Just like home coffee sales, home sales of tea have rocketed over the last month. This is great that people are buying leaf tea and taking the time to enjoy it. My lock-down experience has stopped me from consuming milk in any beverage and I now wonder why I ever did?
As a coffee drinker, I know that good coffee has no need for milk, it’s a northern European habit that we use to keep warm and cosy in winter, that has spilt across our whole year now. Tea is the same. When you have nice high-quality tea made well, milk is just out of place.
To help you get the most out of your tea, I thought it was about time that I made a basic brew guide for you.
Whole leaf, black teas such as Nilgiri Pearl Nilgiri Frost or even Assam TGFOP work really well and simply all using about the same amount of water to tea ratio and extraction time. We tend to start with 10g of Tea to a litre of water, which should be fresh and hitting the tea about 95C. We usually steep 3 minutes first, and as you repeat the steep, increase the extraction time by something like half a minute. Good black tea will take 3-4 steeps.
Green teas such as Nilgiri Dewdrop and Nilgiri Slender are sweet and subtle and have lots of health benefits. We tend to brew these a little cooler, in the realms of 85C. 2.5-3 minutes to start with and then re-steep, adding an extra 30-45 seconds each time. I often find that my second steep is sweeter than my first.
White teas, such as Nilgiri Peony; may look more like water than your average perception of Rosie Lea, but hold such great flavour. 75-80C, 2-3 minutes. 8-10g a litre. Re-steep 3-4 times.
From the above, we can see that when you buy REALLY good tea, it will take multiple infusions. When we move into smaller leaves, that may cost less but we extract faster and often don’t re-steep.
Guide to take away from this:
Whole Leaf Black Teas: On average 95C 4-5 minutes. Steep for longer if you are adding milk, as you will have hidden the rough edges of the extraction.
Green teas: 80-85C 2-3 minutes depending on the leaf size and freshness.
Fruit Infusions: 90C, 5 minutes is usually a good place to start.
Nilgiri Kukicha: Nothing like any of the above. Tea bush stems, processed like a green tea and roasted. You literally can brew this all day long and the flavour just keeps on coming. Someone tell Simon Rogan he needs to replace his cooking of scallops with Lapsang Souchong and upgrade to Nilgiri Kukicha, please? This tea we can literally add boiling water to and start at 3 minutes and extend as you re-steep.