Tea Time Experimentation

Ok, full disclosure here: before undergoing this experiment (I enjoy calling it an experiment - it makes me feel like a scientist), I had only tried real tea once before and wasn't a fan. This excludes Passion Fruit tea, because of its fruity flavor. I wanted to give tea another chance, though, so when I discovered some delicious sounding flavored tea online, I rolled with it. I bought two flavors, French Vanilla and Chocolate Coconut, because I knew that if I was going to like any tea, it would be tea with these bold yet familiar flavors. 

Here's the catch, though. the tea is loose leaf, and brewing it in a standard fashion involves teapots, kettles, infusers, and the like. For someone who isn't even sure they like tea, that seems like a big financial investment. I researched methods of brewing loose leaf tea without those items. This way, I could see if A) I liked tea after giving it another try and B) investing money into legit tea items was worth it. Bonified tea connoisseurs are going to hate everything about this post. Anyway, here we go:

I got so excited that before my tea arrived in the mail, I went to Pottery Place and painted a teacup for the occasion. I decided to go with an Alice in Wonderland theme and painted, with the help of my friend Laura, "Drink Me" on the cup. It turned out great. Finally, my tea arrived, and the experimentation began!

Experiment #1: My K Cup
My mother-in-law suggested that I purchase a My K Cup, pop the loose tea leaves in it, and see how that went. A My K Cup only costs $9 (and I can use it for coffee should the whole tea thing not work out), so it seemed like a solid plan. I watched a video on YouTube in preparation and got to business. I put one teaspoon of the Chocolate Coconut tea in the My K Cup and used the smallest Keurig setting, aka the teacup one. It came out pretty light in color, but the smell was phenomenal. It tasted a little weak, but I was going to see this experiment through. I added some honey and milk which helped the taste a little, but it was still very weak and bland.  There was a slight coconut flavor, but it was nothing to write home about. After finishing the cup of tea, I checked the leaves in the My K Cup, and they didn't look very saturated, leading me to conclude that it definitely needed more time to steep. This experiment did not go as planned, but THIS IS HOW WE LEARN! I decided to take another approach.
Chocolate Coconut leaves
Experiment #2: Follow the Directions on the Tea Packet
A novel concept, I know. However, it was a little intimidating for an amateur like myself. The directions say to put a teaspoon of the tea into your cup, pour in hot water, let it steep, then enjoy. The thought of loose tea leaves hanging out in my cup was weird for me because I'm especially picky about texture in the things I eat and drink, but in the name of science, I gave it a go. 
I forgot to take photos of the liquid tea, so leaf photos all day!
And it was awful. I used the Chocolate Coconut again so that I could better compare the results in experiments 1 & 2. It looked really beautiful while steeping for ten minutes, but the taste was no stronger than it had been in the My K Cup for ten seconds. Instead of using milk and honey for flavoring, I opted for sugar because I use it in everything else for flavoring. Mary Poppins assured me that just a spoonful would help, but there was no difference in taste. When I added another spoonful, though, it became sickeningly sweet - too sweet for even my sweet tooth to bear. Additionally, the coconuts in the tea did not sink to the bottom, so texturally it was not appealing to me. Was it time to give up, pack it in? No! Maybe the Chocolate Coconut tea wasn't for me, so I tried both methods again with the French Vanilla flavor. 

Experiment #3: French Vanilla in My K Cup
The tea was still super weak in flavor, again due to the low steep time. I also could not exactly duplicate experiment #1 because at this point I ran out of milk. On to experiment #4!

French Vanilla Leaves

Experiment #4: Follow the Directions on the French Vanilla Tea Packet 
I let the tea steep for ten minutes (the French Vanilla was not as lovely to behold in the cup as was the Chocolate Coconut), added about a teaspoon of sugar, and it still had an extremely weak flavor. I had begun to think tea was not for me, but I had one more experiment to perform...

Experiment #5: Tazo Chai Latte K-Cups
Laura frequently uses my Keurig when she visits, so in order to pay me back for the coffee and tea she has consumed, she bought me a box of Tazo Chai Latte K-Cups. Given my recent tea struggles, I was not happy that I had 12 new cups of tea in my home. In the name of science, though, I gave the Chai a try. All of the ingredients are natural, which is great, and this tea was actually delicious! I absolutely loved it. It was a bit on the sweet side, but it wasn't overwhelming. It tastes great with some homemade banana bread (a post to come on that later), by the way. From here on out, a Chai latte will be my tea of choice.

In general, it seems that tea is not for me, with the exception of a Chai latte. At least I can now say I gave it the old college try, though. What do you think, Hipsters? Is there another tea out there that may catch my fancy? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. This post was just my cup of tea! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) I love tea. I make it with traditional tea bags and wonder if you might be happier with tea in that format? My favorite (of all time) is Bigelow Constant Comment. It is a medium strength tea with a little bit of spice (sort of cinnamony). I like pretty much anything by Bigelow, Twinings, or Celestial Seasonings, though. - Trish

    1. Trish, bags are another route I should look into, yes. I definitely like the sound of the spice in Bigelow Constant Comment; I think that's why I like the Chai so much (the cinnamon and cardamom). Great tea recommendations! Thank you!




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