Leaf or bag? Milk or lemon? One lump or two? The humble cup of tea is a surprisingly complicated little character, and many a family grumble has begun around the brewing pot. Jai Breitnauer explains – and shares some of Good’s favourite tea recipes perfect for the warmer months
According to the British Standards Institution, the perfect pot of tea begins with a porcelain or glazed earthenware receptacle. The tea-to-water ratio is 2g to every 100ml – make sure the water is freshly boiled – and six-minutes is the optimum time to steep. The pot should then be poured into a porcelain tea-cup containing 5ml of fresh milk.
For those of us who prefer a lighter cup, a thin slice of lemon can be served with most black teas. Don’t squeeze it – the oil and juice will seep out accordingly in their own time.
Green tea has its own rules. A much more delicate leaf, the water temperature should be between 83c – 89c; or just before boiling point. Warm a bulbous pot before adding the leaves and water, and allow to steep for no more than three minutes. Enjoy the tea quickly in a small cup – if you allow it to cool too much the flavor changes to become quite bitter.
Herbal tea might seem like a newfangled trend in the west, but it’s actually one of the oldest forms of tea. Legend has it that 5000 years ago, servants of Chinese Emperor Shen Nung were boiling water when leaves from a nearby tree fell in. The Emperor enjoyed this concoction, and soon it became popular to drink different types of herbal tea for health reasons. Like green tea, herbal and fruit teas often have to be made at low temperatures; and can even be enjoyed cold.
The history of afternoon tea
Discovered by a Portuguese missionary in the early 1600s, tea was brought to England in 1662 by King Charles II and his Portuguese wife Catherine. It soon became a common and popular beverage among the upper classes, who took great pleasure in collecting the dainty, Chinese-style tea-making equipment.
Tea was originally taken in a ladies bedchamber with female friends. The coffee houses, or ‘penny universities’ of the time were off limits to women; a hot-bed of both political debate and sedition. The 18th Century saw the rise of tea-gardens across Europe, a pleasant place for men and women to meet freely and enjoy some entertainment. This gave rise to the tradition of afternoon tea, where a pot was served along with small sandwiches and fruit cake to bridge the gap between lunch and supper.
Don’t get high tea confused with low tea. Low tea is taken around 3pm, in armchairs with low tables. High tea is a meal taken around 6pm of meat and potatoes and hot tea. It was enjoyed mostly by farm hands, although the aristocracy would usually take high-tea on Sundays to allow their staff time off for church.
Teariffic tea recipes
Red Seal have a delicious range of fruit teas to enjoy during any season – brewed hot or cold. Here are some of our favourite refreshing summer recipes
Apple and Elderflower Refresher
Red Seal cold brew Apple & Elderflower tea (5 tea bags)
1 cup of cold or warm water
4 cups of sparkling water
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
3 tablespoons of agave nectar (or honey)
The juice of one large granny smith apple
Ice cubes for serving
Optional garnish: Apple slices
Pour water over tea bags, and leave to steep for five minutes in a 2 litre container.
Add sparkling water, steep for another 5 minutes and then remove the tea bags
Add the grated ginger, agave nectar and apple juice and stir well.
Pour into glasses and add ice before serving
Blood Orange Rumba
40ml Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum
150ml lime juice
10ml sugar syrup
Splash of vanilla essence
50ml Red Seal cold brew Blood Orange tea
Fresh orange slices
Add Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, lime juice, sugar syrup and vanilla essence into a catalina/or similar glass packed with ice
Fill the rest of the glass with Red Seal Blood Orange cold brew tea.
Stir very well
Garnish with orange and serve immediately
Red Seal cold brew Exotic Fruits tea (5 tea bags)
3 cups of cold or warm water
2 cups (500ml) of coconut water
1 tablespoon of black chia seeds
1 lemon (finely sliced)
1 cup of fresh mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon of fresh grated turmeric (okay to substitute with powedered turmeric if there is no fresh turmeric on hand)
Ice cubes for serving
Pour water over tea bags, and leave to steep for 5 minutes in a 2 litre container.
Add coconut water and leave to steep for another 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags.
Add chia seeds, turmeric, sliced lemon and mint and stir well.
Pour into glasses and add ice before serving.
For more delicious tea recipes and ideas, visit www.redseal.co.nz/