Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Coffee & Tea

Posted by JonDerry, May 25, 2015.

Not much wine talk this weekend, so sharing a few thoughts on the subject.

A friend of mine recently said "there's only two days in a year I don't drink coffee", and I've also noticed that I'm pretty much drinking a cup every morning, sometimes iced tea with lunch. For a little while, I even got in to ordering a french press while out for breakfast or at one of the popular shops, i.e. peete's, starbucks, etc. 

Anyhow, this morning I wasn't feeling so great so went through the cupboard in search of some tea. Most of what we have on hand is Chamomile, caffeine free, so I looked for some standard tea and as luck would have it found a couple Earl Grey samples we happened upon somewhere last week. I was surprised by the dark color of this one, didn't even steep it much either. Added some milk and honey, and it's drinking fine, but as it's a breakfast blend, it's not nearly as strong as the color would have indicated. Still, this is better than coffee today.

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Reply by EMark, May 25, 2015.

I don't know what it is about this, but, for some reason or other, it is a great story, Jon.  Great post.

I, personally, have coffee every morning, usually with a bagel, at It's a Grind.  I like It's a Grind because it is not nearly as popular as the Starbuck's across the street.  So, I can sit at the table for hours if I want, read the paper, work some puzzles and chat with coffee shop friends.  As often as not Paul, the owner, will come in and comp me a refill.

Mrs. EMark does not like coffee.  So, I rarely make it at home.  Coincidentally, though, we did have guests over, last night, and I did use the Keurig to make a couple of cups.

I should mention that I am completely indiscriminant when it comes to coffee.  Hot and black are my only two requirements.

I like ice tea, but I cannot remember the last time I had a hot tea.  Mrs. EMark, pretty much, mainlines ice tea.  She uses the Keurig to a fill a measuring cup of hot water, puts in some teabags and, then, fills her big insulated plastic drinking cup with ice and pours the hot tea over it.

Reply by vin0vin0, May 25, 2015.

Call me crazy but I have never developed a taste for coffee. Every morning I start my day off with a large cup of hot English Breakfast tea with a tsp of sugar. I also have no desire to drink any other kind of tea, especially anything with spice, fruit or floral additions. As with wine, everyone's palate is different - that's why they make so many different flavors. One other thing - I live in the South, iced tea is more prevalent than water though I rarely make my own.

Reply by JonDerry, May 25, 2015.

Thanks Mark, glad that you could appreciate some idle thoughts this morning. Was definitely in one of those thoughtful, detached moods. Hoping for better tomorrow...

Reply by dmcker, May 25, 2015.

Had a conversation some time ago with GregT about teas. I'm as much a connoisseur of them and coffee as I am about wine, and these days drink a lot more of them than of wine.

Let's be frank. Starbuck's and Tully's blow. Not so much 25+ years ago as now. They're the McDonald's of coffee these days. Peet's is a little better, but that's all. One thing i seriously miss about the States is good breakfast places, since Japan (and many other Asian countries) has never properly gotten into that. Don't need French Press, at all, good drip can be good. At home I do filter, and occasionally espresso. Mark, your place sounds like something that would be worth trying, even if I normally tend away from franchise operations.

Back when I was working crazily (during '87, '88 and '89 I slept an average of three hours a night) I was drinking seven or eight cups of double (or triple) espresso a day, as I was setting up my first company and getting it rolling. That was, to put it mildly, not healthy and I got sick. Stopped coffee completely for awhile and went on a full Japanese diet with a variety of green teas (but not Ma-cha, the powdered tea-ceremony kickass version). And slept. Was groggy, lackluster for a little while with the dropoff from the caffeine withdrawal, but got over that relatively soon. Had always drunk tea (no coffee or tea for children in my home when I was growing up but by the end of highschool I was drinking some Lipton's tea bags for homework crunches, and iced tea during the daytime), and my travels introduced me to scores of new varieties. So after I recovered and started a new work routine I switched to black teas. My business trips often took me to London and every time I stopped at the Harrod's Food Floor for major black tea (and wine and port and madeira) purchases. Had dozens and dozens of those roundtop red tins in the house (different style tins now), with many multiple souchongs and keemuns and darjeelings and ceylon (still not calling it sri lanka in that marketplace) versions, as well as their morning and afternoon blends. Later when I was again traveling extensively through Asia I'd end up bringing home a dozen tea varieties from any country I spent any real time in.

Nowadays I have coffee in the morning when I know I have a big (office) work day. Coffee (at least the way I make it) always has a much stronger caffeine kick than tea, but I have that historical milestone to refer back to and tend to use it sparingly these days. Ordinarily English-style breakfast tea, and I'll have a half dozen cups of tea through the day which may be black or Japanese green (many varieties of this) or Chinese (some variety of oolong, jasmine or pu erh). Only time I drink coffee at night these days is an espresso after a large Italian (or maybe French) meal, with some grappa or brandy, too. The tea is refreshing, goes down well during or after any kind of meal, keeps me focused, and supposedly is healthy, to boot. All good!  ;-)

In another context, I tend to prefer coffee on hangover days (which I've fortunately become more adept at avoiding as I've gotten older and at least a little wiser). All my English friends swear by black tea (and some of my Japanese by miso soup!) in this context but coffee works better for me. Black tea is fine when there's no coffee around.

As one aside, almost all teas require nothing in them, unless they're English style blackteas, in my book. No milk or sugar or lemon in Japanese or Chinese teas, please! Start drinking them plain and hot with the proper food match and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

And as another, leaf tea is lightyears ahead of teabags in fresh flavor, tastiness and overall enjoyability. You can use that French Press with tea leaves instead of coffee grinds, or more standard tea pots (or even those little tea balls you drop in your cup with enough leaves for only it when that's all you're brewing, though I still use a teapot even for single cups). Once you start doing it that way it becomes easy, second nature. And a LOT more flavorful. Next problem is finding places to buy good leaf tea, since most markets still push the teabags.

BTW JD, you mentioned Earl Grey in your post, but your photo is of an English Breakfast teabag. If it's Earl Grey, purists demand you only add lemon, though frankly I sometimes put in milk, too. Somehow it settles better in my belly with milk in it.


Back when Snooth was getting off the ground and hadn't totally decided which way it was headed there was discussion about also including beer and spirits and even tea or coffee in its mix. One of its spinoffs started the spirits thing, though more cocktails than good brandies and whiskies, etc. Beer was avoided for whatever reason, and I doubt teas and coffee were ever really considered...


Reply by GregT, May 26, 2015.

Wow D - I can't believe you remember that covo. But thanks for the overview.

i grew up drinking tea, not very good tea, but tea over coffee. Then I started on coffee and one day had a horrible issue with it so swore off it for a few years. Then I figured out that it was just bad coffee and I took care to get better coffee. There was a fashion for drip coffee, then Starbucks and all the other places appeared and now there's a return to the same coffee I've been making for years - drip coffee as if it's some kind of new thing.

But I drink a lot more tea. Real tea, not leaves of various plants. Chamomile isn't tea - I grew it all over the back yard. It can be good, but tea is a specific plant. And it doesn't need flavorings, any more than coffee does. That's why I never really cared for Earl Grey.

Of course Dmucker is in tea central. Pretty cool.

Reply by outthere, May 26, 2015.

Coffee every morning or else.

On occasion I will brew a cup or two of this to sooth a scratchy throat but otherwise tea does nothing for me.

Reply by dmcker, May 26, 2015.

Black tea with honey and lemon works well on throats, too (know a few professional singers who use that). As does fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice...

Reply by dvogler, May 27, 2015.

I drink two cups of coffee (I grind the beans daily) every morning and then another at around ten am at work with my muffin or whatever.  I drink it black, no sugar.  The exception is when I've had too much wine and in the morning am not so will sent me straight to my knees.  My wife loves to torment me when she knows I'm hungover and starts grinding coffee.  I drink a cup of green tea every night.  I think it's a ritual really.  I get what OT says about tea not doing much for him.  I was always that way, but whenever someone says they have tea made and offers me a cup, I usually enjoy it! 

Reply by JonDerry, May 27, 2015.

Thanks for the thoughts all. Have seemed to notice tea leaves tasting better, which is to say when I used to eat chinese food out with my folks and we'd always have some of that sort of tea at the end.

Most people doing cake and tea between lunch and dinner in Japan? I remember hearing that recently.

Still not feeling well, so ordered english breakfast tea with breakfast. Definitely some more to this, flavor, tannins, gently bitter, etc. I threw in a splash of half and half that was regrettable, along with too much lemon, and honey. They gave me a pot, so I figured out how to mix it all after a while.

Reply by dmcker, May 27, 2015.

It's either milk or lemon. Never both. Unless you want to let it sit for awhile and see if the curdling results in a weak yoghurt.  ;-(  And milk works a lot better than cream (or half and half) with blacktea, while half and half is my preference for coffee, when I have it. They don't sell it in Japan.

Yeah, people go for a pick me up around 3 or a little later in Japan (even have a name for it, 'o-sanji'). Usually tea and a sweet in an office environment, though can be fruit or other things with some protein when at home or out. Earlier than an English tea time, which tends to be more substantial. Japanese diets traditionally were higher in carbs, so more frequent fuelings were needed.

Hope you're feeling better.

Reply by madmanny, May 29, 2015.

I'm a coffee junkie.  If I don't get my fix by 10:30-11, it's an instant headache that can last 1/2 a day.  I used to buy Starbucks beans and make my own.  One day in Seattle, I discovered Torre Fazzioni (sp?).  I found their roasts to give a richer flavor than Starbucks,  (At some point, Starbucks acquired them and I don't know if they're still around.)   About 10 years ago, my wife bought me a coffee roaster and a variety of green beans from Sweet Maria's in Oakland, CA.  What a revelation,  Great to experiment with different beans, roasting times and temperatures.  Importantly, the roast is always fresh.  

Teddy Roosevelt said that the first cup in the day is always the best, so make it a big one.  Mine is a 24 ouncer.  Gotta get back to my mug.

Reply by pastekafd, May 30, 2015.

A friend of mine recently said "there's only two days in a year I don't drink coffee". Did the friend say which two days and why?

Reply by JonDerry, May 30, 2015.

Ha! Good question and a fun one for your first post. I'll have to ask him but I think I knew what he meant...just didn't happen for whatever reason, be it travel or a hectic day that started without a cup.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 4, 2015.

Can't believe I missed this thread.  I think of life as a series of nested cycles--living, then returning to the earth, your molecules absorbed into other living things as the biggest cycle, moving down through the regenerative seasons of the year, through to the dying seasons, and back to the regenerative...

And down there on the daily scale is the cycle of waking up and putting the match to the flame, and at the end of the day bringing that fire down in a taper.  Or, in my case, a roaring cup or two and a half of strong black coffee in the morning, and a shared bottle or so of wine with my wife at night.  I'm on an endless cycle of stimulants and depressants, at least in those beverages, and it just seems part and parcel of the way the Universe is supposed to work.  Even my Mormon ancestors drank coffee (it wasn't specifically prohibited) and drank alcohol. The water wasn't exactly safe to drink in SLC, but ferment something and you could feel pretty confident.

Coincidentally, I'm storing wine near Sweet Maria's, and the owner of the storage facility is a big fan of self-roasting.  It's very fashionable right now--people use popcorn poppers (air poppers) or buy little boutique roasters.  I scoff, since I roasted green beans in Nicaragua in Winter of '87-'88 in a cast iron skillet over a wood fire, but can't be much bothered right now.  (We also picked beans.  We should all pay more for people to do that hard and dirty work, take it from me.) Starbuck's has been dreck since anyone can remember because they need volume, not quality.  Peet's roasts at too high a temperature so it tastes burned.  Haven't splurged on Graffeo in a while, but it seems to have maintained its greatness.  Mostly we buy from a company that does private label roasting and sells at the discounter or we buy small quantities from various places like Blue Bottle, Stumptown in Portland, or anywhere that we get the urge, but we buy and use so much that the private label stuff through the discounter saves us a ton.  I know what D went through when he overconsumed since I had an incident years ago when I had a 10 cup a day habit, but I've never completely given it up.  No one would tolerate me if I did.  My kids have threatened to buy me a shirt that says, "I drink coffee for your protection." My default is the drip pot (insulated carafe, and I've damn near ruined it in just a couple groggy years).  But we have a small espresso machine that is stuffed in a cabinet, a press pot, and a bunch of other drippers buried here and there.  When the wife travels, the press pot often comes out because it's better for small quantities. 

But I'm surprised no one talked about the parallels between tea and wine.  I know a couple people--the owner of Samovar tea lounge in SF, and a rep at a tea company who used to work for Ohio's wine board--who compare them pretty convincingly.  Both are made from one plant (grapes, the tea tree), from one part of that plant, and reflect their soil and climate conditions in the final product.  Both are ancient plants with lots of variations and long histories in trade.  Both have to balance flavors and tannins.  Both can be finicky about where they grow.  Both were spread as products outside their native areas by, predominantly, the Brits and were the subject of much Brit trade.  (I don't think the Brits went to war for wine--they just changed their habits from Bordeaux to Rioja or sherry or whatever.)

I believe all they say about tea, but as an American, the violent and quick effects of coffee seem more appropriate to my morning than the finesse and delicacy of tea. 

Reply by dmcker, Jun 4, 2015.

This morning is the start of a busy day so I ground some medium-to-very-mildly-darker-roasted Kilimanjaro beans from Kenya (Tanzanian also can be good, Ethiopian different variety--love the acidity of these but especially with the full body and complexity such as also comes from a Sumatran Mandheling). Filter, as usual, including the ritual of prerinsing the paper to remove the paper dust. At one point I was using a cloth filter somewhere between canvas and muslin, but its care became too problematic so I'm back to paper. Just like how the 2nd child got paper diapers, not woolen.  ;-)

Earlier this week was mostly Sri Lankan tea (Ruhuna district in the morning, Uva or Nuwara in the afternoon), with Uji and Shizuoka district Japanese green teas (several varieties) in the mix when I was eating Japanese. Have been on a Ceylon kick recently, though have historically consumed far more tea from northern and northeastern India, Sikkim and even Nepal. Thinking on it, no Chinese tea this week, which is relatively unusual, but also no Chinese food which is one reason (though a number of Chinese teas work just fine with Indian, Thai and other cuisines, and I've had a fair amount of Indian, Thai and Nepalese this week). In the past I've also drunk plenty of Ceylon tea from Dimbula and Kandy, but currently don't have any in the house.

My first post mentioned my attention to the varieties and delicacies of tea (and even coffee, for I tend to drink several dozen varieties from at least a couple dozen countries--am lamenting the current unavailability of Panama and Guatemala parchment to me). But your post did hammer home all the parallels between tea and wine and the parallel growth in trade and marketbuilding between the two, Fox. I'm all for further discussion here in much greater detail, if the interest is there! 

Used to have easy access to a great shop nearby my digs (3 minutes even when scuffling) a dozen years ago, but it's a bit of a schlep from where I live now. The kind of place where they'd have three dozen bags from all over open, and would roast to your liking when you made your purchase. And serve a cup to you while you waited (though I usually went grocery shopping and returned to pick up the roasted beans). Because of that unfortunate schlep I now tend to buy too often from a nearby gourmet foods shop which has some variety pre-bagged and pre-roasted. Not the same...


Ruhuna tea plantation. Southwestern Sri Lanka, lower elevations (just above sealevel to a couple thousand feet), stronger tea, blacker color, better for me in the morning with its stronger caffeine impression. Takes milk well. Industry built up here most recently with more modernly tweaked processes, pretty much from the early-mid 20th century.


Uva tea plantation.  Eastern slope of central Sri Lankan mountains at higher elevations (3~5000+ft). Historically put Ceylon tea on the map. Floral, sharp, deeper golden color. Distinctive earth that can also sometimes give it a tanginess. Can take milk. Afternoon tea for me.


Nuwara tea plantation.  Highest elevation (above 6000ft), on slopes in central part of central mountains. Cypress, mint, eucalyptus, seemingly menthol but to a very delicate degree. Lighter color (tend to want to call it the Darjeeling of Sri Lanka, though earlier marketeers tried to label it the 'champagne' of teas). Finest Ceylon tea in my book. Definitely no milk.



Kilimanjaro coffee plantation. I like the Kenyan versions better than the Tanzanian, since they tend to round out with more body to balance the acidity, though both are good. Look for S28 cultivar when it's available. Arabica.

Reply by napagirl68, Jun 4, 2015.

Nice thread!

Although I do love my morning coffee, I love tea as well.  My all time fav is Earl Grey, and I also occasionally take it with a bit of milk too, Dmcker.  I do not like the spice blends, and am actually allergic to rose hips, so have to watch out for those. 

JD, if not feeling well, pure ginger tea is a good choice.  I drink a lot of it, especially after a massage, as it is somewhat anti-inflammatory.   Peppermint tea (just the peppermint leaves, nothing else) is another favorite here for iced tea in the summer.  Although I would prolly prefer black tea, peppermint, being totally herbal with no caffeine, is something my young daughter can drink as well.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 4, 2015.

NG, that's one of my lemonade (or even energy drink) alternatives. Grated and pressed fresh ginger juice, honey and a little of a good vinegar diluted in a liter or two of water and refrigerated. Very refreshing after hot-weather exertion...

Reply by laverve, Jun 4, 2015.

I usually drink brewed coffee every morning then small cup of tea after lunch and dinner. Tea is better than coffee as my most friends said to me because, it has less caffeine than coffee.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 5, 2015.

Less caffeine is better?  I guess it depends what you are going for.

Reply by duncan 906, Jun 16, 2015.

I just hate Earl  Grey because to me it tastes like some girl has emptied her perfume bottle into the teacup. is named after a famous political dynasty who between them did a great deal of good in this world.

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