As a telecommuter, I drank a lot of coffee. When I worked from home, I polished off a pot before noon, and when I worked from coffee shops I’d drink a couple of large lattes before lunch.
This presented a few problems:
- Caffeine makes me cranky (when consumed in these kinds of quantities)
- Lattes have calories (around 150-300 depending on the milk)
- I moved to the middle of nowhere, 16 miles from the nearest coffee shop. (16 miles is a heck of a long distance when there’s icy roads.)
A few DBAs on Twitter were talking about their love of teas, so I did some research and fell in love with the Adagio Teas web site. They offer things that make it easy to get started with teas, like:
- Starter Set – for $19, you get several different kinds of teas in a given family, plus their ingenuiTEA teapot. It’s microwave and dishwasher safe, easy to use, and uses loose tea leaves instead of bags. The video makes it look like your cup has to fit exactly under the teapot, but I use it with bigger cups. You just push the rim up of the cup against the ingenuiTEA’s trigger, and as Erika says, the teapot pees into your cup.
- Sampler Six-Packs – for $16, you get 6 tins of teas in a family. There’s a black tea sampler, oolong sampler, rooibos sampler, you name it.
- Individual Samplers – if just one tea calls your name but you’re not sure about it, you can get a small sample-size tin of it for a few bucks. Different teas are priced differently.
I had no idea what I’d like, so I picked up a starter set of black teas and a couple of sampler packs for around $60 total. It seems like a heck of a lot of money when you can go to the supermarket and get a box of tea bags for $2, but if you’re a coffee addict, think of it this way: you can’t buy a decent coffeepot for $60. (Yes, cheapskates, you can get a Mr. Coffee for $15, but if you’re drinking coffee out of that, you’re not really an addict.)
I’m hooked. Big time. Here’s my findings so far:
Golden Monkey is a great tea for coffee addicts. It’s got a dark, complex flavor that reminds me of coffee. It doesn’t taste like coffee, mind you, but if you’re a coffee addict that appreciates dark, subtle differences in flavor, you’ll probably like this. It doesn’t have that pleasant coffee aroma by any means: one of the reviewers on Adagio said it has the flavor of warm mushrooms, and I’d say that’s a good description of the aroma too. This one does have caffeine.
Rooibos Earl Gray is amazing. Rooibos is an herbal tea, not a real “tea” in the traditional sense, but I wanted to try it because it’s caffeine-free. If you’re just getting started with teas and you’re thinking about avoiding caffeine, it makes sense to start with Rooibos since you won’t know what you’re missing. Earl Grey refers to tea made with an orange oil, and Adagio’s Rooibos Earl Grey throws in some orange rind as well. I tried several black teas before I tried an Earl Grey,and when I first smelled the Earl Grey, I think I actually said “Eureka!” out loud.
They’re serious when they give temperatures and brew times. Adagio’s tea containers have the water temperature and steeping times printed right on them, making it easy for tea n00bs like me to do it right. Let the tea steep too long, even just a minute too long, and it tastes bitter and nasty.
The ingenuiTEA teapot makes the experience more fun. I like having a clear teapot, watching the leaves blossom and color the water. Part of the joy of coffee and tea is the brewing experience – this is the same reason I used to like my Bodum Santos, a vacuum-driven coffee pot. It was just fun to watch.
I’m not swearing off coffee – it’s still my favorite beverage, but now I have a pleasant alternative I can use while I’m telecommuting in Michigan. When I get back to Houston this fall, I’ll probably settle back into my old ways at Coffee Groundz.