A good cuppa (tea), possible in the states?

In this thread Candyman74 says

bolding mine.

I have to think that this can’t possibly be true. I live in a world where I can get coffee beans overnighted to me from my favorite coffee roaster in California so that I can still have fresh roasted coffee from them even though I live on the East Coast, but I can’t get good quality Tea like they serve in the UK?

So tell me, how do I get myself a good cuppa?

I can’t give you specific references for the US, but in Canada there are many specialty tea shops where you can get excellent quality teas. My personal favorite is David’s Tea

Go to Chinatown?

Seriously, ‘good’ is a relative term. My guess is that Candyman has a particular taste and isn’t open to trying different teas. There is a wide variety of tea out there. Some good, some less so, but to say that the entire United States is devoid of good tea is remarkably insular.

But Chinatown is as good a place to start as any; unless you are a milk and sugar type. If you are, then I can’t help you. Wait - I think crysthanamum tea is normally served with rock sugar (but I’m not sure).

You cannot get a good cup of tea in the US, that is true. The reasons for this paucity of tea are largely conceptual, and can already be seen in this thread - a misapprehension of what ‘quality’ means in terms of an Englishman’s tea drinking. You think ‘good’ means coffee beans overnighted across 3000 miles, or a refined, speciality drink sipped through thin lips in a sanctuary.

It is the opposite - good tea is not a luxury, nor rarefied or hard to come by. On the contrary, a good cup of tea is the lingua franca of British society, widely available to any and all. Most US supermarkets sell shit tea, and most speciality tea shops are purveyors of nonsense. Lacking the middle ground, it is very hard to get a decent cuppa in the US.

Any decent sized city is going to have many tea retailers. Hell, my small city has a dozen of them, including a Tajikistani teahouse.

All of them carry a huge variety of looseleaf teas. It is true that most U.S. restaurants will serve you hot water and a Lipton teabag if you order tea, and you may not have any choices if you’re in Scottsbluff or Hooterville, WV, but again, if you want to make yourself a great cuppa, you are perfectly able to in the U.S.

I thought I didn’t like tea until I visited friends in England. After I returned the first time, I sought to duplicate the experience and now think I make a pretty decent cup of tea. I just wish I could get a decent cup of tea at a restaurant. No, a Lipton bag and a cup of lukewarm water will not cut it! It is as if I had asked for a cup of coffee and received a spoonful of Sanka and the same lukewarm water. It’s not that hard to brew tea.

Actually, NAF’s point about overnighting coffee is clearly apropos. Unless you are going to assert that the UK has started growing its own tea, then I think the fact that tea can be shipped from its point of origin in Asia to the UK means that that very same tea should be able to make the trip to the USA.

Frankly, I think it is a matter of taste. Asserting that ones own taste reflects quality while others have lesser taste is nothing but self-serving snobbery. Lipton isn’t my taste, but for many it is fine. Who am I to tell someone else what he should and should not like? (Though I do think Lipton tea would benefit from not grinding the leaves into dust).

No, he pretty much admitted he just didn’t know where to look. He’s staying in hotels that stock Lipton tea bags. It’s true that American hotels and restaurants don’t have good tea (here meaning good hot black teas) unless they’re high-end or have a manager who knows tea and has made a point of it. I don’t get hot tea in hotels and restaurants here either, excepting Chinese-style. But even mid-range grocery stores in mid-size cities usually carry decent loose teas nowadays. You don’t even need to go to a specialty shop. I’d think that the best bet for a discerning non-wealthy traveler would be to carry a small strainer and a supply of the preferred variety, and ask for hot water. I think the milk may be a bigger problem; there’s excellent milk to be had in the States as well, but it may be harder to find than the tea, and certainly harder to carry around.

You can get a good cup, you just have to know exactly where to look, and not every place you’ll visit will have a place that provides it.

Asking for hot water at any old place won’t do it; the water provided won’t be nearly hot enough.

This article by Christopher Hitchens is entertaining and educational. I follow his tea-making advice and now have lovely tea regularly.

Hows about we settle on this: Wow, it’s really difficult to find a place in the US that serves a good, English style cup of tea. The kind of tea that is readily available in the UK (and some other places) is really only found in specialty shops and cafes in the US.

I assume this means you get your lose tea (high quality, of course), your strainer, your pots of hot and cold water, your milk or cream and lemon. The whole shebang.

Fact is, we’re a country that fawns over coffee, not tea. The trend here for tea in the last 10 years or so is Chai (Indian style tea). And don’t get me started on the people who ask for “chai tea”…

If you’re ever on the west coast, I recommend Peet’s Coffee and Tea shops. You can (at least in some of them) get an actual pot with loose tea and a built-in strainer, and they have several different types of milk (skim, whole, half and half, and soy) and different kinds of sweeteners. They have a lot of excellent house blends; my favorite is the Russian Caravan. If the particular one you go to doesn’t do pots, at least they will use loose tea in one of these T Sacs.

forgot to mention that you can, of course, buy loose tea in bulk to take home. And their water is plenty hot, when they make it for you.

And, he’s dead right about the fact that most Americans just do not get the idea of good tea.

My Mom, who is English, imports her tea from Canada whenever she can. Only place local she can get the good stuff.

A “good cup of tea” in British English translates to strongly brewed lowish quality tea with plenty of milk and a bit of sugar. Colloquially known as Builder’s Tea. I’m not a true Englishman because I like high quality tea with no milk or sugar.

Yeah, the water that hits the tea really has to be just below actually boiling.

Wouldn’t the tea sit in the bottom of the pot and stew?

I brew my tea and pour it through a strainer into a vacuum carafe. Doesn’t stew, stays hot and delicious.

Forgot to add, I buy my tea at the Indian markets on Devon. Good English tea, dirt cheap.

You can make one yourself.

A British friend of mine came to visit us here for a few weeks last summer, and Builder’s Tea is definitely his preference. He had no complaint with the standard-variety teabags that we buy at the grocery store. His main issue was the fact that at the time we only had an old-school stovetop kettle that took forever to get to a boil. (I’ve since upgraded to an electric kettle, though not while he was here, alas.)

His biggest problem, though, was getting a good cup of tea in restaurants, mostly because a lot of places think that serving you a lukewarm cup of water and a teabag constitutes “hot tea.” It is near-impossible in some places to get them to actually boil the water.

The sort of restaurant that provides endless refills of hot coffee is often willing to provide a pot of just-boiled water too–a coffee pot without the coffee–if you ask clearly and kindly. (Tip well, you cheap Euro-bastards. This is the service you’re paying for.)

Other than specialty shops, you can’t get a good cup of tea in an US restaurant. And others have pointed out, you usually get lukewarm water with Lipton (though other brands like Stash do show up).

You can get good tea and brew it yourself. Our local supermarket has PG Tips and Typhoo, two of the UK’s top three brands. There is also Bigelow, Barry’s, Taylor’s of Harrowgate, and Twinings. It’s much easier to get good tea in a supermarket now than it was five years ago.

Don’t hotel rooms in the US have a kettle in them?