How’s that for a title!
And I’ll bet you’re wondering what in the world it has to do with gardening.
As close as it comes to gardening is that I enjoy my tea as much as I enjoy gardening. But in spite of that, this story is just too good not to tell.
The Tea Kettle and Infuser Story
I’m a tea drinker. And although I still love the smell of coffee, I don’t enjoy the taste.
For as far back as I can remember I boiled water for tea in one of my stainless steel sauce pans.
But in planning an event to take place in our home/business numerous years ago, I ordered an inexpensive stainless steel tea kettle from Amazon (like this one) thinking it would make a better appearance.
I never really enjoyed it, but used it for years. In spite of cleaning it far too often, it never looked clean. The supposed stainless steel seem to “peel” off around the hole where water was poured in.
Ordering a New Kettle
Some time back I decided it was time for new tea kettle. I wanted something that was a good quality BUT I didn’t want to pay an arm and leg for it. (Sometimes that’s a hard bill to fill.)
After a lot of looking and reading reviews I decided on The Genie. It’s a small kettle made from quality steel. Just the right size for me and a couple of guests should I have them. (Holds about 4 cups.)
Did I Make a Mistake?
After it arrived and I saw how delicate looking it was, I thought maybe I had made a mistake. So, as I sometimes do, I left it in the box to ponder the question and kept boiling my water for tea in a stainless steel saucepan.
(My habit of leaving new purchases in their box for a while – drove Bill crazy. He was like a kid at Christmas the minute something arrived and could hardly wait to get it out of the box and use it.)
After a month, I decided using the tea kettle would definitely be the best way to see if I had made a mistake.
I LOVE IT!
My stove (range) is a smooth surface. But the kettle can be used with all heat sources.
After an initial wash and rinse I filled the kettle no more than 3/4 full (about 4 cups of water) as instructed and placed it on my smallest burner with the kettle slightly off center so the handle would not be directly over the heated burner.
It won’t really hurt the handle to be over the burner, but it gets hotter that way. And you’d definitely need an oven mitt to pick it up. I find that if I place it off center I don’t need a mitt and can pick up the kettle by the handle without concern. BUT I never just grab it without a little touch test first for the sake of safety.
The Part I Love the Most
This teakettle makes me feel good when I use it. And I’d be proud to pour a cup of tea for the most select of guests using The Genie.
But the thing I love the most and that changed the way I bought and brewed tea was the part I thought I’d never use: the tea infuser.
As most of us know, buying loose tea in bulk is the most economical way to purchase tea. The savings are great.
The problem comes with being able to brew it and get all the tea leaf sediment out of the liquid when you pour your cup of tea.
Over the years I’ve tried a lot of tea infusers. None of them kept all the tea leaves inside the infuser. Tea leaf sediment always ended up in my cup of tea. I don’t know about you, but to me it’s pretty creepy to be drinking tea and get sediment along with your sip of tea.
So I always end up buying tea bags and not being able to take advantage of the savings AND the better taste of bulk tea.
This Tea Infuser Works!!
I had taken the infuser out of The Genie right away and set it aside.
Quite by accident and much to my delight, I found that it fit perfectly in my daily mugs.
(You can leave the infuser in the pot, steep the tea, and then pour. But I don’t want to have to clean tea stains from my kettle.) (You can also use this for “pour over” coffee.)
- Here’s what I do:
Place the infuser in my cup (mug).
Add 1 tsp of my preferred lose tea.
Pour in boiling water from my Genie teakettle.
Steep for 3 to 5 minutes depending on what variety I’m brewing.
Remove the basket (infuser). (I use a skewer to gently help lift it out.)
My tea is perfect and totally free of leaf residue!
Loose Tea Tastes Better?
I’ve found that the organic loose tea of both of my favorite teas taste much better than when I bought tea bags containing those varieties.
Maybe it’s just me. If you can tell a difference too (or not) I’d love to hear about it.
It helps if you have an air tight box (or tin) to store loose tea in to make sure that it doesn’t lose flavor over time. You could place all but what you’ll use this week in a zip lock bag and then place inside the tin.
My Two Favorite Teas
My favorite teas are English Breakfast and Rooibos (a/k/a Red Bush from Africa).
This is my tea with caffeine and the first of the day. (I need at least one cup a day to keep from getting that “caffeine withdrawal” headache. I allow myself two cups.)
- Rooibos Tea (a/k/a Red Bush or African Red Bush)
I love this tea.
Actually it’s an herbal tea, but it’s robust enough when brewed properly (at least 5 minutes) that it tastes like regular tea except without the bitterness of most teas. (Being low in tannins accounts for that.) And it has no caffeine.
In addition to tasting good, it’s good for you.
- Good source of the minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, copper, zine and magnesium.
- Source of flavonoids (name for the largest nutrient family) like luteoline and quercetin (which are also in onions).
- Has soothing properties that promote relaxation and sleep.
How I Discovered African Red Bush Tea (Rooibos tea)
More than a decade ago, a friend mentioned the series of books by Alexander McCall Smith entitled No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Since I stopped reading fiction more than 20 years ago – mainly because I wanted to give priority to other things I considered more important to me – I wasn’t interested. But Bill was.
Our friend had at least 6 of the series and loaned them to Bill. (They’re like an ongoing story so read them in order if you can. I believe there were 17 the last I heard.)
We were working long hard hours and needed to wind down some before going to sleep. To do that, Bill would read out loud from the books for at least 30 minutes. Usually, I was asleep before he finished.
The blurb about these books on Amazon said it perfectly: “In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe, with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi, navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea.”
That tea was Red Bush. And that’s how I came to discover Red Bush tea.
How You Might Benefit from My Story
The obvious way you might benefit is by trying for yourself The Genie teakettle, my favorite two teas, and relaxing by reading some of McCall’s series of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. (They achieved bestseller status on four continents.)
The second way you might benefit is by keeping in mind that one or all of these things might just fit the bill for someone on your gift buying list.
I hope you and/or the recipient of your gift will enjoy The Genie (with the Infuser), English Breakfast Tea, Rooibos Tea, and the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series as much as I have.
Now that I’m finished telling my story, I’ll heat up water in The Genie and have a cup of Red Bush. I’ll be thinking of you as I do.
You would probably not be surprised to hear that I collect tea pots – not exactly sure how it happened, except that they make me ridiculously happy. Now, I am coveting the Genie…..
What fun to read this. Some years ago I read a number of these books and loved rhem. I was fascinated with the daily cup of tea and was so happy when I found I could buy it. I have been using Numi brand, Honeybush and Red Bush bagged tea but will certainly try the loose.
I haven’t read the books for a while but think I will get the newer ones.
Thanks for a great piece.
What a delightful post. I, too, love rooibos!
Your article on tea and books made me smile. Thank-you for sharing yourself as I enjoyed my cup of coffee this early morning!
Dearest Kate, Mary, Beppy and Sue — I could hardly wait to get to the computer this morning to see if anyone had enjoyed my post as much as I enjoyed writing it! SO — you made me so happy — because obviously you did!!
Kate – you’re gonna LOVE The Genie!
Beppy, when I bought the red bush tea bags I bought Numi. I think you’ll really enjoy the loose tea. Let me know. I want to know if it’s my imagination that the loose is better. AND I really enjoyed learning that you discovered Red Bush as I did from the books!
Mary, come on over and join Beppy and me for cup of rooibos!
Sue, I’m delighted I made you smile!
Again, thanks to you 4 for making ME smile. (I hope there will be more — comments and smiles that is.)
Since I have a hiatal hernia, I can’t drink much coffee because of the acid. A friend suggested a “toddy” at toddycafe.com.
This is a cold brew coffeemaker. Now I can drink as much as I want without suffering.
I’m not a part of the company, just a satisfied user.
While you don’t have to have the toddy to make cold brewed coffee, it does make it easier.
On the subject of tea, if you have allergies, try stinging nettle tea. It really helps relieve the nasal symptoms.
Delightful post, thank you!
Jill Scott starred in a TV series about the No.1 Agency until Smith died. It held my interest even through commercials. It had twists at the end and life lessons that were generally positive (rare these days). I liked how the two detectives would mull over their plans with a cup of BUSH TEA, said with an accent, of course.
I was thinking about my ‘winter reading list,’ and you have given me just the thing. I didn’t realize there were so many books he wrote.
I live in western NC. I grow my own tea and dry it in my Sun Oven, electric dehydrator, or just on a tray on top of my refrigerator. I grow ginger and rosemary in pots in the ground and bring them inside for the winter; then they serve as air fresheners,too.
Also holy basil(or tulsi kapoor). It’s list of adaptagenic properties is looong. The polinators love the flowers and the other bugs don’t bother it. I used to start seedlings inside, but I’ve noticed that it self-seeds when I don’t clear the space too soon and don’t till much in the spring. It now ‘knows’ when to sprout on my north slope. (Or look up Organic India for bags or bulk.)
I plant lime, thai, and lemon basils. They smell and taste great as tea and as spice flavoring. I just consider the leaves that float in my tea as a ‘tiny dose of greens’ for the day.
If you appreciate the values of dandelions you might want to try Dandy Blend(.com), instant herbal beverage. Too many good things to list.
For a little caffeine (with benefits) check out yerba mate`.
I won’t get started on my mints…Yes, bulk, organic, and home grown taste better.
Time to go to the library.
I enjoy every one of your articles. Thank you so much for all you share.
Hey Frank. Glad you found a way to enjoy your coffee. I saw those “toddy”s on Amazon as well. Here:http://amzn.to/2dxNW3W.
Thanks for sharing.
I’m sure a lot folks with allergies will appreciate the tip on stinging nettle tea.
Marsha – what great information!
I love Dandelion tea and use to drink it a lot, but for some reason got away from that. I grow the cultivated dandelion, so maybe I should rethink the tea.
Assuming last night didn’t get too cold for my basil, I’m going out to get some and make tea on your recommendation.
How do you clean out the infuser? I could see myself beating it against the side of the scrap bowl and rinsing the rest down the drain. I’ve wanted to try bulk teas from Mountain Rose Herbs but never have since I don’t have a proper strainer.
I drink green tea for health purposes.
I read that tea in tea bags is much inferior to bulk tea. I’ve always used tea bags and since I am the only one who drinks tea, I boil a cup of hot water in the microwave, just under boiling, and steep a bag for 6-10 minutes and them put it in a small bottle leaving an inch in the cup. I add another inch and drink it. I put the bottle in the fridge and use it for two days one inch in a cup and add cold water and heat for about 440 seconds.
I an going to buy bulk green tea this time and look for an infuser like yours, or simply strain it with a coffee filter. I also add a tough of lemon to my tea. mmm mmm good.
Patricia, I get the used tea out of the infuser with my finger or a narrow spatula. Then I rinse with water. And yes, some of the tea leaves get down the drain, but hopefully the little “basket” at the drain entrance catches most.
Sometimes, if I having a cup of tea almost immediately after the other, I’ll just add another teaspoon to what is already in the infuser — rather than have to clean the basket.
Don, straining with a coffee filter sounds like a good idea. And the lemon sounds delicious.
PS: Smith wrote #16 in June 2016, sooo I was wrong about his death. I had read that the tv series was discontinued due to his death. Maybe a screenwriter had died but I can’t locate his name. Sorry.
Thanks for the correction Marsha!
Oh, Theresa! What a timely article. It has been a long time since I have used a tea kettle, and I have been thinking about buying a new one. The old ones we have around here are now serving as humidifiers on our wood stove in the winter. I don’t wash them anymore, just rinse them occasionally. They accumulate a lot of mineral buildup.
I have only read the first book in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency. I did enjoy it, but never moved on through the series. I think I was drinking rooibos before I ever read the book. I order it in bulk and have always used a small strainer to get the leaves out of the brew. All that said, I will confess that I am a coffee addict. Yes, I know that rooibos would be better for me. Your article may make a convert out of me ….. You make tea sound so good!
It would be even better Pat, if you could come over and have a cup with me and walk the garden and borders!
Thank you for the wonderful post. It made me smile as it made me recall many things about my childhood. I’m a coffee drinker myself. As a girl, I would go next door to Gramma’s house and she would make me “coffee” which was really milk with a teaspoon of brewed coffee and sugar and we would sit together at her kitchen table and have coffee. I have been a coffee girl ever since.
I find I can’t drink coffee late in the afternoon or it will keep me up at night. As I get older, sipping something nice and warm in the evenings really helps me wind down and get a good night’s sleep but of course I need to stay away from caffeine.
With winter coming on, in the evenings, I so enjoy bundling up and looking thru my gardening books and catalogs and reading about seeds and plants and sipping on spiced herbal tea. Thank you for the tip on Red Bush tea and the tip on the stinging nettle tea. I have been wanting to get different kinds of decaffeinated teas and now I can add two more to my list.
Marsha’s post has really got me thinking about starting my own little tea garden. And, I think I have just the right spot in the back yard.
Thanks so much for sharing your time, your experience and life wisdom.
Thank YOU Rachel for sharing so beautifully! What a wonderful childhood memory of your Gramma and your “coffee”. No wonder you’re a coffee girl!
Do add dandelion tea as well to your list to try. It’s an excellent tea. Very robust, but delicious.
I think Marsha’s post has a lot of us thinking about raising some tea!
Not long ago, a new reader asked me what I meant by “iron sharpens iron”. Well — Marsha’s comment about growing her teas is the perfect example. We are all encouraged by each other. And that makes life so much nicer, more fun, and sometimes a bit easier.
Some folks don’t come back to a post to read comments. I think they miss half of the benefit of TMG that way. Comments add SO MUCH to the post!
Thanks for taking time to share Rachel. I think you put some smiles on faces this morning.
Theresa, thanks so much for sharing. I’ve tried to be a “tea person” for years & NEVER found a tea I loved (or really liked).
I even collected pretty ceramic tea pots. The closest I’ve come to enjoying it is with a Lipton teabag & a touch of fresh lemon juice.
I’m so excited about having a beautiful teapot sitting on my flat surface stove & can’t wait to try the Rooibos Tea!
I’ve been quite ill with sinus infections/asthma attacks & craved a nice cup of hot tea to warm my body, without caffine, at night. I researched online & found a homemade fresh ginger tea that wasn’t bad with lemon & a touch of raw honey. I’m going to try my hand at growing fresh ginger for my tea. Now I may enjoy a new tea with health benefits.
A tea garden…hmmm..Iron does sharpen iron!