With Afternoon Tea Week upon us, we at National Tea Day think it’s a perfect time to brush up on your tea techniques – how to brew and what to pair to enjoy a perfect afternoon tea experience.

Are you looking for something caffeinated or herbalicious? Tea doesn’t always have to be an indulgent occasion, but can be just as delicious with a healthier twist.

Tea pairing

An increasingly prominent trend on London’s culinary landscape is the emergence of tea pairing menus. Much as you would pair wine with different dishes, the same is done with tea for an enhanced culinary experience.

Create your perfect afternoon tea party at home, an afternoon tea that is unique, healthier and better for you all round. To help you do just this, we have picked four pairing selections that we think are inspiring and just sublime in taste! 

Elderflower Herbal Tea from Nazani Tea paired with fruit scone with clotted cream but no preserve.

Jasmine Silver Needle Tea from The Teamakers of London paired with seared scallops on cucumber salsa crostini’s.

Sencha ( kombucha ) from Mighty Brew paired with dark chocolate tart with raspberries.

Lemongrass, Apple and Hibiscus Tea from Oteas paired with spiced guacamole and pan-fried pepper and aubergine focaccia.

Filtered Water

Now, let’s talk tea! Brewing a perfect cup of tea starts with a good choice of water. Too often, tap water contains impurities that impact the flavour of your tea. 

Water is best freshly filtered and should not be re-boiled because this diminishes the oxygen content. National Tea Day recommend using filtered water, to bring out the best flavours of your tea. For good leaf tea, the water should be below boiling. This is because the amino acids (which produce the tea’s flavour) dissolve at lower temperatures than tannin. 

Many households use a regular filter, but there are more sophisticated water filters on the market for those with specific water problems or a desire for genuinely excellent water. We like ZeroWater filters because they take out all of the unwanted nasties as opposed to others on the market.

Brewing temperature

Now you have the perfect water, please remember just as the flavours of the teas are different the temperature at which they are brewed is also different. 

Some teas should be brewed at 100°c , 80°c or even 60°c. For instance, the Apple and Hibiscus Tea should be brewed at a temperature of 100°c. The reason why tea should be brewed in a different temperature is due to the processing of the different teas. For example, white tea isn’t as oxidised and therefore requires lower temperature water to optimise the flavour. 

If you’re a real stickler and want to get it exactly right:

  • White is best at 70°c and green at 80°c.
  • Black and Oolong teas, use water around 80°c to 90°c.
  • Herbal Infusions use 100°c water, and 70°c for Chamomile.

Our pairing selections require brewing between 80°c -100°c but let’s not forget about kombucha, which is the cold fermented tea with many health benefits.   

  • Elderflower Herbal Tea – brew at 80°c
  • Jasmine Silver Needle Tea – brew at 80°c
  • Sencha (kombucha) – no brewing required
  • Apple & Hibiscus Tea – brew at 100°c

Steeping times

But remember that the temperature is only a part of the brewing story. Indeed, time is the significant factor of bringing a true flavour to your tea. Too often in our hectic world, people are in a rush and don’t allow for proper tea steeping not to mention having some me-time with a cup of tea. Just as each tea responds to a different temperature, they also respond to time. 

  • For black tea, the steeping time really differs with preference. If you want to drink the tea on its own then 45 seconds to a minute is ideal. However, if you want to build the strong tannin flavours, you may want to leave it for 2-3 minutes.
  • Green teas should be steeped for 1 – 2 minutes for the first infusion.
  • White tea is the purest and most delicate of all teas. It needs longer brewing time than other teas. Please allow to steep for 1-3 minutes.
  • Infusions “herbal teas” come from many different types of plants. Tisane has the most elegant flavours, please allow to steep for 3-8 minutes.

The perfect cup of tea goes beyond the flavours and provide many natural health benefits, and with National Tea Day’s recommendations, you can have a perfect cup of tea. Follow our social media for more tea exper-teas.

So there you go folks, happy afternoon tea week, do enjoy in style! For more inspiration stay tuned to @nationalteaday.

author: Patrycja Pykalo

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