Fancy Tea Drinkers, with Pinkies Extended

We’ve decided to explore a strange new world … of tea. Specifically, loose-leaf tea. Which we figured was probably tastier than the stuff that comes in bags (and boy howdy, did we figure right).

So instead of getting a perforated metal acorn-shaped tea ball or anything like that, we went with the techy gadget:

Yes, the name is a bit overly clever. But the IngenuiTEA is a pretty sharp little item. Scott already has an AeroPress coffee maker, which he loves the everloving crap out of. And it certainly makes the coffee creation process quick, clean, and easy.

Anyhoo, with this little doodad, you fill it with the tea leaves, heat up some water in a kettle or the microwave, then pour the water into the pot and close the lid.

Things get all steepy, for however long you’re supposed to let things steep. Most of what we’re trying out are black teas or spicy chai blends, so it’s usually 5 minutes or so. But then, the really cool part:

Put the thing on top of your teacup or mug or glass, and it takes a tea whiz through the bottom!

Because I’m twelve years old inside, I don’t think I’ll get tired of this device taking a tea-pee anytime soon.

We got the 16-ounce IngenuiTEA, but they also make a 32-ounce for the truly hardcore tea drinker. But we find the 16-ounce model gives us each a nice little 8-ounce cup, just enough tea for a tasty and refreshing treat, but not so much that it gets cold before you’re done drinking it.

So, how about the teas themselves? They’re all WAY better than stuff made with a bag.

We went to our local big bulk tea store, TeaVana, out at the mall. Unfortunately, the smallest amount they’ll sell is two ounces, which can range from five or six bucks up to twenty or more. And they stress how much you need to keep it in airtight, light-tight tins. Do you want to buy some of their tins? For another ten bucks each? No? Fine, we’ll put it in one of these roll-top bags. But if it goes stale, it’s all your fault.

We also ordered some samples from Adagio, the actual makers of the IngenuiTEA. They don’t try to foist their tins on you, and they’ll send 0.8-ounce sample packages of any damn tea they have, at two bucks for most of them (some of the fancy-pants teas are three or more dollars for the samples, but everything we’ve tried so far is a two-bucker). Plus, they come in light-tight zip-top bags. Which is just as good as an airtight tin, if you ask me. Heck, probably better, because you can squeeze out the extra air.

We did get some tins at the IKEA for the stuff we got from TeaVana. They have magnets on the back. So here’s a glimpse of our fridge, where we’re sticking them:

Fortunately, Adagio (home of the quick shipping and plentiful cheap samples) has the best teas so far. We have another selection of samples in the mail right now (it would appear they’re currently in New Jersey), along with a larger package of the rooibos vanilla chai, my total favorite so far.

(Perhaps we’ll open up that berry blast tonight. A tea without actual tea leaves is a fascinating concept.)

So, anyone out there a loose-leaf tea fan? Any recommendations, advice, or pointers? We’re total novices, but I can see how we can totally go down the rabbit hole and become real crazy tea hoarders. Let me know what you think!

Also, if you want to try out Adagio teas, they let me give out $5 coupon codes. But they’re only good for 24 hours. So if you’d like to get $5 off, while at the same time helping me collect some sort of “frequent teabagger” points, please let me know.

Now I think it’s time for a nice, warm cup of tea. Which I can sip while I’m playing Borderlands, happily shotgunning mutants in the face. Aaaah, such a life of finery!