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Brewing General Tea

The Importance of Water

At their historic first meeting in 1972, Mao TseTung chose Lung Ching Dragonwell to serve to Richard Nixon.  More importantly for our story though, the tea was brewed in water from the LongJing Spring at West Lake – where the tea originated from.  The spring water is said to be clear, light and sweet adding delightful flavours to an already delightful tea.  Was this overkill – or is water important to your tea brewing process?  detoxifier

Well, water is what your tea is steeped in – so the importance of the quality of the water you use is almost as significant as the quality of the tea that you use to steep into that water.  The truth is that the same tea leaves, steeped in the exact same way will taste differently in different parts of the world.   Clarity, colour and taste are the most important characterisitcs to any tea – and the clarity can be adversely affected by the mineral content in your water.

The following are the primary problems with water that can affect the quality of your tea:
1.  water hardness – is caused by a high mineral content – calcium and magnesium
2. chemical taste/odor – caused by chlorination of water and the presence of hydrogen sulfide
3. particulate matter/scale and lime accumulation –  

That means…smell your water – if it smells like chemicals, don’t use it.  If the water in your area is high in minerals – then try a filtration system, either a built in one or a simple Brita filter.  Alternatively, you can use bottled water. 

The fundamental message…care as much about the water you use for your tea, as the tea you are using – it is afterall 99.9% of what you’re drinking.

Categories
Brewing General Tea Tea Education

The Golden Rules of Brewing

This is priceless – and surprisingly accurate.  So many things done right:

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Brewing Tea

Brewing the Perfect Chai

Now the English language is about oversimplification – and the word Chai has fallen victim to that. Chai simply means tea in many different languages – cha, chai, tsai, etc. – the variations are extensive but the word is the same. That means that the term ‘Chai Tea’ is a redundant term. So what is being referred to when you see the word Chai in your local tea store? What is being referred to is an Indian spiced tea. The variations and combinations are endless – as many recipes as there are Indian households in the world. The consistency in the recipe is that it has a black tea base and is then blended with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. You can either leave it at that – or you can continue adding ginger, pepper, saffron, etc.

So what is the best way to brew your Chai? We love brewing ours directly in milk on the stove. Here is the recipe:

Hot Chai – makes 2 servings

2 heaping tsp Kashmiri Chai, Decaffeinated Chai or Rooibos Chai
2 cups milk (whichever type you prefer)
honey to taste

Combine tea with cold milk in saucepan – bring to simmer over medium/low heat being careful not to scald the milk. Strain into cups and add honey to taste.

Chai Milkshake – makes 4 servings

3 heaping tsp Kashmiri Chai, Decaffeinated Chai or Rooibos Chai
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Steep tea in 5 cups of boiled water. Set aside and allow tea to steep for 20 minutes. Remove and discard tea leaves. In a blender add ice cream and tea – blend well. Serve in tall glass with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Categories
Brewing General Tea

James Norwood Pratt – the tea guru

Here is a great interview with James Norwood Pratt – who we consider one of the most respected experts on tea:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9zT5VZKHI0]

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Brewing

George Orwell – on Tea?

Well – we knew some people had some rather strong opinions on tea – but we were recently forwarded this essay by George Orwell – and think he has taken strong opinions to a whole new level.  I must admit that I cringed as I read through most of it – but hey – read for yourselves – and tell us what you think:  George Orwell.

Categories
Brewing

Brewing the perfect cup of tea

Begin with good tea – tea – even loose leaf quality – is the cheapest beverage in the world next to water – so there really is no excuse to be drinking poor quality tea.  Use freshly drawn water – we recommend filtered water – but if you are lucky enough to have access to fresh spring water – use it.  Measure 1 tsp per 6oz cup into an infusor.  Make sure your infusor is large enough to allow the ‘agony of the leaves’ to take place properly.  Allow your water to reach a boil when brewing black teas, pu-ehr, herbals – and longer oxidized oolongs.  For white, green and lightly oxidized oolongs – use water that has reached approximately 80C.  Allow your tea to steep – 3-5 minutes for white, 1-3 minutes for green, 2-4 minutes for oolongs, 3-5 minutes for black except for Darjeelings – which require only 2-4 minutes.  Sit back – and enjoy. 

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Brewing

To clean or not to clean

Should you clean your teapot after every use or not?  There are those that believe – STRONGLY – that you should never clean out your teapot – that the tannin build up in the teapot adds to the flavours of the tea.  There are others that believe – STRONGLY – that by not cleaning your teapot, you will never have a clean and pure tasting cup of tea.  Our position on it is quite simple – it depends on whether you enjoy different types of tea or if you prefer drinking just one type.  If you do drink different types/categories of tea – white, green, oolong, etc – then we suggest either cleaning your teapot thoroughly, or keeping a different teapot for every different type of tea that you drink.  A white tea is far too smooth and delicate for example to be drinking out of a teapot with black tea tannin buildup.

What do you think?