Friday, March 9, 2012


This post is all about Loose-Leaf Tea...

Being environmentally conscious and on the eternal quest for the best cup of tea, I started buying loose-leaf tea a few years ago. I drink a cup of tea almost every single day, so using regular packaged tea bags creates a lot of waste. When using loose-leaf tea the only rubbish generated is plant matter, not tea bags, paper, or string.

Transitioning to loose-leaf tea is very easy and I find the quality to be much better than prepackaged tea. Additionally, when you buy loose-leaf tea you can usually see the individual tea leaves, smell them, and learn about where they came from.

In order to use loose-leaf tea, you need a tea ball or tea cup with tea strainer.

Tea Ball
Teapot with strainer

I bought my tea ball from Disney World, but you can find them at any basic kitchen supply store. They are not hard to find and they come in a variety of designs and materials. I've seen ones made of bamboo and even silicon. I would recommend buying one with a chain or some kind of leash that allows you to pull it out of a cup of tea. Teapots with strainers also come in a variety of designs, sizes, and materials.

Here's how tea balls work:

Opened tea ball with tea ball holder

Fill tea ball with desired tea

Close tea ball, place in mug or tea cup and enjoy
Places to get loose-leaf tea:

In NYC the best places are in Chinatown. There are other places throughout Manhattan but they tend to be fancy establishments that are more about luxury. Here are two awesome places to find loose-leaf tea in the city.

79 Bayard Street
New York, NY 10013

I recently discovered this tiny shop. It's walls are stocked floor to ceiling with jars full of every variety of tea you can imagine. There are also many herbs and spices here. The tea lady is super helpful and knows everything about tea. There are a variety of quality levels and prices to choose from. You can easily find something you'll love. They also offer bubble tea here, but I found it to be watery. You're better off just coming here for the loose-leaf tea.

Here are my two most recent purchases:

Jasmine and Rose Green Tea

Snow White (Jasmine White Tea)

New Kam Man Market
200 Canal Street
New York, NY 10079

Also located in Chinatown, this three floor shopping market is a must. I dare you to go inside without buying anything. The tea section is located on the basement level. You can buy individual tins of loose-leaf tea or you can purchase an assortment of teas by the ounce from jars. There is less of a variety than at Sun's, but New Kam Man carries all the most popular types. The main floor of this market is where you can find a vast assortment of Asian snacks and grocery items. I love to come here for their selection of Japanese snacks. The top floor is basically a Sanrio store. You can find all things Hello Kitty as well as other popular characters, Japanese chotchkies, and beauty products.

I'd also like to recommend Lupicia Fresh Tea in Honolulu, Hawaii. 
Ala Moana Shopping Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96814

On the bottom level of Ala Moana, this tea shop has such a great selection. All the teas are stored in boxes on the shop walls and there are samples of each tea on the counters. Lupicia also often has free taste samples of their featured products. The staff here is very helpful and knowledgeable. This is a great store for tea accessories as well. Lupicia also has two other US locations in California.

Additional Note:
I have the same philosophy when I drink coffee. I use a Bodum french press and a Primula Express stove top espresso maker.

Stove Top Espresso Maker

Bodum French Press

You don't need to use coffee filters as with coffee makers. All you need is coffee grounds and water. I also don't like keurig coffee makers or other related brands. These generate much more waste as you use a plastic k-cup for each cup of coffee.

French presses and stove top espresso makers are very easy to use and make great coffee fast. They are also much cheaper than coffee makers and less likely to break. There are several brands, sizes, styles, and colors to choose from. You just have to add coffee grounds and water.

Hope you enjoy these tips!

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