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Wednesday, 30 January 2019


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dog, stick shift, color person AND black-and-white, team sports, coffee.

I made the switch from coffee to tea a few years ago. I was deep into coffee, including homeroasting, various brewing methods, etc. I was known for always having a strong cup of coffee in hand wherever I went. Due to some health issues, I lost the ability to tolerate strong flavors... like coffee. To maintain the caffein intake, I moved to tea. I have always dabbled in tea, so the switch wasn’t too difficult. I prefer heavier body teas, typically black tea, but I like oolong as well. Never warmed up to green or white tea, or herbal, flavored, or otherwise adulterated concoctions. Tea has turned out to be as all-encompassing as coffee with the nearly endless varieties, blends, single estates, variations from year to year, brewing methods, water, and on and on...

What a bit of fun! I ordered some of your favorite white tea to give it a try.

For astringent teas you might try "rinsing" them (discarding the first brew) to take the edge off.

I like using a tea tumbler like this one because the loose tea leaves look pretty.

"The years, they do get behind us"...I used to be able to remember who said that.

According to Google, you did. In 2017.

[I suppose there are some things I actually said, rather than repeated...maybe.... --Mike]

I was a teenage (paper filter) coffee drinker, when my parents drank instant. Bteween the 20's and 50's, I was a (first flush single estate) Darjeeling drinker, ordered direct from Darjeeling in India, which became much easier when the internet took off. Very light black tea.

During the last 10 years, I have gradually started drinking much more coffee, especially in the morning. I bought a Londinium Espresso machine.

The afternoon/evening is for what we in England call "builders tea". The latter has many variations, but in my case it is a Yorkshire tea bag infused in boiling RO water (with a TDS of about 90-100PPM of CalMag), for around 4-5 minutes, then a dash of organic cow milk, to blonde it a bit.

I think I am suggesting that this old git has lost his sense of taste and has to have everything concentrated now.

I have been told that the second steeping of the tea is essentially like decaf coffee.

My experience backs up this idea, as multi-steeped tea drunk at night has had no effect that I can notice on my sleep, which would not be the case for noticeable levels of caffeine.

FWIW the most important variable in how the tea tastes is the temperature of the water. Different varieties require very different temps, so be careful with that.

Gunpowder Tea with mint is a very good option. It is also known as "Maghrebi mint tea" or more commonly "Morroccan Mint Tea". Mint has been shown to increase the satisfaction and enthusiasm of office workers - good for the doldrums.

It doesn't seem that long ago that you were writing about coffee grinders and how to brew coffee. Your attention to detail then was, if you'll excuse me for saying, finicky, and I expect we'll see the same with tea.

You are so good at detail and fine distinctions that you could have been a lawyer, and I mean that as a compliment. The question is, though, could you have put up with the the sheer drudgery of lawyering?

More on Morroccan Tea, the tea is kept in the pot for three servings and the saying goes:
Le premier verre est aussi doux que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l'amour,
le troisième est aussi amer que la mort

I have, some nights, a great deal of trouble sleeping through the night. It happens, and I'm mostly resigned to it. I don't drink caffeine after lunch, and that helped somewhat. For a few years.

With our recent cold snap here in Minnesota, plus the high winds on Tuesday and Wednesday, the sidewalks I had cleared on Monday morning were covered by snowdrifts again yesterday evening when I arrived home. I spent a half hour shoveling in -15F weather (dressed appropriately), and only quit when sweat started running from under my hat, down on to my glasses, and instantly froze in place, effectively blinding me.

Best night of sleep in months last night. Just sayin'.

Mr. T? With boxing, mohawk, and the whole shebang? For a man your age, isn't this a bit too... adventurous, let's say?

[Heck, I'm younger than the real Mr. T! --Mike]

I still enjoy coffee, especially out in a café, but after drinking tea since forever, I stopped using it and just boil the water as usual and pour it straight into the mug with no tea anywhere in sight. If you have good water - I buy a brand from the Pyrenees - it tastes rather nice and avoids the acidic feeling in the belly that a couple of mugs of tea can give.

Give it a whirl; it's probably the more healthy option.

I'm definitely a coffee person, but I began to develop a deep appreciation for tea when I listened to Laszlo Montgomery's ten-part series The History of Tea. Like perhaps most people in the west, I'd always associated tea with the British, but it turns out they came late to it. It's actually a Chinese thing, one on which they had a monopoly for a very long time. (The story of how the British finally learned to cultivate it themselves is detailed in the series, and would make for a great Hollywood -- or Chinese -- adventure thriller.)

A word of warning, though. The China History Podcast can be addictive. If you're not careful you'll end up learning far more than you intended to -- while enjoying every moment.

Thank you. One less coffee drinker means more for me.

I started with coffee. Then OD'd on tea. Now I mainline coffee (again).

But during my tea period, my dealer was Upton Tea Imports. https://www.uptontea.com

Obsessed doesn't begin to describe these people. Just to warn you, they are NSFW. Pictures of naked tea leaves. (LOTS of pictures. ;-)

I learned to drink coffee as a teen while working outside during winter in New England. Later in life a French Canadian co-worker would yell "Café" which meant it was coffee break time. One day said co-worker looks at me and asks "why do we drink this? It doesn't taste good."

I still drink coffee but I have lost my taste for it. Over rated it is.

At first glance I assumed this would be a predictive chapter in this week’s gear fest!

The last time the topic of tea came up, someone suggested teas from Ippodo in Kyoto, Japan. I ordered their special new year's genmai cha (green tea with toasted rice) and Kanro gyokuro, helpfully designated "Try this first". Wonderful! But best to buy only what you can consume within ~6 months, which for me probably works out to about 50 grams.

Besides the teas themselves, my favorite accessories include a kitchen timer, a thermometer (infrared types work great) and a single-serving teapot.


1. What does drinking coffee do to you that you had to stop? (I am 76, have afib tendency, take meds for it, but still drink coffee. Cardiologist never advised stopping. I have an ultra-cheap espresso maker, and usually make 3 8 oz pots of it a day. Essentially, 3 very strong mugs of coffee.)

[I also have PVC's in addition to AFIB and the higher dose of caffeine in coffee appears to make it worse. The cardiologist didn't tell me to, I just decided on my own to reduce my caffeine intake. --MJ]

2. How has your house stood up to the deep freeze? Here 40 miles NW of Philly, we had -9 F this morning. With the opportunity presenting itself, I boiled a pan of water, and tossed it out from the front porch. Fun to do, if you haven't tried it.

[No problems so far, knock on wood! --MJ]

3. Have you settled on camera bag yet?

[Nope, but that's because my cheap gene kicked in and I decided not to spend any money just now. Actually, all my life I've had trouble spending money on photographic non-essentials. At least as I define the term for myself. --MJ]

Being at the point where I didn't know what I had where, I needed to simplify. I pulled out all of my camera bags, and began implementing a OB/OC/nL strategy, "n" being the number of lens I could fit in the bag, including the one mounted on the camera. I've tagged each bag with what's inside. E.g., D700, SD14, GX7, GH2, so that I just have to grab whichever one I want to use. The bonus is, anything that's left over I've put on a table, with an identifying sticky tag. The next step is either eBay or Craigs.

Tripods are next!

I have a couple of pleasant tea memories. My first job after grad school in the early 70's was with UNESCO in Mexico City. It was my first experience living outside the US, as well as my first encounter with the community of international players. Early on at one of the frequent UN receptions celebrating some staffer's national holiday, I had my first chat with the cultural attaché from the British embassy. He could have come straight from a Monty Python set: clipped accent, ramrod straight, blue blazer, school tie and spit-polished shoes. As it was our first meeting, he took pains to explain how it was impossible to brew a proper cup of tea in Mexico City because, at our altitude (7500 feet), water boiled at only about 195 degrees. A memorable introduction to the relative levels of hardship one has to endure in international service.

Twenty-odd years later, I did a two-year stint in London for a different employer (not UN-related) and came to better appreciate the British love of tea and associated rituals. In particular, the office routine of the "tea lady" making the rounds of the cubicles with her tea cart every afternoon at about 4:00 so everyone could properly brace themselves for the final push of the day. Charming custom.

I seldom drink hot tea, but when I do, I drink only Twinings breakfast tea. (I have never liked coffee). Cheers.

Mike, l seem to recall just a few years ago you were extolling the benefits of your new coffee roaster and grinder. If you still have the roaster, I’ll take it off your hands so you don’t clutter up your kitchen. No interest in your grinder though. I bought a Ceado last year which could prompt a similar query to your camera cost post “Is $1,000 Too Much For a Grinder?”

Currently, coffee and tea are engaged in an epic battle for my soul, so I appreciate the inspiration! Right now, a green tea/white tea blend is holding its own against the forces of java, but each morning I crave the smell of fresh brewed coffee and frequently succumb to it. To me, it's intoxicating. I often think that the reason I got hooked on coffee is because of its smell. If some medium format camera manufacturer ever releases a coffee scented camera I'm screwed. :)

I did this more or less two years ago and certainly credit both TOP and Ctein for the impetus to experiment with it. I never particularly liked coffee, unless it was full of flavorings and sugar-which is why I still drink an increasingly small amount of soft drinks-my true addiction since my youth. Still just like this morning, I could have had coffee, it would have been simpler to make, etc. Tea doesn't yet for me go with a hearty breakfast, but it is great with a couple of cookies (even the occasional Twinkie or two). I like Puer the best so far. Some of the more floral teas are good as well, but I come back to the Puer. Thanks to you and to Ctein, for the educational opportunity that TOP has always been outside of Photography. Now can we get back to a discussion of great Audio-particularly the benefits of reducing reflections from TV and Framed, glass covered artwork? I found that to be the equivalent of purchasing an even more expensive system.

Doing a blind test on yourself:
Take two identical bottles/containers and fill each with the exact same amount of water.

Put a mark in a spot that you can't see without trying to look. (i.e., inside the cap of a plastic bottle)

Put the bottles in some suitable container and spin it. (You are close enough you could send them over Niagara falls in a barrel!)

Choose one bottle and taste it. Taste the other. Write your observations. Look at the marks.

Warning: back of napkin, rusty at it, etc.

Aerator helps oxygen diffuse in water (or wine), flow of substance due to diffusion:

F = -D*df/dx,

where df is change in concentration, we'll use mg/cm3, over the distance dx

Diffusion coefficient for oxygen in water at 77F and atmospheric pressure: 2.42e-5 cm2/s

Let's say we are aerating completely oxygen-less wine. And we will avoid diff equation, because it's just an estimate. At the surface, we have oxygen at maximum
possible concentration, which is 8.3 mg/l at atm pressure and 77F.

"In the center" we have zero oxygen concentration, so df is full 8.3 mg/1000 cm3.

What is dx? something like diameter of the tube in aerator, let's say .5 cm.

If concentration linearly drops over this df, flow of oxygen will be

2.42e-5 cm2/s * 8.3 e-3 mg/cm3 / 0.5 cm =
approx 1 e-7 mg/cm2

In other words, it will take about 8.3/1e-7 = 83,000,000 seconds = 1152 hours for the oxygen concentration to reach it's peak on the other side of cubic centimeter of water.
How much time does water spend going through the aerator? a second to be generous?

Probably nothing noticeable happens as it pours through the aerator. Of course, there are small bubbles, which through estimate off, but I suspect not by a factor of eighty million.

May be put water in a tank and use aquarium aerator (a lot of small bubbles, faster exchange) and give it a day or two?

I use a tea taster set. Very practical and very simple and quite cheap.
Few tea leaves, hot water and then I let it sit for as long as it takes to cool down. Wellmade teas will survive that remorseless approach.
And then I try to find out what I appreciate about that particular tea today. Can be different the next day. Craftmanship often yields well rounded teas.
I came to enjoy small batch dark Oolongs and especially fired Oolongs from Taiwan's family gardens. Black teas come next.

A worthy journey and never ending story. And you took the first steps.


Mike, just a heads-up. When I went to the Amazon link for buying the white peony tea, I was given a 7.99 "promotion" reduction in the price. The tea ended up costing only $2, including shipping! (I use Amazon Prime, but don't know if that was the reason for the discount.)

A life without tea would be unthinkable and in fact I'm drinking tea as I type.

I've never liked coffee but I do like the occasional hot chocolate but mostly it's tea for me. When I'm abroad I take a bag of tea bags with me just incase I don't like the local stuff.

Tea is the reason the industrial revolution happened in the UK rather than anywhere else.



If I may break the chat/reply rule just for this item:

I've had two heart attacks and am the proud owner of two stents.

Three different cardiologists have told me to limit my coffee to one cup per day. I tend to have two, but always decaffed.

Wine intake is also cardiologist-limited to one glass of red per day.

I asked about salt intake, and was told that as I didn't have hypertension it wasn't an issue in my case.

Considering just how little things such as coffee, tea or wine actually mean in life, I'd follow the advice of the cardios - more or less.

Good luck!


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