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Tea leaves

I like the green tea they serve at Rendezvous in Del Mar and Emerald. I have had the jasmine and oolong flavors. Any idea where I can get loose tea teaves that are similiar or better? I don't like tea bags that much.

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  1. Infusions of Tea might be a good place to start looking

    15 Replies
    1. re: shouzen

      second Infusions - they've custom ordered teas for me in the past

      1. re: ipsit

        Thanks for the tip! Looks like a great place and it's close to where I live. :-)

        1. re: ipsit

          3rd Iinfusions of Tea. They really know their tea well, particularly if you catch one of the owners Emilie or Ron, and their store staff is generally very knowledgeable as well.

          I'm not familiar with what they serve at Rendezvous but if you really like Oolongs, and for me I'm absolutely nuts for it, particularly the nearly green Oolongs, you must try Infusions of Tea's Tien Guan Yin. I've tried many a Tien Guan Yin and theirs is nearly the best. (The only one that may have topped it was an Oolong I once got from my sister when she returned from her travels in China...)

          1. re: cgfan

            Sounds great! Do you have any recommendations on kettles or tea pots? I'm just starting out on home brewing.

            1. re: surfer1966

              Well the very first choice you'd have to make is to decide whether you want to do a Gung Fu approach (very small cups/servings, multiple serial infusions, up to 8-10 for a really fine tea; each infusion having a different characteristic) vs. the more often seen brewing with larger quantities of water and much few resteeps.

              To do Gung Fu to a certain extent takes specialized teaware, and there are some logistics to be figured out as there is a lot of water being used at the point of service. (Normally a tea boat or tray is used to drain off the water.) However, and I"m sure Gung Fu purists will balk at this, there are some really interesting modern brewers coming in from China (and variants also being used for drip coffee such as in "The Clever Coffee Brewer") which makes Gung Fu brewing much easier.

              (There's plenty of videos up on YouTube, at least enough to give you a quick introduction as to what it involves.)

              Regardless of the style of brewing you wish to pursue, in either case temperature control is important. I personally use a Japanese electric (always on) kettle that can be programmed to various pre-set temperatures. There are several out there that do this. That would be a good start.

              If you want to explore further the Gung Fu approach, there's a small tea shop in Ocean Beach called The Whole Leaf that sort of concentrates on it, though I'm sure much better operations can be found in Orange County and certainly in L.A. They have quirky store hours, and sometimes are just open by appointment.

              In South Park there is Halcyon Tea, a large (in selection) tea store focused on having a wide variety of traditional teas. They probably have the most diverse selection in town for traditonal (Asian) teas. They may be a resource for not so much Gung Fu equipment but more so on just advice and further resources.

              1. re: cgfan

                To start out I am leaning towards a bunch of water with few re-steeps. Normally a single pot at the local Chinese restaurants is enough tea for me and my kid. Would
                this 1 2/3 quart Cuisinart be suitable?
                It had pretty good reviews and has various temp settings for different teas.

                1. re: surfer1966

                  I think this is more the type of water heater that cgfan is describing.


                  Zojirushi is a good brand and you can find them in Asian groceries like Ranch 99. For a family of four we have a four liter version that works out well. You can set them at a specific temperature for tea but also use them to boil for other uses. Very handy.

                  Ranch 99 is also a good source for all sorts of teas, loose leaf in particular. Can't personally vouch for the quality since we get our tea directly from my wife's family who have an oolong tea farm in Taiwan. But a good place to see a great variety of tea.

                  In terms of a tea pot, you can start with a simple glass or ceramic pot with a built-in screen that will filter the leaves as you pour. It would be interesting to start with a clear glass pot as you can observe how the tea is changing through multiple steeps. It's also interesting to taste the tea as it goes through multiple steeps. Chinese tradition says that the third steep is the best but it's really a matter of taste. I suspect that this is how tea is made at most Chinese restaurants and is an easier way to get started. My wife's family is in the tea business and drink most of their daily tea this way. Kung Fu tea could be interesting to learn (I've observed it many times but haven't learned myself) but it seems to be reserved for occasions when you're making tea for a larger group of people, given the work involved, and is also ceremonial in nature. Good luck and enjoy making and drinking tea!

                  1. re: steveprez

                    Nice family perk! I might make tea for 4 but mostly 1 or 2. Is this 3 liter one suitable?

                    I'm a condo dweller so I don't have much room in the kitchen and try to avoid buying big kitchen appliances.

                    Thanks for the Ranch 99 tip. I go there every week but never checked out their tea making stuff.

                    Any tips on how much tea to put in the infuser per quart of water?

                    1. re: surfer1966

                      That's the model I have - works like a charm.

                      1. re: surfer1966

                        I'm sure it's just fine. It depends on how frequently you'll use it. The smaller the volume, the more frequently you'll need to refill it. We use it for tea, coffee (with a Melita one cup filter holder), my wife drinks her water warm, instant noodles for the kids, etc. so the large size helps. Keep in mind that it's best to use distilled water or the minerals will coat it with a chalky substance. I suspect distilled water also makes better tea.

                        In terms of the amount of tea to use, I would start with the recommendation on the package and adjust to your taste. The problem is that the bulk density of the tea will depend on how it's processed and thus a "one size fits all" recommendation is difficult. Good luck!

                        1. re: steveprez

                          Thanks for all the brewing tips! I ordered the 4 liter one as it was only an extra $10.

                  2. re: cgfan

                    Do you brew gong fu-style for light teas? Because I only use it for "heavier" stuff (e.g. oolongs, puerh, red)--I've never used it for anything "light" (or scented). As for "purists," although I've thrown a few tea parties in my office at school with "proper" equipment, for the most part I make "lotsa leaf" infusions in my little Piao I. Works for me!

                    1. re: MacGuffin

                      My brewing skills are minimal. I just put tea in my infuser and the infuser in the pot with water at the suggested time and temperature.

                      1. re: surfer1966

                        My question was in reply to cgfan. :) But I'd point out to you that most tea is highly dependent on proper brewing and it really is worth your while to do some in-depth research into what should be brewed how, if you will.

            2. Halcyon Teas in South Park is my go-to tea source for AMAZING green tea.


              1. I finally found excellent Green and Oolong Loose Leave teas to replace my great loss when Special Teas quite the internet business a year ago and my Tea Celler epty!

                Currently THE TEA SPOT on the internet in Cerritos near Long Beach has Clean fresh teas, organic and reguilar at reasonalble prices, fast free shipping.

                1. My wife and I were walking around the Del Mar Highlands shopping center and found a new store called "Leaf and Kettle" which sells some decent loose leaf teas. My wife picked up an oolong that has really good flavor.

                  Usually we wait until we take a trip up to LA to stock up on our green teas-- there is a store out in San Gabriel called Wing Hop Fung that has hundreds of varieties...

                  1. I really like Teavana for a nice selection of great loose leaf green teas and some nice blooming flowers. My favorite tea is their white pearl. There's one in Fashion Valley, Horton Plaza, and North County Fair. Jimbo's Market also has a small selection of quality loose leaf green teas.

                    1. Peet's is better known for their coffee but their selection of tea (both bags and loose) is very high in quality at a very good price point. I have bought better tea at specialty shops in London and Paris but the price was breathtaking and the quality only marginally better. Try Peet's Jasmine Downy Pearls if you like aromatic green tea. Their English Breakfast Tea is a good every day blend.

                      If you want to learn a lot about tea in a small book, read "The Tea Companion" by Jane Pettigrew. A warning is in order, however. Some tea drinkers can make Scotch drinkers look positively undiscriminating. Single malt whiskeys are seen by single plantation teas and then raised based on which side of the mountain the leaves were picked, the altitude at which the leaves were picked, and from where on the plant the leaves or buds were taken.

                      The history, tradition, and ceremony of tea drinking just add to the enjoyment of this beverage which is second only to water in consumption around the world. Plus it's low in calories, long on flavor, and does not impede your ability to work, play, or drive a vehicle.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: sandiegomike

                        Tried Peet's about 7 months ago and they had limited green tea selection and no plain loose leaf green teas. Only stuff with flavors like jasmine added or tea in bags. Their product may be good, problem is that I really prefer no flowery additives to my loose leaf green and white teas.

                        1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

                          You're right that the local Peets selection of loose tea is sometimes limited. They do have a pretty good web site though. Another good on-line selection of tea can be found at Upton Tea Imports (www.uptontea.com).

                          1. re: sandiegomike

                            Thanks for the tea tips! I'll have to try them when my current stash runs low. I really like Rishi brand jasmine and oolong I found on amazon.com. I also found this awesome floral tea named Siberian Rose at this tea shop in San Francisco named the Vital Tea Leaf. https://vitaltealeaf.net/

                            1. re: surfer1966

                              Rishi's Jasmine Pearls are really good (in fact, my Amazon review of them is among the "most helpful"). However, I would have to say that Seven Cups's "Yin Hao Long Zhu" and "Bi Tan Piao Xue" are a whole higher order of jasmine tea. Also, Tao of Tea's jasmine tea from Vietnam is very interesting--not as fine as the others I mentioned but definitely worth sampling (as are their other Vietnamese offerings).


                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                I'm curious as to the differences between the Rishi and the Seven Cups? What do you get going up to the next level?

                                1. re: surfer1966

                                  Better tea for less money? Seriously, that's true in general of Rishi vs. purveyors that specialize in one country (I know this because my entry into the world of tea was Rishi--I moved beyond them, with a few exceptions, pretty fast). The SC offerings taste better, period. Do a comparison. Bear in mind that regardless of whose jasmine tea you buy, it can be infused 3X and then soaked overnight in the fridge for iced tea the next day, so it's never as expensive as it seems.

                                  1. re: surfer1966

                                    I just got my monthly e-mail from Seven Cups and the Yin Hao Long Zhu are on sale this month if you want to try them: http://www.sevencups.com/tea_shop/Mon... . If you order them, make sure to join the Tea Club.

                              2. re: sandiegomike

                                I strongly second Upton, though it's been a couple of years since I've ordered anything from them...