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Hop onto the tea app bandwagon

With guides, timers and encyclopedias, these apps help brew a perfect cup while expanding your knowledge of tea

If you are a tea lover, you might want to explore a brewing app. (Istockphoto)
If you are a tea lover, you might want to explore a brewing app. (Istockphoto)

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It’s the time of the year when I like to shop for journals and planners—until, that is, a friend reminded me that this was 2022 and we have an app for everything. Sure enough, there are also apps for tea, not quite a rabbit hole yet but enough to test and find one that suits you.

Also read | Keen to learn about tea? Here's a guide

One of the features many seem to offer is timers and brewing guides. No doubt this is useful, especially for speciality tea, but I am not particularly enamoured by it.

There are two apps I especially like. One is simply called Tea. Here, you have to list your inventory. When you want to brew a tea, you select the amount of tea you are using and the app brings up instructions on water volume, water temperature and steeping time. Once you set it to brew, the timer comes on. It’s easy to navigate and unfussy. You can log your notes and reviews, and, over time, it helps you identify your preferred brewing temperature and steeping time for each tea. It also has an inventory tracker.

What I actually enjoy in this app is the encyclopedia of tea, which offers a little background information, some geography, details on sourcing and brewing, along with tasting notes. A fun addition is that if you don’t know which tea to brew, just shake your phone and the app picks one randomly from your list! This one only works on iOS; it costs 179.

The other app I like and expect to keep using is MyTeaPal. It comes with a nice story. Its creator, Vincent Liu, discovered his love for tea when he left his home in China to study in the US. Tea, specifically Chinese tea and the gong fu way of brewing, became his avocation. Soon, he was running tea clubs in his university, teaching people tea appreciation and mindfulness. Then the pandemic arrived and Liu, who was finishing university, chose to continue his pursuit of tea. A computer science major, he decided to create an app he could use to record tea notes, log learnings, and rebuild his club online.

MyTeaPal is clearly made by a tea lover, and, while it tilts heavily towards Chinese teas, there’s some room to add and customise. You first create a list of your teas and teaware, including information on vendor, tea type, season, the quantity you have, etc. When you are brewing a tea, you can record how you brewed it, and your tasting notes. There are helpful tags you can use if you are new to tasting, which is a great way to understand flavours. The app lets you track the tea in your inventory, so you can stock up. You can choose to keep it private or share with the larger tea community that uses the app.

It’s the community feature and stories I catch myself engaging with. People post their daily teas and share tasting notes. It seems like an active community, just scrolling through the feed reads like a primer for new teas. MyTeaPal is available for both iOS and Android, and is free.

Tea Nanny is a fortnightly series steeped in the world of tea. Aravinda Anantharaman is a Bengaluru-based tea blogger and writer who reports on the tea industry. @AravindaAnanth1 on Twitter.

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