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Aug 16, 2009 10:55 PM

green tea

i had some really good loose leaf green tea at a friends house but when i went to buy it i noticed it was really expensive
what geen tea bags are close to the loose leaf varity

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  1. None really.

    If you've been exposed to loose leaf teas, you'll never go back to bags again. No matter the price differential.

    Sort of quaffing a first growth and chugging wine out of a box.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Check it out, you may have a tea shop close by. You can make a cup of tea using only 2 grams of leaves, so the price is really not as much as it seems... Most of the time, a decent tea should only cost a few bucks per 100grams: which equals 50 cups.

      1. re: Jemon

        Not to mention that if it's whole-leaf green tea, you can steep the leaves several times and get good tea each time; I've done it as much as 5 times. Some people say the second or third steep is the best.

    2. fabian3dg -- Was the loose leaf green tea that you had at your friend's house Japanese green tea or Chinese green tea?
      If you are searching to "duplicate" it, you will want to know this first.

      7 Replies
        1. re: fabian3dg

          Do you have access to any Japanese markets? If so, my first suggestion would be to check the tea aisles in one or several Japanese markets. Usually, you will find both loose leaf and bagged Japanese green teas. Perhaps you can ask the manager to guide you in selecting a good quality bagged tea.

          I completely agree with what other posters have said: the loose leaf tea will, in general, be of better quality than the bags, and you will pay for quality.

          Be aware that unless the market is a very busy place, the tea on the shelves can be quite stale or flat. Perhaps you will want to consider ordering Japanese green tea online?

          1. re: liu

            how long will he tea leaves last if i order them online
            im new to the tea world

            1. re: fabian3dg

              fabian3dg --
              It is my experience that the green tea that you order online -- if from a good purveyor -- will last longer than those on the market shelves. It is not so much that they "go baaad;" they just go flat over time. The good purveyors will advise you of the harvest dates.

              I suggest you check out Hibiki-an in Japan for some very fresh teas:

              My amazingly knowledgeable tea friend in New York, Karen, just directed me to Zencha, also in Japan:
              Zencha carries Fuji the Ultimate Fukamushi which I just ordered. It is one of the best green teas I have enjoyed recently.

              Be sure to brew your green tea at a low temperature (maybe 140F for some very good tea). Also, use a good, fine-mesh screen to filter out the tiny leaves. You will find lots of information on the Japanese tea sites.

              Please note that all of my recommendations are for pure green teas with no flavors attached. If your preference is for flavored green teas, such as peach green tea or lychee green tea, then you will want to check out other options.

              fabian3dg, if you still prefer to shop your market shelves first, I have found Maeda-en to be a decent label of Japanese green teas. Also, Rishi teas can be found at Whole Foods; while many of the Rishi teas are flavored, you might find some plain Japanese green tea.

              1. re: liu

                Aww...thanks for the plug, Liu! :)
                And don't forget Chinese, vs. Japanese vs. Korean vs. Vietnamese...
                Liu can tell you that one of our favorite vendors for Chinese tea, including green (a very different animal than Japanese) is Seven Cups in Tucson. Make sure you join their free tea club online for discounts and transferable cash-back coupons.
                If you want to explore Vietnamese greens, including those scented with jasmine or lotus (interesting stuff!), your best source is probably The Tao of Tea.
                Liu and I met on Chowhound last year and have been tea-ing online ever since, including scheduling virtual tea tastings of things we both bought. Tea is wonderful!
                I'd also second Liu's suggestion for a particular screen mesh for Japanese greens, especially fukamushi. Japanese green tea leaves, unlike quality tea from other regions, has a tendency to pack like wet cement. In order for it to decant properly, you need a brewing vessel fitted with a proper screen. I think Hibiki-an has some fairly inexpensive options and their tea ware ships free.

                1. re: MacGuffin

                  MacGuffin -- You have offered some really good information here!

                  Remember, MacGuffin, YOU taught me everything I know about tea!
                  Your recommendations about vendors, your advice about tea wares and your expertise on brewing technique have always been brilliant. Everything you just mentioned in your above post is great instruction for anyone wishing to get further into tea.

                  The world of green teas is extensive beyond Japan; it is great fun to explore the greens from other countries. MacGuffin, you have an extraordinary ability to find the good vendors, and I completely concur with your recommendation of some very good purveyors of various green teas. You continue to lead me to deliciousness that I would not have found on my own.

                  Your visual of the tiny tea leaves "packing like wet cement" is terrific! They do!!! Those kyusu pots with the fine mesh screens are not just another pretty face...they are very functional. I resisted owning one for a long time until MacGuffin convinced me of its utility. I now encourage anyone sipping Japanese green tea to brew it "properly" in a kyusu vessel. Again, with MacGuffin's guidance, I purchased my kyusu from Hibiki-an and it was very reasonable. Incidentally, they are the only source I know of that offers a left-handed kyusu!

                  Finally, MacGuffin is an expert in brewing technique. It was she who taught me to steep the tender Japanese green tea leaves at a much lower temperature than I had been doing. 140F is good for many, and at this low brewing temperature, I am able to taste features in these teas that I had never tasted before. Also, a low brewing temperature produces a sweeter cup without the bitterness that we sometimes detect in these Japanese greens when brewed too hot.

                  Again, MacGuffin, your input is a real asset to this post.

                  1. re: liu

                    Aw, geez. I just follow the vendor's suggestions and use some common sense when I venture a bit farther afield. I've been lucky--I found stellar vendors. :)
                    And let's not forget who led whom into the dan congs...

      1. Good tea is expensive. That is it.

        I try to finish green tea within a year of harvest. It will be noticeably deteriorated in two years.

        1. Try the chinese tea Lung Ching (Longjing, Dragon Well) if you find the one that is not too expensive.

          1. Good tea _is_ very often expensive. But it doesn't have to be. Fortunately in my area there are a number of large Asian markets and all of them have good selections of tea (green and otherwise) that are very well priced and of very good quality.

            I've been a green tea drinker for close to 40 years and still love the stuff. Just remember when brewing green tea NOT to use boiling water (it should be _almost_ boiling) and not to steep your tea for more than 3 or 4 minutes to avoid the tannic sort of flavors that a long steep produces.

            3 Replies
            1. re: The Professor

              The temperature and duration will depend on the type of green tea; dragonwell might be in the range of 80°C-ish, while gyokuro needs ~50°C, sometimes lower. For gyokuro, some may steep at the lower temperatures for long times (~5mins) to get it characteristic intensity.

              1. re: limster

                There's a very easy way to handle achieve this (it's on the Hibiki-an site, I think). For most Chinese greens, and Japanese greens that you'd like to brew at a somewhat higher temperature (80º-ish C), bring your water to a boil, then pour it (from a height--helps to oxygenate the water) into another vessel such as a large-ish Pyrex cup, then onto your tea. For even lower temperatures, i.e. the 40º - 60º C range, such as those you'd use for gyokuro (or very fine senchas, at least to my taste), pour the water into one more vessel prior to pouring it on the leaves. This method has always worked fantastically well for me as long as the intermediate vessels are cool. I also preheat the pot (or whatever I'm using to brew) with boiling water, empty, add the dry leaves, cover, shake gently, and let warm for a minute or so, but only for Chinese greens, not Japanese. The brewing water shocks the leaves less and the aroma prior to its being added is heavenly. :)
                A glass candy thermometer with metric and avoirdupois readings is a good, cheap tool while you're learning. Just make sure you calibrate it with boiling water to get an idea of its accuracy. Mine is made by Springfield--very accurate within a degree or two; I still have the first one I bought a good 30 years ago.

                1. re: MacGuffin

                  Here's another discussion about getting the right water temperatures:
                  -- notable is the post about looking at bubble size. I've seen posts from people who feel that one shouldn't used water that has boiled because there's less oxygen; this approach should work for those who fall into that school of thought.

                  I usually estimate temperatures ~50°C simply by my ability to hold on to he container of water without discomfort.

                  For preheating the pot or bowl, I usually use the water of the same temperature for brewing, but it's more out of convenience.