The best place to enjoy a cup of tea is often at home because so many cafes today do not serve ‘proper tea’ We have become accustomed to a tea bag popped into a cup or a pot of hot water and a lonely teabag on the side, unfortunately.
Given the emphasis on specialist baristas, origins, brands, styles and varieties of coffee 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. Better still ditch the Teabags and make proper tea in a Teapot.
“Tea is the elixir of life.”Myoan Eisai
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 is not storing Tea in the correct way to maintain freshness and keep other aromas from being infused into the Tea. Herbal tisanes are terrific but not stored where they infiltrate black tea or vice versa.
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 should be put in a dark cupboard away from light.
- 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.
- 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