When the Guardian recently published two passionate readers’ letters begging the question ‘Why are coffee house teas such bad brews?’ it brought back memories of almost every cup of tea I have ever ordered in a café: water often too hot for delicate teas such as white and green tea; a giant pot with a tiny cup and no place to remove the infuser, leaving you at first pour with one cup too weak, at the second with a cup that’s just right and, after that, too many cups of over-brewed and bitter tea – a far cry from the perfect brew.
Making the perfect tea shouldn’t be difficult though, and given the rising trend for premium and specialty teas in the coffee house, it should be a priority.
So, are you making tea at its very best for your guests? To be safe, here’s a short guide with the easy and golden rules of tea making.
Use great loose tea
Buy the best quality whole leaf loose tea poaaible, from a company that focuses on taste. Good quality tea doesn’t just mean great taste but can be re-infused multiple times if cafe owners willing to top up the customers’ tea pots with hot water and really give them value for money from the leaf.
Use a small teapot
Small teapots or tea vessels provide greater control over the infusion of the tea and decant this fully. If making tea for one person only, use a teapot that is no larger than 300ml. If using a larger vessel, be sure that the cups match up with the volume prepared, or provide a vessel into which they can decant.
Be generous with the leaf
Decide on the amount of tea to use by weight and not volume – around 5g for a 300ml teapot.
Use good water at the right temperature
Get the water temperature right for the tea that’s being served: green teas and white teas taste best with 60°C-80°C water; black teas and oolong taste best with near boiling water.
Use a Brita filter to get a lot more flavour for the perfect tea and there won’t be the smell of chlorine or white scum floating on the surface of the cup.
Infuse for 3 Minutes
An infusion at 3-minutes renders a perfectly balanced cup. There are many tea timers – digital or sand – that can be bought and added to the experience. What’s more, for those who like a stronger cup, they can make this decision based on the knowledge of how long it has already been infusing for.
Pour all of the infusion from the tea pot into the cup. Don’t leave any tea infusing because it will become bitter.
Prefer using teabags?
Loose leaf always tastes better but teabags are completely fuss-free and delicious, too. Be sure to buy good quality tea bags containing whole leaf tea, not dust. If Dunkin’ Donuts can serve whole leaf teabags – and they do, so can all artisan coffee shops.
Article contribution from Sally Gurteen – @thecafecat
Author Bio: Sally works as the Master Storyteller for JING Tea, dealing with and curating the best stories she can find from the tea gardens and beyond. She has also previously worked with a major coffee house and numerous food and drink brands.