Yes, please! One cream and two sugars if you will. Ahhhh, that’s delicious!
My love affair with tea goes back to my childhood though I can’t point to a single point of origin. All my parents were at least passingly fond of it so it was in the house growing up no matter where I was. In my early passions, I was fond of absolutely saturating my tea with sugar and then also with milk. The resulting concoction was a sweet milky drink alien to most folks I knew. I even took to adding food coloring to further confound anyone asking about it. I’d make vats of the stuff in one-gallon Adam’s Peanut Butter jars (another passion of my adolescent years). It wasn’t until much later I came to learn my creation was not so far from southeast Asia desert teas or southern sweet tea. Living in Anchorage, Alaska these culinary treats were unknown to me at the time.
In these early years, tea meant bagged tea, Lipton or Celestial Seasonings were among those I remember. It wasn’t until my third year of college when I attended the University of Washington that I discovered the world of loose leaf tea. Halfway between where I rented a room and the university was Teahouse Kuan Yin. I was making enough money at the time to eat out occasionally, a big boost from when I worked in movie theaters, so I decided to order some tea here. It was amazing, and I bought some loose leaf to take home along with a cheap teapot to brew it in. From there I discovered other tea shops and most notably an import store near the university that had incredibly cheap bulk tea from china.
Soon I had dozens of teas and was brewing daily if not hourly. By the time I met Trail a few years later I was a hardcore tea junkie with a special passion for Lapsang, a smoked tea best known as Sherlock Holmes favorite. It wasn’t very long before Trail was also hooked on the stuff and had her own favorites. By the time we were preparing for our grand adventure we were buying one and two-pound bags of tea fairly often, a product usually sold by the ounce to most consumers. One thing we were not giving up on during our travels was tea.
The essentials of tea are as follows: good loose leaf tea, airtight storage for the tea, good water to brew the tea in, a means to heat the water to near boiling, a means to brew the tea in the hot water, something to drink it out of, and whatever additives you most enjoy in your tea.
Good Tea: Going to local tea shops is nice because you can smell and often sample the teas. Until you know what your favorite staples are, this is the way to go. Once you start going for big orders of your favorites, mail order is often half the cost, Silk Roads Tea is our favorite as they personally inspect the places they buy from. That said it can be tricky when you live on the road so we once again buy from local shops much of the time.
Airtight Storage: Exposure to Air will leach flavor from your tea over time and moist air can lead to mold in your tea. Good food storage is always essential in an RV to prevent pests and keep things tidy when the RV is bumping down the road. We get most of our containers at Bed Bath and Beyond or The Container Store but these containers on Amazon are the sort we have.
Good Water: Living in Seattle we had lots of this, they have incredible city water. Out on the road, well you have to watch out for arsenic and lead and whatever else is in the local water supply. One stop we were on warned the local water supply was deemed flat out unsafe to drink. You can buy water, which we do sometimes, or filter it, which we do most of the time. We’ve also found some parks have very nice spring water they encourage visitors to use so we have some gallon jugs we bring along to fill up.
Heating Water: Different teas require different temperatures for optimal brewing and flavor. We’ve found electric water heaters are the fastest way to heat water and systems that can keep it hot are ideal for frequent cups. We have this guy Zojirushi Water Boiler and it’s amazing. It heats water to specific temperatures and keeps it there as long as you like, dispensing it at the touch of a button. If you boondock you will want a kettle you can heat with propane. Since we don’t do that much we just heat the water in a pot with the lid on.
Remember, Tea is very macho: Civilizations fall, but steam will always rise!
Brewing: Before hitting the road we had a sizable collection of teapots from around the world. While all were functional, most were just decoration for us. Hitting the road we needed something small and portable but also rugged. We also needed two since Trail and I sometimes differ in what tea we’d most like at a given moment. Having disposable empty tea bags like these are one good option as you can brew what you like in any container you like. In addition, we also have two of these, insulated travel teapots. They keep the tea hot for a while, have a built in filter, have a nice spout, and are hard to tip over.
Drinking: We found a couple of insulated aluminum mugs we use for all hot drinks in the trailer. They keep the drink cool or warm and yet the handle remains room temperature. They are also near impossible to break and easy to clean. The only downside is they are no good for the microwave.
Extras: I like Splenda in my tea as it has a fruity flavor I enjoy. Trail likes stevia products since it is a natural sweetener. I like my tea both straight and with Half and Half which for me gives the right creaminess. Honey is also a great thing to have on board. Trail likes to use chopsticks and I find those are ideal for stirring tea due to their length and being easy to clean.
There you have it, the why’s and wherefores of my tea drinking passion. I will leave you with this ode to by passion from Professor Elemental.