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Twinings Earl Grey K-Cups (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Twinings Earl Grey K-Cups (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

The K-Cup Revolution is here, tea drinkers. Just as teabags forever altered the approach by tea lovers here in the U.S. and in many other countries to fixing a quick cuppa or even a potful, the K-Cup will change our approach once again. “How?” you ask. Good question.

In the beginning was the leaf, and the leaf was good. It fell into a pot of hot water and the rest, as they say, is history (or maybe just a nice myth). Tea became so popular that it was traded far and wide. The processed tea was packed as carefully as the tea producers could manage at the time, but hey, spoilage happens. When the tea reached Europe after weeks on the high seas or months traveling the overland trade routes, it wasn’t in the freshest condition. In fact, one story has it that black tea came about as a way to keep the tea for longer periods of time so that it would still be bearable when it reached those far off tea drinkers.

Those tea drinkers would heat the water, warm the teapot with a little of it, add some loose tea leaves, fill the teapot with more hot water, and let it steep. The tea would then be poured through a strainer into teacups. Alas, any liquid remaining in the pot with the leaves would continue to steep, getting a tad overdone. Sigh!

Enter the teabag. You can prepare one cup at a time or a whole pot of tea. And then you can remove the teabag so that the steeping stops. True convenience. Of course, the tea taste was not quite what it was when steeping the loose leaves, but it was neater, right?

Now we have the K-Cup and a big machine that sits on the counter and steeps a cuppa at the push of a button. What’s not to like?

Well, those little cups ain’t cheap. That’s one of the big issues with them. Someone did a comparison between the cost of the tea in K-Cups (usually sold in boxes of 12 or 24) versus the cost of buying that same amount of tea in a loose pouch. Much more expensive in the K-Cup. But you are buying convenience. What is your extra time worth to steep up a fresh pot of tea using loose leaf versus using a K-Cup? But then you have to clean the Keurig machine, so the time needed may be even here, except that you have to wash the teapot, strainer, etc., too. Sigh! It’s a trade-off: convenience or lower out-of-pocket expense and more of your time spent. That’s a strictly personal decision.

Awhile ago hubby and I tried a K-Cup. Our bank offers coffee, tea, and cookies to anyone who takes the time actually to come in to the bank versus banking online. Not having a Keurig machine, we cut open the K-Cup and dumped the loose tea into the pot to steep. The tea was okay but not what we usually like. So we picked up another one from the bank (with their permission) — this time Earl Grey tea. It was okay, too, but not as good as some other Earl Grey versions we’ve had. Of course, we don’t know what the tea tastes like when steeped using that Keurig machine. Time to head back to the bank to find out. Well, maybe not.

One person commented on the waste of the K-Cups. Quite. When hubby and I cut open that test cup, it was mostly cup and little tea. More waste than in a teabag and certainly more than when one steeps tea loose in the pot. As one with a true pioneer spirit where every bit and piece was put to good use, I would say this is quite wasteful unless you save up the empty cups and use them somehow. Not very practical, though.

If you prefer an herbal infusion, coffee, or even hot cocoa, there are K-Cups for those, too. In fact, the list of teas and other beverages available keeps growing, offered under major brand names such as Twinings, Bigelow, and Celestial Seasonings.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Twinings English Breakfast K-Cups. Have you tried them yet? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Twinings English Breakfast K-Cups. Have you tried them yet? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

One of the things I’ve learned over the course of many years of drinking, studying, and writing about tea is that everyone likes what they like and there really is no one correct way to do things. Of course, there are certain useful guidelines to follow if you want the best cup of tea – such as don’t oversteep or overheat your tea – but, when it comes to the mechanics of making tea, there are many ways to get the job done. A gongfu fancier might cringe at my practice of heating water in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave and steeping in a gravity-type infuser but it works well for me.

Having put in my plug for all of this goodness, light, and tolerance, I’m now going to respectfully say that I don’t think K-Cup tea will be on my menu anytime soon. That’s okay and neither will Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong, or milk, lemon, and sugar, now that you mention it. That’s just a matter of personal preference. Of course, I haven’t actually tried a K-Cup of tea yet and so maybe I’m going off half-cocked but I can see a few reasons why I’ll stick with my current process.

If you’re like me and you haven’t really kept tabs on the K-Cup it might help to know that it’s a technology developed by Massachusetts-based company Keurig in 1998. At their Web site the company claims that “we’re the leading single cup brewing system in North America.”

Something else you’ll see at the site is that a fair amount of the content seems to be rather coffee-centric, although you can check out some of the other products here and here, including tea, hot chocolate, and more. Which would be my primary reason for not becoming a K-Cup drinker. Like many other American tea drinkers, I’ve pretty much grown accustomed to the fact that tea is something of a poor cousin to coffee, and I’d be fine with that if there was a wide selection of the teas I wanted to drink in K-Cup form. Given that I like to try as many premium single-estate teas – especially black and green – as I can get my hands on, I don’t see that happening.

The other major issue for me would be the gadget factor. I’ve tried a number of high-falutin’ tea gadgets so far, some so “automatic” that they do almost everything but pour the tea in your mouth, and I liked some of them quite a bit. But for me, the so-called convenience of using such gadgets doesn’t really do much for me, and I typically revert back to the tried and true method that I mentioned above.

Which works quite nicely for me but it might not for you. Maybe you’ll find K-Cup tea to be the greatest thing since sliced bread or the wheel. Which is great, and to you I’ll simply say “bottoms up.”

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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