact, on days where there's no time for the whole kung fu tea process, or when all you have is a cup and hot water, the way to go would be to use less leaves, rinse leave, pour water, cover with lid or plate, and walk away. When there is time to drink the tea, you'll come back to find the leaves all sunken to the bottom and the flavor have come out fully. Any explanation other than that the leaves have gained weight from soaking up the water I don't know.

              One thing about making tea this way is that you probably can't make a decent 2nd cup from the same leaves. Unless you can leave it for an even longer time. Yet, when I have to devote big chunks of time to a project, I will make my tea this way...let it sit and be my reayd reward when I take a break.

              1. re: HLing

                Hello, HLing!
                I am glad to hear you on this, as I know you're equally passionate about tea and all related things.
                I will have to experiment to see if the leaves eventually sink if the cup is not covered; otherwise, perhaps it is the maintenance of a higher temperature for longer to permit them to soak "properly."

        2. I'm known as the "tea lady" at my work. While there's no denying the ease of use of tea-bags, it's still nice to try and make loose-leaf tea at work. I manage this by pre-filling at home with loose tea in pre-packaged tea-bags ment to be filled with loose tea. (got them from Chado tea, in Pasadena..I know Teavana also stocks them) A few of my co-workers think i'm crazy for going this far, but guess who's allways asking for some of my tea??

          I do enjoy many of the Republic of Tea's products, and find they keep well in my desk. My work also has a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the mall, and their product is good, as well. (I personally love the nylon mesh pyramid bags!)

          I think if I brought in all my tea equippage, they'd have me sent to human resources!! *LOL*

          5 Replies
          1. re: Honeychan

            Sounds like y'all need a bombilla straw. It's a little metal straw that has a filter. Traditionally used for yerba mate type drinks. You can grab one at any health food store/coop, probably even Whole Foods.

            1. re: geg5150

              geg5150: Oh, I have a bombilla- I just don't use it for standard tea. Yerba Mate is different to me, and the straw works great for it, but I just haven't brought myself to use it with my "real" tea. Yes, yes..I know it would work just as well..I guess I'm just a tea-snob! /tougune-in-cheek

              1. re: geg5150

                As a young spank out of college working at a commodities trading company... I used to keep a big freezer zip lock bag full of loose Mate (which always got funny looks from coworkers.... who initially thought it was something else).

                Now I work out of my home... so yes I have tea at my desk. However, I work for an Indian owned IT Consulting firm... and whenever I am down at Corporate HQ in L.A..... I raid the owners tea cabinet which is packed with very fine loose teams from Darjeeling. Given that the majority of the employees are Indian.... tea infusers sitting at cubicles is a common sight.

              2. re: Honeychan

                i'm also known as the 'tea lady' around my office. everyone comes over to my office when they need some tea! we have lipton bags in the lunchroom, but I just can't get myself to use them. I'll use an english breakfast one when i'm desperate, but not usually. I have a few different types of loose tea, including jasmine, darjeeling, and a breakfast blend from upton tea. i keep them in metal containers on my desk. I use a porcelain mug that i picked up in chinatown that has a matching infuser that goes inside, along with a lid that you can rest the infuser on after you use it. i also have one of those tea ball things, but i don't like using since it restricts the tea a little too much.

                1. re: twiggles

                  Hah! Yeah, I got labeled the "tea wench" in my office by my boss' sons (who're friends of mine as well) not because I hoard it all in my desk, but rather because we drink so much of it and it's always me making it.

                  We usually do equal parts english breakfast and earl grey w/ milk, but there is also a bag of lapsang souchong stinking up one of my drawers. In the breakroom, we've got the Bigelow combo-pack from Costco and various green teas. I go through the cabinets periodically and throw out stuff to make room for the new.

              3. yup. tea at work is a necessity. it is not on the desk, it's on a dry-goods shelving unit, next to the cereal.

                1 Reply
                1. re: soupkitten

                  definately, tea at work(at the desk) is a necessity.

                2. Yes, there's tea supplied in the common area at my work but it's not the greatest quality (it's better than the free coffee, mind you). I bring my own bags if I'm drinking tea. I can't be bothered with loose leaf at work; a decent quality bag (typhoo or the like) is fine and easy to manage.

                  1. When I lived in the west, I did mostly bags, and some loose, but never brought my best teas to work - my thoughts were that the ceremony of a really excellent and carefully brewed tea did not deserve the distraction of work. Now living in Chengdu china - like many, I carry a container that looks ike a small clear thermos with loose tea leaves inside. There is a screen on top you lift out, and hot water is addeded throughout the day. The city is known for tea culture, so even among taxi and bus drivers there is a high level of knowlegde and appreciation for the different types/grades of tea that are available.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: pepper_mil

                      pepper_mill: Oh, how I envy you! I've been lucky enough to go to Japan (but wasen't able to make any tea ceremony...It's a definate for my next trip there, tho!) and loved how tea is drunk for every meal, and then some. I have a few good import shops I do get my tea from, care to reccommend any Chinese tea?

                      As far as work goes, i'm fortunate as well to work in a major Las Vegas Strip resort, and the main lunchroom stocks Harney and Sons teabags! When my personal stock I bring in gets low, it's an easy walk to procure some pretty good tea, with no effort.

                      As much as I love coffee, tea really is #1 in my heart. So many different types, flavors..It would take a lifetime just to drink them all!

                      1. re: Honeychan

                        Hah, once I figure out a reliable way of recommending them I will...there are so many varieties and grades, plus tea packages here have freshness dates on them, which I don't remember seeing back home.

                        What I have learned so far: I love tie guan yin (the iron goddess of mercy) but the package I bought for not much money didn't impress me...neither did the very high end stuff. The medium high grade was my favourite. So far, every mao feng I've tried has been very vegetal, with a bitter note. Many love Lung Jing here, but I don't get why yet - maybe I haven't tried the proper grade. Learning about tea is just as complex (and fun) as learning about wine, I've found.

                        And I've drunk a really beautiful rose tea, made from milk with dried rosebuds floating in it....

                      2. re: pepper_mil

                        pepper mil, when my wife and I visited China in 2001 we noticed lots of people drinking tea from the containers you describe. The tea inside was almost always very pale in color, like a white tea, but it may have just been very diluted green tea. We speculated on how you could leave tea steeping throughout the day without it becoming bitter. Is it because you go through infusions quickly? Is it because the quality of tea is high and therefore less prone to oversteeping (white teas would also help with this)? Frankly, based on the tea we were served throughout most of China, we weren't convinced that the average Chinese person had any more appreciation for fine tea than the average British person despite how much tea is consumed in both countries. It sounds like, at least in the area where you live, that may not be the case, however.

                        1. re: Low Country Jon

                          Hi LCJ, the teas that people carry do get pretty dark here. As for the taste, some are more prone to bitterness than others and I don't have a good reason why - jasmines do tend to get bitter. We use a slightly lower temp of water for steeping, I think. Will report back if I learn more.