Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Laid Back Person's Guide To Tea on The Go

Like it or not, everybody must leave their house once in a while and venture out into the great unknown. If you're a lover of premium loose leaf teas these trips can raise some serious questions, such as: "Will there be good tea where I'm going?" "How much and what kinds of tea should I pack?" "How will I brew the teas that I bring?"

Whether you're going on an awesome vacation or just a routine business trip the Laid Back Person's Guide is here for you with some great tips on how to make the most of your tea on the go!

Tip #1 - Do your homework
We live in the age of online resources. Use them. Before going to a new city, I will always check Tea Map and Tea Guide (for tea shops and tea houses), and Happy Cow (for veggie restaurants and health food stores). If I don't find any tea places near my destination I still may be able to find a good cafe or coffee shop that serves decent tea. It also helps to ask your friends for their recommendations before visiting a new place. If you're vacationing at a rental cabin or condo, ask the proprietor if the unit already has mugs, a teapot and/or a kettle. That way you'll have a better idea of what you'll need to bring.

Tip #2 - Pack light
Just as some people pack too many shoes, we tea lovers have a tendency to bring too much tea! I recommend limiting yourself to no more than three teas and not packing more than an ounce or two of each. It helps to get a few very small tins to protect the leaves. As for teaware, I suggest only bringing one small strainer because I believe it can be fun trying to use what's available at your destination to brew the leaves you brought along (see tip #5 Get Creative). That being said, you should bring a sturdy lightweight mug and pan if you're going to be off the grid.

*Rule of Thumb - If you don't have any room for clothes
then you've packed too much tea!

Tip #3 - Go with the flow
You never know when an unplanned tea opportunity will present itself. Keep your itinerary loose and keep an eye out for other tea lovers. No matter where you go you will find other tea lovers. Whenever possible, drink what the locals are drinking and always be grateful and humble.

Tea People Are Everywhere!

Tip #4 - Settle
Sometimes you're just not going to get that perfect cup you crave. Perhaps you're in a large oppressive food court surrounded by teenagers in paper hats and you're just going to have to "settle for less." I usually feel that some tea is better than no tea (those of you who disagree may prefer to order some coffee when no good tea is available). For me, a teabag of English Breakfast is usually safe and should be cheap or I might purchase a ready-to-drink bottle of brewed tea. For what it's worth, I've been known to order a "tall China green tips with five ice cubes" at Starbucks and found it to be a pleasant enough beverage.

Drinking teabag black teas from a rural Nor-Cal gas station.

Tip #5 - Get Creative
Sometimes you have to think like MacGyver when you're brewing tea outside of your comfort zone. Look all around you for anything that could be even a little bit useful. Maybe you have a stock pot, a wooden spoon and beer stein? You can make tea with that! Our Australian friends have been known to simply string a tin can over an open flame and toss in some leaves. I once poked a bunch of holes in a Dixie cup with a pen and used it as a tea strainer. It was no well-seasoned yixing clay teapot but, it still did the job.

Gold star for the most creative way to brew tea using only these items.

Thanks for reading today's edition of the Laid Back Person's guide! We really hope these 5 simple tips help some of you manage your crippling Tea Lover's Agoraphobia.

(Don't laugh, TLA is a very real psychological disorder!!!)


Alex Zorach said...

I've found a great solution to tea on the go is large-leaf, whole-leaf greener oolong that is good enough quality that you can oversteep it and it still tastes good. Then just throw the leaf in the cup and fish it out with a spoon when it's done brewing and drink the rest.

Amy said...

Great tips! I rarely travel, but when I do, I'll have to make sure to read this post again. Oh, and I love the MacGyver reference. Brilliant!