Dear coffee lovers, although none of us could imagine a morning without coffee, there are some mornings when there is no other option than to supplement our caffeine deficit cravings. Here comes the tea. Tamtadada /imagine fanfare in a background. or not?. Even I must admit that sometimes, I do cheat on coffee with a lovely cup of earl grey.
As mentioned in the previous article (link to the espresso article), preparing coffee is science but when it comes to tea, unfortunately, the same rules apply. In the UK, we drink four cups of tea daily per head. Even though we do like our tea its quality is shamelessly poor. To help you choose the quality tea, there are some key differences you should pay attention to. The size, age of tea leaves and its brewing time are the elements which play an important role.
In terms of shape, size and quality of tea leaves, there are at least ten different grades. The one which are easily found on supermarket shelves are mostly the lowest grade called – tea dust. Tea dust is the tiny particles, which break off from leaves during its processing, with relatively little taste and high ability to produce a very dark liquid. The other thing which gives tea its delicate and rounded flavour is most tender leaves picked from the youngest plants. And so, as you expected, supermarkets’ shelves offer us the larger and older leaves with a harsher taste.
But to be honest if you are a tea lover I don’t need to tell you this because no coffee snob would go to a supermarket for good coffee. No tea is quite like another, so each and every tea is as distinctive as the tongues that taste it. Whether it is black, green, white or herbs and fruit, tea will show you its unmistakeable character. The best and purest black teas come from single tea gardens in Japan, China, India or Sri Lanka. Black tea, green tea or white and pure are all from the same Camellia Sinensis plant. What causes the difference in taste? It is the place where they grow, when they are picked and how they are processed. Caffeine is present in all kinds of teas and even the decaffeinated ones contain small amounts. Curiously, that is why tea is so popular among Buddhist monks as it helped them to stay awake for long meditation.
Obviously, if you feel like drinking quality tea, you could always go into tea shops or attend an English High Tea, but then you will be missing the fun of brewing your own cup of tea. I would say that it is even easier than using a coffee machine or any of the alternative coffee brewing methods. The simplest way is to get tea leafs, hot water and its done. Get inspired by the tea farmers in China who are just sipping their tea with floating leaves in the water. Or, equip yourself with some fancy tea press (http://www.brewzer.co.uk/index.php/tea-brewing/tea-press.html) and become a professional tea maker.
One way or another, there are always plenty ways how to play with flavour, brewing time or water temperature to get your cup of tea just right. And if the result is not satisfying, there is always coffee.