Brewing the best cuppa this International Tea Day
Image: The Tea Spot
This Saturday – 21 May – is the third annual International Tea Day, and a good opportunity for some tea factoids.
‘True tea’ comes from the Camellia sinensis plant and is grown in more than 60 countries. It can be processed in a variety of ways resulting in black, green, white and oolong teas – to name just a few – but all are from the same plant.
When factoring in botanicals/herbals, there are around 300 different plants and over 400 plant parts including leaves roots, bark, seeds, flowers, or fruits used in herbal and fruit infusions.
Blends such as Earl Grey and English Breakfast are quite well known, but consumers may be less familiar with Darjeeling and Assam black teas from India, Ceylon black teas from Sri Lanka and Gyokuro green tea from Japan, as well as Dragon Well green tea and puer (dark) tea from China. [For those interested in discovering more about different types of tea and the countries where they are grown, tune into the UKTIA’s ‘Around the World in 80 Teas’ series at YouTube.com/UKTalkingTea.]
A new Tea Census Report, commissioned by the UK Tea & Infusions Association (UKTIA), which polled tea drinkers in the United Kingdom, finds that the tea respondents choose depends on their mood. More than half of those polled (56%) confirmed that feelings are a factor in the choice of tea or infusion.
It seems that black tea is the ‘all-purpose pick’ for UK tea consumers, which “we sip when we’re feeling hungry, lonely, nostalgic, bored, sad, angry, motivated, or happy,” said Dr Sharon Hall, head of the UKTIA. “Around a third (29%) of Brits turn to chamomile when they want to de-stress, and a fruit infusion is a popular choice when we’re feeling dreamy (16%). Nearly half of those surveyed (46%) said a cup of tea gets them going in the morning. While these results are specific to UK tea consumers, tea drinkers around the world may very well echo the same sentiments.
To ensure that ‘tea drinkers everywhere’ (those novice tea consumers as well as those who are well versed) brew their best cuppa this International Tea Day and beyond, Dr Hall suggests these simple steps:
- Use a good quality tea bag or loose-leaf tea and store tea in a cool, dry place.
- Avoid storing tea next to strongly flavoured or perfumed foods.
- Always use freshly drawn water and consider using a water filter. (In some areas the tap water is hard or soft and this can affect the taste of the tea.)
- Use one tea bag or one rounded teaspoon of loose-leaf tea for each cup or mug.
- Smart boil — using the desired mug, measure the exact amount of water needed for the specific number of cups and just boil that. Per Dr Hall; “This will help save on energy costs and will ensure a good flavour tea which develops best when made with freshly boiled water. The lack of oxygen bubbles in re-boiled water can give the tea a flat taste.”
- Allow the tea to brew for the recommended time before pouring, always read the instructions on the pack and if brewing tea from a bag in a mug, adding the milk last is best.
- In terms of brew times, depending on strength preference:
- Most black teas should be brewed for three to four minutes.
- Lapsang Souchong black tea tastes best after four to five minutes.
- Brew green tea for three to four minutes.
- Brew oolong tea for three to five minutes.
- Remove the bag after brewing, before adding the milk.
No matter which type of tea you prefer, remember to consider –and thank – the tea producers and pickers who are responsible for bringing you your favourite brew this International Tea Day and every day.
- Vanessa L Facenda, editor, Tea & Coffee Trade Journal.
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