Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

Please see my current blog at

24 October 2005

Traveling with Tea

I've been traveling quite a bit the last few weeks: flying to Utah, driving into Wyoming, back to Utah, then returning home to Washington just in time for a a quick trip to Portland, Oregon. I'm home again, but one of my best friends is in Seattle for a conference, and I'm happily spending lots of time with her for the next couple of days. (I'm trying to get her to move here, so she's getting a tour of all of the fun sites in and around Seattle -- ferry rides, walks in the rain, the Pike Place Market, and more).

I'll post some fun photos of my trips soon, and I'll also be catching up on some tea tasting notes. For today, though, here are a few thoughts on traveling with tea.

  • It really isn't hard to pack up small bags/canisters of tea. I prefer bags because they're lighter, but canisters are good to protect fragile leaves. When I'm staying at hotels, I bring my own kettle for heating water (most U.S. hotels provide coffeemakers in rooms, but these always taste of coffee). When I'm going to homes of family and friends, I just bring tea and a small chatsford filter (you can stick the filter directly in a cup to brew the tea).

  • I'm very glad that I saved the small box that my glass gaiwan (from was shipped in. It protected the cup, which I kept in my carry-on bag. I then used it for an oolong tasting session with my brother and sister.

  • Water changes everything. I've used city water, well water, bottled water, and filtered water on my trip. There is an amazing difference in how this affects the flavor of tea. In Wyoming, the water has much calcium and is very "hard." My parents have well water, naturally filtered through the underground limestone aquifers beneath, and the water has a wonderfully clear, mountain flavor. The mineral content, however, can really flatten some teas. This same water makes an incredible cup of smokey tea -- russian caravan or lapsang souchongs do really well with hard water.

  • Some teas are just sturdier than others, and they stand up to variations in water, boiling temperatures, and less than perfect brewing conditions. I had great luck with a medium-roast dong ding oolong, but some of the more floral oolongs were likely to go astringent or lose their floral essence. The golden yunnan that is spicy and wonderful here in Seattle just didn't take to the water in some of the places I've been. On the other hand, the Golden Yunnan from Floating Leaves was consistent and stood up to a wide range of brewing conditions.

  • Japanese pottery cups are really great for sipping tea outdoors, whether you brew it outside yourself or you're just carrying a thermos. The cups are sturdy, easy to hold, warm your hands just a bit, and don't have handles that are likely to break when transported (or dropped, as I occasionally do). They also pack up in bags and are easy to stuff in a cooler.

I'll post more in a few days, after I've had a chance to catch up to things here. :)


Blogger Steph said...

I travel quite a bit for my job, and I take a metal teaspoon filter with me. I get a chuckle when the TSA staff finds my tea stash and tea spoon suspicious! >-)

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Christine said...

Great travel tips, Cindy, thanks!

7:48 AM  
Blogger Stephane said...

It's nice to have you home! (and blogging again!)
You're experience with water from different places is very interesting. Lately, I've been experimenting with active bamboo charcoal and get nice results to filter and improve my water. You can read more about it here:
Chinese water is best for Chinese tea

3:21 AM  
Blogger Knitty Cat said...

Sounds like you had much fun! I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to Salt Lake. Maybe I could come up to hubby has family in Seattle

1:26 PM  
Blogger Knitty Cat said...

You still there? It's been nearly a month!

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Naomi said...

What tearooms do you usually visit while you are in Portland?

(Hi, I'm Naomi again. I commented on your blog in May while I was in Japan but I have since returned to Portland. =) )

11:15 PM  
Blogger Knitty Cat said...

you're starting to scare me hon!

7:53 PM  
Blogger Stephane said...

I concur Tea posur. Whatever the reason for your absence, we hope you're OK and wish you a merry Xmas.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Mariam Sultana said...

Hello! I was just wondering if you would be interested in a video I made about how to drink tea in a different culture. Your travelling blog reminded me of it :]

I would love your feedback on it because you seem to know your tea!


2:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home