Day: October 15, 2021

There are two factors that always help derive the optimum flavour from tea: water quality and temperature In that sense, if you look after the water, the tea will look after itself A friend of mine called recently about the green tea she was steeping. It was a loose leaf tea that I had recommended but it didn’t meet the expectations I had set, she said. So I set off to see for myself why it hadn’t been delivered. How did you make it? I asked. The water came out of an espresso machine, piping hot. It was also hard water that tasted mineral-y. The heat scalded the delicate green tea. And after being steeped for 3 minutes, it had become bitter. No matter how much or how little you know about tea and tea varietals, there are two factors that always help derive the optimum flavor from tea: water quality and temperature. A fellow tea friend, Peter Keen, says that if you look after the water, the tea will look after itself. It’s also why connoisseurs will go in search of spring water to make that perfect cup of tea. But what can we do within what’s available to us? Let’s assume our water choices are limited to the filtered water we use in our homes. If it’s good enough to drink, it’s good enough to make tea. Most teas come with recommended temperatures and steeping times, which offer a useful guide. Some thumb rules: Do not use boiling water because it scalds the tea. Black teas may be able to withstand the temperatures but there are so many kinds that it’s not a one-size-fits-all. A spring-flush Darjeeling, for instance, doesn’t do well with boiling water. Green teas need such short steeps that very hot water ruins them, as was my friend’s experience. We tried the same tea but with filtered water heated in a vessel this time. As it neared boiling, we turned off the gas and let it cool for about 4 minutes. We didn’t check the temperature but it was hot enough to drink without scalding. Thirty seconds produced a delicately flavoured, lightly coloured liquor. A longer second steep of 1 minute revealed more vegetal flavours and colour and the joy of seeing the leaves unfurl. We also found that at 2 minutes, this tea entered the realm of bitterness. The Chinese way of drinking green […]