Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage. – Catherine Douzel
In today’s posting, I will take a look at a brand of Earl Grey tea, sold by Rishi, which is advertised to be both organic, and free-trade approved.
I’m a big fan of the Earl Grey varieties, as it is a good, potent black tea, as well as an aromatic (courtesy of the Bergamot citrus oils) and soothing tea. Earl Grey is not only applied to black teas, as it can be used with certain varieties of greens, as well.
I purchase my tea in loose leaf form, as I have found over the years that loose tea infuses better with the water, and freshness is a near guarantee when buying in bulk, especially with the popularity of Earl Grey. you can buy any tea in pre-bagged form (Lipton, Twinnings, TAZO, etc.), but I am a strong believer that bagged tea should only be used when you don’t have the time to use loose-leaf. Leafed tea is simply so much better, in a matter of freshness and quality of experience.
Each variety of tea has different steep times, and leaf amounts that should be used. When using loose leaf black teas, I use one teaspoon of measured tea per 8 oz (cup) of tea, steeped for 4-5 minutes. I say “4-5 minutes,” simply due to you may not be able to have a stopwatch on your wrist (I’m a bit picky on tea taste and bitterness, so I time it) to get the timing down just right. Also, a very important reminder about brewing tea, is the quality of water, as well as the heat of the water you are using.
Most black teas require a temperature of 210 degrees or more to properly infuse the tea. How do I know what 210 degrees is, without buying a thermometer? I’ve found, that a great rule of thumb is, if the water is boiling & bubbling heavily, you’re good to go with black, with green, as it requires a far “cooler” water temperature to bring out the best flavor, is that once the water is steaming, and tiny bubbles are starting to barely kick to the surface, it’s time to remove the kettle from heat/unplug from the wall*.
*I use an electrical kettle in my workplace, simply because I nearly burned my building down due to accidentally leaving my tea kettle on the heat, then taking a phone call. Safety first!!!
Water is very, very important. Think of it as using stale chips to enjoy chips & salsa. Who wants chewy, nasty chips? A good thing to do before you put the water to boil is to fill the kettle with enough hot tap water to be able to “swish” around, and basically give the inside a good swish-cleaning, let it sit a minute or so, and fill it with filtered water–tap water isn’t the best simply because of its hard water properties. These tend to linger around in boiled tea water, not allowing for good infusion of the water. I use water fountain water here at work, simply because I used tap water once, and could notice the difference. Yea, it’s that important!
Back to the Earl Grey:
In this picture, you’ll see my trusted tea mug (16 oz, so I will use two teaspoons of leaves), my loose leaf tea bulk-bagged, and my infuser. I use a metal-meshed infuser, simply by preference–plastic ones are available, but I don’t like how infusion stains the plastic meshing, plus the metal is a bit more hardy. I use a “basket style” infuser as opposed to a tea ball style, only because I couldn’t find a reasonably priced tea ball that would support more than 1 teaspoon of tea, and provide proper infusion. I do have a tea ball, but only for 8 oz cups–which is rare for me.
Mug, Tea, Infuser
Now, when I go to boil the water, I have a bit of a routine that I follow, which nearly guarantees me (short of me dropping the basket into the water after infusion, and losing all the leaves into the water) a perfect cup of tea, every time:
- Clean out the kettle (hot water, swish, sit for a minute, swish again & pour).
- Clean out mug (if dirty for whatever reason) and fill with hot water and let sit until water is done boiling. This allows for the cup to stay warm while waiting on the boiling water, as it will allow the mug to stay hot when infusing, as to not allow the tea to get cold before consumption.
- Clean infuser with hot water, and dry with a paper towel.
- Measure out tea (1 tsp per 8 oz.)
- Fill kettle with filtered (or non-tap) water, and set to boil.
Kettle, Infuser & Measuring Spoon
As you can see, with black tea, it makes the tea water a nice dark brown-ish color (yes, that is a binder clip holding my infuser to my mug) :
I steep my Earl Grey per the suppliers reccomendations, which call for a 4 minute infusion. After that, I remove the basket from the water, press a spoon to the leaves to get out any remaining water, and flavor it to taste–I do not use any sort of milk/dairy product, simply because it negatively effects the anti-oxidants that reside in the tea… I use about 1 tablespoon +/- of sugar, as I like just a little bit of sweetness. Stir in the sweetness (if preferred), set your basket aside, and enjoy your cup!
Early Grey (in my opinion) is one of the best teas out there… Mainly for its aromatic properties, but also its abilities to rejuvenate (I think they call that caffeine), and how it tastes, even when cold. A nifty trick that my father does when making iced tea, is to brew the tea with three bags per quart of regular black tea, and add one bag of Earl Grey, to give it an “late” aromatic taste on the palate.
Today’s Earl Grey tea brand was Rishi, a brand that I have frequently purchased in the past, for its affordability and freshness. You can purchase it online here, or if you live somewhere near a natural foods store, they most likely have it in bulk! My mug is courtesy of Kim, who purchased it at a Starbucks mainly because of its size, me stealing her other mug to enjoy tea in, and her luck that it was on clearance.
Four requirements for the perfect cup of tea:
- Good water.
- A good infuser.
- Fresh, quality leaves.
- A big mug, full of personality.
Next posting I will venture into the wide world of green teas, as I have some gunpowder, and decaf mango green that I’m anxious to try, thanks for stopping by!
Filed under: Black, Review n' Brew, Rishi Brand, Teas | Tagged: Black Tea, Earl Grey, Fresh, Mug, Quality, Reviews, Rishi Brand, tea | 1 Comment »