tea when you travel

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wave_code
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Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2018 2:10 pm
Location: Vienna

Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:04 am

So when you are a picky tea obsessive and you travel... what do you do?

Finding myself with a lot of upcoming trips has had me thinking about this... I haven't had to travel around so much the last few years, and prior to that I hadn't completely gone off coffee and could give up tea for a few days if good coffee was around. Now that I don't drink coffee going without tea is out of the question as I can't really get moving without my morning shou. But with more upcoming trips including some very long ones (2 months, not continuously in one location) away from my gong fu set-up has me thinking what is the best way to go? Get a sturdy portable infuser mug? Get a lidded clay mug and go grandpa style? Leaves in a bowl? Stovetop boil? Get paper filters or some other type of strainer? Find a higher grade bagged tea you like? If you bring tea with you do you tend to bring one versatile forgiving tea, or a various teas?

Going for a couple days here or there drinking bagged tea is fine for me, in fact I find drinking a cup of Twinings more palatable than I ever found crappy coffee. Camping this summer I found that a travel mug with the lid partially closed made a decent enough "gaiwan" for good old Sea Dyke TGY.

Personally I find most portable gong-fu set ups seem like too much to me - too much luggage space, seems too delicate... also I'm not going to bring and drink my highest grade teas on the road when there probably isn't time for long sessions, one can't be picky about where your water comes from (most likely only boiled tap from wherever you are...), so on. I mostly drink shou and liu bao, and even having to deal with rinsing depending on the situation at hand can be out of the question. When you find yourself somewhere with lots of free time, its a shame not to have something on hand a bit more enjoyable than fannings, but perhaps letting the location and what is available shape what is enjoyable at the moment is important.
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debunix
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Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:56 am

I have several levels of 'travel tea' setups, evolved over time.

The simplest is some way to boil water (a simple electric kettle that is light and one-unit for travel sturdiness), and a bottle: I bring along some light-roast/green oolong, that does well with cool brewing. With this minimum kit I can have a grandpa-style hot tea session in a mug or the lid of my thermos to start the day, and drop some dry tea in the bottom of the bottle or thermos, pour over some boiling water, wait five minutes, and fill with lukewarm or cool water (depending on the weather) and that gives me several hours of cool-brewed oolong, and can be refilled in a pinch.

For airplane flights, I use just enough hot water at the start to wet the leaves but not pool in the bottom of the bottle, get through security with wet leaves but no loose water in the bottle, and add water from a drinking fountain after I pass through.

More elaborate setups might include a kamjove infuser, the big stanley thermos, a mellow deep roast oolong or shou puerh that I know work well in the thermos. The thermos has the advantage of 'straining' smaller/broken leaf and holding heat well when started with boiling water; since you pour out into the lid to drink, the boiling water is not too hot; liquid that is too hot burns the tongue when used in a bottle that you drink directly from.

My simplest/lightest kettle is (horrors) plastic, as is my sturdy kamjove device (all those I see sold now feature glass, because people are afraid of plastic); but for travel, I don't have to worry not only that glass will be broken in transit, leaving me without their use when I arrive, but also I don't have to worry about shattered glass in my luggage and clothes.

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For road trips, including my regular satellite office visits, I have a more elaborate setup with a bonavita kettle, and a travel teaware kit that I wrap up in a kit from Studio Edgar which easily holds and protects a small ceramic teapot, one cup, and a little pitcher. I bring half a dozen different teas on these trips.
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Rickpatbrown
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Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:13 pm

I just take a gaiwan and leaves and figure out everthing else on the fly. If driving, I can take more things, like a kettle, cha hai etc.

Airbnb is great compared to hotels, since they often have a stove and at least a pot. How to boil water is usually the toughest part to figure out.
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Elise
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Wed Feb 27, 2019 3:22 pm

I also carry a simple gaiwan and tea leaves. I often take a Thermos bottle that I can fill with boiling water when possible and take with me for a few hours.
mrmopu
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Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:47 pm

Thanks you all for the insight. I am traveling to Santa Clara/San Fran area next week and needed some pointers. Any of in that area March 8th or 9th? Love to meet some tea friends on the west coast.
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hopeofdawn
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:55 am

My travel tea set consists of a one-cup electric kettle, a vacuum tea thermos with a removable brew basket, and a packet or two of teas I know are easy brewers. To save on space, I can tuck the tea right inside the kettle, and the kettle nestles into a corner of my luggage/travel bag. It works pretty well for hotels/Airbnbs--I learned early on that no matter how desperate you are, you do NOT want to use the coffee maker in the room to heat water for tea. That coffee smell permeates everything!

In airports and the like, I mostly get a pastry or something from a coffee shop and ask them to fill my tea thermos with hot water.
.m.
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:47 am

I usually bring just a cup and some tea with me. Put the leaves into a glass jar that i get at the location (i usually buy a glass-bottled juice) and pour hot water in for one long steep. Add more water if it gets too strong. Some teas work better like that than other.
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Bok
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:34 am

I bring a small teapot and three gongfu sized cups in a sturdy travel case. Actually meant for a tea set just that i only kept the cups and chucked the easy brew device, which was too ugly to be used...
Noonie
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:00 pm

I generally buy green tea bags from MaikoTea. They taste good enough. I step twice. Very convenient! If I wanted a tea that was not available in a bag, I would either make my own tea bags with filters, or being a mug with infuser. Depends on the trip. For the Caribbean islands with the family, hauling gear would be a pain. But a drive to a rented cottage, gear for sure.
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Rickpatbrown
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:10 pm

Has anyone ever tried using an immersion heater? This just occured to me to be the ultimate in portability. Also looks like a good way to start a fire :lol:

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Chadrinkincat
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:26 pm

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:10 pm
Has anyone ever tried using an immersion heater? This just occured to me to be the ultimate in portability. Also looks like a good way to start a fire :lol:

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Prison style gong fu
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debunix
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:51 pm

I've used an immersion heater, but that required traveling with a glass or ceramic mug, or a glass pitcher, and it was really no smaller/lighter than bringing this cheap, light and sturdy kettle. It has little to recommend it aside from those qualities, but they are useful on long flights.
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Rickpatbrown
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:53 pm

debunix wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:51 pm
I've used an immersion heater, but that required traveling with a glass or ceramic mug, or a glass pitcher, and it was really no smaller/lighter than bringing this cheap, light and sturdy kettle. It has little to recommend it aside from those qualities, but they are useful on long flights.
You figured out a way to make tea on a plane!!?? Please tell us! That would make flying so much more awesome.

I feel like it's pretty easy to find a mug, pitcher or glass bottle. I always take an electric kettle with me when I travel by car, but never when flying.

For 9$, I think I'll field test this immersion heater.
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Rickpatbrown
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:58 pm

Here's an even smaller kettle

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debunix
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:53 pm

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:53 pm
You figured out a way to make tea on a plane!!?? Please tell us!
Nothing as cool as that. But longer flights, for me, usually go along with more concern for weight and volume of luggage.....so I don't want to bring my regular kettle, that I do travel with on road trips.

For the actual flying part of the trip, my usual method to have tea with me is to put a bit of tea in a water bottle, hit the leaves with a tiny amount of boiling water, and head to the airport. I use just enough so that the leaves absorb the water but there's no enough to slosh in the bottle. After going through security, I add cold water from a drinking fountain or other tap to fill the bottle, and because I've already started hydrating the leaves an hour or two before, by the time I've been in the air a little while and want a drink, I have some tasty cool-brewed tea.
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