The Three T's
A great cup of tea can be boiled down to three things: tea, time, and temperature.
What kind of tea are you steeping? Black? Green? Herbal?
The longer you steep teas for, the stronger they become. Some teas, such as green tea, are ready to enjoy after 1-2 minutes of steeping (our Fukamushi Sencha is a great example of this)
Black teas are best at 3-5 minutes, and strong tea lovers let them steep even longer than that.
Herbals are happiest at the five minute mark in most cases.
Black and herbal teas should be steeped in freshly boiled water. 195F or above.
Green teas like things a little cooler (to prevent bitter notes) so let the kettle rest for five minutes after boiling, or select a cooler temperature setting on a variable temperature kettle. 180F is optimal for many green teas.
Tips for Restaurants:
Time and temperature are both important to consider when preparing high quality teas of various types. Our restaurant customers have some unique challenges operationally in addressing both.
Many, if not most, are taking hot water from a red tap off a coffee machine, or from an espresso machine – which can produce wildly different temperatures. The best solution is a hot water tower with variable temperature settings, but that is not always possible or practical to install.
Here are some easy strategies for producing a top – notch cup of tea, no matter what your setup is.
- Check your water temperature, and if possible, calibrate your machine to deliver 195 degree water for tea.
- Know the teas you are steeping, and the categories they fall into: Black / Green / Herbal. These are the most popular categories of tea, but you may also have an Oolong or white tea on hand – check the label for time and temperature information
- Train staff to deliver teas to the table quickly (to avoid over-steeping if they are left sitting) and with this simple phrase: “Please allow a few minutes for this tea to steep” for black and herbal teas, or “This tea needs a little less time than others to steep – it should be ready in two minutes” for green teas.
Your restaurant tea program likely (hopefully) consists of three categories: Black Tea, Green Tea, and Herbal Tea. White teas and oolongs may also be included.
Black Teas include English Breakfasts, Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, etc. These teas are best steeped with a high temperature to fully release their flavour. Near boiling is perfect – 195 – 205 is the ideal range. Most restaurant coffee equipment can be calibrated to produce water at this temperature if you don’t have a stand – alone water tower. Herbal teas are also best steeped with this temperature range.
Green teas can be pure tea leaves or blends such as our Field Berry Green or Apple on the Green. Green teas are ideally steeped in the 180 degree range. Steeped too hot, green teas can become bitter.
To achieve the ideal temperature for greens (180-185 F) when your water source is set at 195 degrees, or you are pulling from an espresso machine or red tap, you have three simple options:
- Add a shot of cold water to the tea in the pot before pouring hot water in.
- Use the 2-step method: pour water into a teapot, and then pour that water into the teapot you will be using (this will step down the water by 10 degrees). It’s a good idea to keep a room temperature ceramic pot in easy reach of the water station exactly for this purpose
- Pour water into the pot, and let it sit for five minutes before adding tea. This is not a great solution for busy or rapid service restaurant tea customers, but it does work in a more relaxed service environment.