Sep 15, 2011

tea (and tea ware) away from home

What tea and tea ware to bring on a trip away from home? This is a question tea drinkers frequently ask themselves.

For me, here are a few considerations:
1. Whether or not to bring any - on some trips, especially backpacking trips, I don't bring any. Too lazy to put up with the chores and worries (of breaking tea ware). I've seen several online discussions about tea for camping trips. So far none of them has convinced me to bring tea to camping trips myself, partially because I am one of the clumsiest campers, and partially because I don't feel like to have any tea when there is no daily shower and the restroom has no roof.

2. On most trips that I do bring tea, I bring barely any tea ware. On most trips, I have to carry my own stuff, and I stay in very modest lodges. So again, too lazy to put up with the chores and worries. Besides, I want the amount I carry to be proportional to the time I will be able to spend with tea. On many trips there are a lot of things to see and to do, especially because I am the compulsive, running-around type of traveler. When we were traveling in Mexico, my partner could spend half a day sleeping in the hostel, and another half day drinking and singing with others on the porch. I was like, "No! I didn't spend $500 air fare and travel 1000 miles here to sleep in the hostel!" I ran around and visited places all day long, every day! So, there was not much time for tea. I knew it before the trip, and therefore would pack very little tea stuff for the trip. When I take with me minimum to none tea ware and very small amount of tea, I usually have teas that are easy to brew in cold water, as well as black and/or green teas that are sealed in home-made teabags. Although I say black and/or green, one oolong I've found very convenient is Oriental Beauty, as I tested it with mug brewing and found it wonderful brewed in this way. Oriental Beauty is my favorite aeroplane tea. It brews well even in the not so hot water provided on board. Its aroma makes people jealous! Besides, ever since more and more airline started charging people for food and beverage on board, I've enjoyed bringing with me nice snacks, fruits and teas that will make the airline offerings look totally miserable, haha!

3. If I am on a short trip and can stay in a decent place with boiling water supplies, I would usually bring my gaiwan travel set. This is partially because of the obvious convenience and versatility of gaiwan, and partially because the gaiwan travel set is usually quite cheap and easy to obtain. I would rather not take along any nice tea ware if I have to worry about them being accidentally broken.

4. If I am on a multiple-week trip and can stay in a decent place (such as the Toronto vacation I have from time to time, or the 1.5 months I spent in Boston in the past summer), I would bring a few more pieces of tea ware and quite a few different teas with a few "anchorage teas" and a bunch of sample size teas. When selecting which pieces of tea ware to bring, I will use following criteria:

a. It's relatively sturdy. I won't pack the most fragile into luggage and let them see the ups and downs of the "outside" world.

b. Each piece of tea ware should serve multiple functions for multiple teas. A lazy person always wants every moment of her labor worth it!

c. After packing in one small teapot and one large teacup for one-person session, if there is more space, I would manage to pack in a few small teacups. Most of the times I drink tea alone. But I want to be ready if some other people could join me in tea sessions. When there are more people, one teapot may do its job well, but multiple teacups are necessary.

What are your tea-on-the-road routines and tips?


Leaf Dharma said...

Sometimes I just use teabags, but depending on how heavy my backpack is I usually pack in loose leaf and my tea thermos.

Gingko said...

On road trips, when people see MEC gears, people would ask each other, "are you from Canada?" :-D

It seems we share common grounds on Marxism and Buddhism!

Unknown said...

That's my other blogger account. Sometimes I forget which account I'm signed into.

MEC is a dead giveaway of a Canadian.
However I did meet an American in India with a little Canadian Flag pin. He said it was safer to pose as a Canadian. ;)

Tom said...

I have one of these double walled tea thermoses:,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1920&bih=995&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=17948738902040614124&sa=X&ei=q51yTurZO4To0QGZ39CQCg&ved=0CFUQ8wIwAg

It works well as a brewing vessel at the campsite and as a cold steeping vessel, because it has a nice, snap-in metal filter on the top.

I usually bring a little satchel of various teas that aren't the best of the best. Usually some okay Wuyi, plantation pu'er, and some black tea (I really crave Keemun when I'm camping). I've found that room temperature steeping young sheng pu'er works really well, so that's my trick for when there's no access to good hot water. I can't drink coffee (sensitive stomach), so it's tea or nothing!

Marlena said...

I take my own water, a cheap teapot and a sampling of teas I really like, plus a strainer. But I usually stay in a hotel or with friends these days. When I was a camper, I didn't drink tea.

notesontea said...

I look for a good tea shop!

A Student Of Tea said...

A basket strainer that I keep in a tupper ware beaker with lid, which in turn fits nicely in a sturdy mug, along with a good thermos flask - they have been good companions for me on hikes, long car or train trips. (The beaker is for storing the strainer with the tea, so I can do multiple infusions along the trip.)
When staying in something with a kitchen, I also go for the gaiwan, and one or two cups. Anything else I will improvise from what I find.

I find I don't want to take the most delicate teas with me when away from home, but to see how different water will affect the tea is always interesting to me. And being forced to modify brewing vessels & technique can be great learning.