Time to Put The Kettle On

The perfect temperature for tea is two degrees hotter than just right.

The best cup of Tea is usually made at home because so many cafes make really awful Tea. There is so much emphasis on coffee origins, varieties and styles, one’s favourite barista and coffee spot, it is a shame that Tea is just an afterthought in many cafes. The American habit of placing a small coffee cup & saucer in front of you with a dry tea bag and a pot of semi hot water is becoming common. The price of a cup Tea is on par with coffee and yet in most cases unless a specific ‘Tea Centre”, tea is only a pot or cup of hot water and a lonely Teabag.

“Tea is the elixir of life.”

Myoan Eisai

We have become accustomed to this regular style of tea – a tea bag popped into a cup. Really, given the amount of time and specialist equipment given to coffee making, plus the wide choice of single origins or blends from all over the world it’s high time Tea drinkers united and demanded a much better cup of Tea. A fuller range of varieties, made well and served, as once was the intention in fine china cups. Perhaps, better still ditch the Teabags and make tea in a Teapot.

According to Roy Morgan Research,

“One in every two Australians 14 years and older, drink Tea at least once in an average week, making hot tea one of the country’s most popular non-alcoholic beverages. Only tap water, milk and hot coffee are more widely consumed.

Some of the disasters I’ve encountered when out for a Tea are making Tea too weak, not using a proper Teacup (no it”s not the same as a coffee cup) expecting Tea to brew with water straight from a zip heater and not at boiling point and using inferior quality tea. Another issue that makes awful Tea is not storing Tea in the correct way so the Tea is stale or other aromas have infused into the Tea.

STORING TEA BAGS AND TEA LEAVES

It doesn’t matter if you are using fresh tea leaves or tea bags, all tea should be stored to protect the taste and freshness.

  • Keep Tea in an airtight, opaque container away from light in sealed tea caddies, jars, ceramic pots, drawers or tins. Clear glass containers are okay but they should be put in a dark cupboard.
  • Make sure the Tea containers have a strong seal.
  • Keep Tea away from other strong aromas Tea will quickly pick up other odours in the kitchen This is called hygroscopic meaning Tea absorbs moisture and smells from the air like flowers, spices, fruits and other Teas.
  • Don’t store Tea near laundry products or any cleaning products
  • Store tea varieties separately. Black teas away from herbal infusions, and more delicate Teas. There is nothing worse than a good cup of black Tea spoilt from tasting like peppermint tea or camomile.
  • Keep Tea away from moisture and humidity. Moisture will damage the tea and cause mould.
  • Store Tea in room temperature not in the fridge.
  • Keep Teas away from the heat of the stove, oven and sunlight.
  • Tea is best stored in bulk so a full Tea caddy rather than a small amount in the bottom so there is less oxygen in the container.

If Tea is stored correctly the freshness will last a long time. Black tea for 2 years and green tea for 6 to 8 months.

The taste and aroma of true Tea is from the production process of the tea leaves of the Camellia sinensis plants. True tea is either green tea, white tea, black tea, oolong tea or pu-erh tea and is processed by hand or by machine.

Black tea is made using either a traditional method or the CTC – cut, tear and curl method. There are five steps to make tea, both are similar although the traditional method is done mostly by hand. The Tea has arrived from the plantations where it is-

Withered-The tea leaves are spread out to wither and lose the moisture in the leaves.

Rolled-In the traditional method the leaves will be rolled to release any remaining moisture content. This gently coats the whole unbroken leaves with the juices. The CTC method chops the leaves into small pieces and it creates a dusty substance called fannings ( used for tea bags).

Oxidised-The green leaves are spread out in a cool damp space and left to oxidise, as this goes on the leaves turn a copper colour.

Dried-The leaves are then dried with hot air which turns them from copper to black.

Sorted- A process to grade the tea leaves by size and quality.

Various types of Teas are left to oxidise for different times to produce the unique varietals. Oolong tea is somewhere between green and black so only partially oxidized. White tea on the other hand is rare because it is only picked two days of the year when the buds have not fully opened.

White tea has the highest caffeine content of all the tea types because it is the least processed and the purest form of tea.

Content Di Baker 2020 Images unless stated are courtesy of Unsplash

Header Image Di Baker

Title quote by Terri Guillemets

The teapot site Header Image courtesy of Sheri Silver Unsplash