Why I Use a Tea Timer

Editing a timer

I have physical tea timers, timers on my phone, timers on my iPad. I’m never without a tea timer.

I’m not a tea snob, but — oh, who am I fooling? Of course I’m a tea snob. But that’s only because my favorite tea is objectively and fundamentally better than your favorite tea. And my favorite sports team could absolutely kick the snot out of your favorite sports team. But I digress…

I drink tea all day at work. Of course. “Work” is a tea bar and bookstore. I can’t read books all day, but I most certainly can (and do) drink tea. Whether I’m having my favorite tea or experimenting with something new, I time my brew. I do the same at home, in hotel rooms, and — quite discretely — in restaurants.

Why do I do this? Because my OCD requires me to prepare each tea precisely the same or I won’t enjoy it? Of course not! And, by the way, the acronym should be CDO, so it’s in alphabetical order. But I digress again…

If I don’t use a timer, there are two different ways I end up brewing my tea:

The impatient understeep

The tea is ready, right? That color looks about right. Man, that smells delicious. It must be ready by now. It feels like it’s been steeping all afternoon. That’s it. I can’t wait any longer. I’m drinking it now.

Hmmm. I wonder why this tea tastes so mild and watery?

The distracted oversteep

I have a couple more minutes until this tea is ready. I’ll run over and put that tin away. Why did nobody wash this infuser? I’d better put some more water on to boil. Oops, the phone is ringing. I’d better answer it.

(20 minutes later) Oh, my tea is probably ready. I wonder it’s so bitter and nasty?


By using a timer, I avoid both of these problems.

By timing tea for customers, I also assure that they get a consistent cup of tea every time they visit. In that case, being diligent about the amount of leaf, amount of water, steep time, and any other variables I can control means that our tea is shown off well, which encourages people to buy loose tea.

If you’re looking for a tea timer, by the way, take a peek at the list of tea timers & apps on William Lengeman’s “Tea Guy Speaks” blog.

About Gary D. Robson

Gary Robson: Author, nonprofit communications consultant, and tea shop owner. I've written books and articles on many different subjects, but everyone knows me for my "Who Pooped in the Park?" books.

Posted on 11 June 2013, in Tea Thoughts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. When I was steeping a pu-erh the other day, I was counting out loud. Much to the horror of those in earshot.

    • Depending on the pu-erh, at least you wouldn’t have to count very high. If you are going to count out loud, have some fun with it. I can only count to five in Japanese, so I’ll start in Japanese, switch to Spanish at six, and switch to French at 20.

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