The Tea You Need

You appreciate the finer things in life: nice wines, fast cars, old Scotch. So why are you drinking supermarket tea? As with most things, a little thoughtfulness can elevate your tea-drinking experience from mundane to sublime. We consulted with Kevin Gascoyne, owner of Montreal’s Camellia Sinensis, for some pointers.

Learn What Tea You Like
Any proper teahouse should offer tastings and consultations. (David’s Tea is a good national chain.) Head in to determine, first, what category of tea you like best. Outside of the herbal stuff, all tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant, and whether it’s black, green, white or oolong (or yellow, or pu-erh) is essentially a function of how long it’s oxidized for.

Buy Some Tea
Start with a couple of 50-gram bags and taste widely. And think regionally: If you like black, go with Indian Darjeeling. For green, opt for Japan’s Sencha Ashikubo, and for white, trust China’s Bai Mu Dan. And so on.

Master the Tea Technique
Good teas seldom come in tea bags. Control your dosage with a steeping vessel, like the slick glass Miko, or this English Muffin infuser. Steeping temperatures and times range widely, (from 65 C to 99 C, and seconds to minutes), so always Google before you steep.

Drink Some Tea
Gascoyne advocates the “pleasure approach.” We like the sound of that. Drink slowly, and don’t be afraid to slurp; as with wine, allowing air into the mix means you’ll enjoy the flavours more completely.

Image courtesy of Thorsten Becker.

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