Athletes aspire to get their own sneaker. I'm not an athlete and I don't wear sneakers, but today I'm announcing the equivalent in my world: my own tea set!
But first, a little background. I don't remember when I first drank tea, but I do remember that at the time that I found out how healthy it is, I hated tea. I thought that it tasted like bathwater. But newly aware of its health benefits, I was determined to like it. My method was to drink six cups a day until I changed my mind -- aggressive taste acquiring.
And, sure enough, after a week or so of little Lipton tea bags, I decided that I liked green tea enough to continue to drink it. I wasn't a connoisseur, but I was an enthusiast, downing the stuff solely for the health benefits.
My taste buds first perked up when I stayed at the Lalu hotel in Taiwan. Every activity there (check in, going to sleep, visiting the pool) was accompanied by some sort of tea, and they were all spectacular. The green tea which was delivered to the room every night was amazing -- it bore very little resemblance to the tea I was used to brewing from small paper tea bags. I had no idea tea could be so spectacularly tasty.
Somehow I heard about Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco. People threw around phrases that you'll now hear me say, like "best tea shop in the world", so I naturally had to visit. Since then there hasn't been a three day stretch of time that's passed where I've been in San Francisco and not gone to Samovar. The tea is the best I've ever had, I'm now friends with most of the staff, and the atmosphere is conducive to sitting down and writing, reading a book (copies of Life Nomadic are in a basket by the door), or spending a few hours chatting with friends. I even have my Japanese lessons there.
A month or two ago I sat down with Jesse, the owner, and we talked about creating a tea set from my favorite teas so that readers could share the experience. And we have! The three teas I drink the most (Kukicha twig tea, Orange Ginger herbal tea, and Ryokucha green tea) and an awesome travel tea thermos are included. You can check out the page at Samovar for more info and for a video explaining why I like each tea so much and showing Jesse brewing tea in the tea thermos.
Speaking of videos, I have another one to share right here. Good tea is relatively expensive, bad tea is cheap, and the difference in quality is enormous. To show the difference, Jesse and I did a "Tea Autopsy", where we cut apart some tea bags and compared them to Samovar teas. I bought the teas for the comparison, and chose the cheapest bagged tea and the most expensive I could find. Check it out below:
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(Thanks to Todd for filming, and I apologize for the poor audio. I had a separate mic but messed up recording with it...)
Check out Tynan's Traveling Tea Set Here!
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