Tea stewing or is this the true taste?


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Tea stewing or is this the true taste?

Postby crsven » Jul 2nd, '07, 13:56

Ok, I'm new to tea, so I'm hoping someone can clear this up for me.

I've found I really enjoy Twinings English Breakfast and I've had my current canister for a month and a half or so.

I usually infuse a cup at a time with a ball infuser (more of a wand with a small egg shaped ball on the end - half of which had holes) and brew for 3-5 minutes with no stewing occurring. I add a little milk before adding the water. However, I recently switched to a mesh basket infuser and have found that even brewing for a minute or so gives me a bit of a bitter taste.

Am I just now truly tasting English Breakfast at full strength (now that the leaves can really expand), or is this getting stewed somehow? Hopefully it's the latter, because I've got a lot of cups left in this tin :)

Thanks in advance!
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Postby Chip » Jul 2nd, '07, 14:06

Welcome csrven,

Perhaps what is happening is...when you used the wand contraption, the leaf did not have enough room to expand and you used more leaf to compensate.

With the basket, you can use less leaf than with the ball since there is more room for the tea leaves to expand. The basket will give you a better brew than a ball, you may have to adjust how much leaf you use now.

Most loose leaf black teas require 3-5 minutes to brew. So, adjust the amount of leaf so the brew tastes just right with a brew time of 3-5 minutes.

Also, you mentioned something that I found very curious. You add milk before adding the water. What do you mean by that? Do you brew the tea in water with milk. The common practice if you add milk to black tea is to add it after brewing.
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Postby crsven » Jul 2nd, '07, 14:17

Ah - I forgot about that option. I'll give it a try.

As far as the milk goes: it seems like I've read it both ways. I do know that it looks and seems to taste better when I add it before the water. I can understand the worry of it cooling the water, though, so I'm torn. Once I get the brewing down, I'll experiment with milk again.

So English Breakfast doesn't usually have a tartness?
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Postby Chip » Jul 2nd, '07, 14:50

...tartness is different from bitterness. Many teas can have either or both, it just varies from tea to tea. I am not familiar with Twinings too much, but traditionally, English Breakfast was Keemun black tea, 100%. But today almost all mainstrean brands do a lot of blending in order to reduce their costs. Keemun can certainly be bitter, not sure about tart.

I wonder if they list the sources for their tea on the label. Common blending teas are Kenyan and Ceylon, they can give a tartness.
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Postby teaspoon » Jul 2nd, '07, 15:04

100% Keemun? I'd always been told that English Breakfast was mostly Assam, normally. Have I been lied to all this time? And thus lying to my customers?

~tsp
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Postby Chip » Jul 2nd, '07, 15:11

teaspoon wrote:100% Keemun? I'd always been told that English Breakfast was mostly Assam, normally. Have I been lied to all this time? And thus lying to my customers?

~tsp


...lol...or have I been lied to...

Irish Breakfast is traditionally Assam. Well, so I have read.

English Breakfast is traditionally Keemun. Again, so I have read.

I have read this on mainly reputable vendors' sites such as Upton and Harney. But there is so much misinformation out there, I could be wrong.

But I would stress traditionally, today so much blending is done. But still some pure "Breakfast" teas can be found.
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Postby crsven » Jul 2nd, '07, 15:41

Twinings' website lists Kenyan and Assam. I'm skeptical that it's the normal taste for their tea only because I've never tasted that bitterness (perhaps tart was the wrong word) before.
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Postby Chip » Jul 2nd, '07, 15:59

crsven wrote:Twinings' website lists Kenyan and Assam. I'm skeptical that it's the normal taste for their tea only because I've never tasted that bitterness (perhaps tart was the wrong word) before.


When you say tart, perhaps you are refering to the bitter bite you experienced?

Very interesting...well...here is one link from Harney...and a quote. Theirs is 100% Keemun.

"Our English Breakfast has an ancient pedigree. Historic researchers trace its heritage back to the teas that the English drank regularly in the 1800’s. It is, simply, China Black — 100% Keemun. Great with milk and sugar."

http://www.harney.com/englishbreakfast.html

Oh, and their Irish Breakfast...

"Our Irish Breakfast is 100% Assam tea, like most traditional Irish blends. This tea give will your morning a powerful start. Like cereal, it takes milk and sugar well. In contrast to other vendors, ours is a little more refined. This is John Harney's favorite black tea."

Hmmm, Upton agrees about the Irish Breakfast being Assam, but their English Breakfast is Ceylon and Assam. I am going to ask Harney about their "research." I am curious now.

Is English Breakfast whatever a vendor feels like putting in it??? I guess I am interested in the origins. Today, clearly, anything goes as long as it sells.
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Postby Chip » Jul 2nd, '07, 16:15

...ohh, how could I forget, Adagio sells English Breakfast made from Keemun and Irish Breakfast made from Ceylon and Assam.
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Postby Tony » Jul 3rd, '07, 07:33

Heya chip.

I think English Breakfast is just what they call a black tea with a pretty robust taste. It's supposed to be good with a little milk and sugar. So it's not that English Breakfast has to be really grown anyhere in particular, but something can just be "an english breakfast tea".

Blends have varied using Assam, Kenyan, Ceylon or Keemun teas.

But I could be wrong :)
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Postby Tony » Jul 3rd, '07, 07:39

Ah, if I recall correctly, for some reason, Irish breakfast tea is usually Assam tea.
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Postby crsven » Jul 3rd, '07, 14:43

Thanks for the tip, Chip.

Half tablespoon at 2 minutes came up with no bitter taste, so I think it was just the amount I was using. Now that I've got hope, I can start experimenting.
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Postby teaspoon » Jul 3rd, '07, 15:05

That almost definitely was your problem... Usually one teaspoon of leaves is sufficient for a full-strength brew at 3-5 minutes.

~tsp
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Postby Chip » Jul 3rd, '07, 17:04

crsven wrote:Thanks for the tip, Chip.

Half tablespoon at 2 minutes came up with no bitter taste, so I think it was just the amount I was using. Now that I've got hope, I can start experimenting.


You are quite welcome. Now like you said, you know you can experiment and find your perfect cup! This is one of the fun things about tea.

And as "teaspoon" said, you might try even less leaf and more time, your stash of tea will last longer and less waste.

Always be willing to experiment and have fun with it. :D
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Postby crsven » Jul 6th, '07, 12:17

Wow, yeah. At some point I must have misread teaspoon as tablespoon. :oops:

Good thing I asked...
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