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Infusion Confusion

Infusion Confusion

I like the way this sounds, so I am going to blab about brewing. So many visitors to the CarriageHouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens are confused about how to brew tea. I hope this helps with Infusion Confusion.

Tea Tools

Let’s start with the Kettle, used only to heat water. There are some great models on the market which switch off when the boiling point is reached. There is even one with a thermometer to catch the water before the boiling point is reached.  Great for making green or white tea.

A Teapot is a vessel in which the tea is made. You may brew directly in a cup or mug, but I love my teapots. I always warm the pot with boiling water before adding the tea.  After I pour out the heating water, I add the tea to the wet pot.  After a minute or so, I inhale deeply. As the leaves start to open, the aroma from these warm environs is fantastic and hints at the pleasure soon to come.

Use a teaspoon for each cup of tea you want to prepare. My mum used to say, “and one for the pot,” and my husband and I still always add an extra teaspoon of tea when we brew a pot.  A teaspoon is different for each kind of tea, as teas come in many shapes and sizes.  Not to fret; you will soon get accustomed to the amount of tea you prefer as you brew more tea.  Experiment, though it is not an exact science, have fun.

Tea

Steep your tea for the recommended time.  White and green teas are 2 to 3 minutes.  Black tea is 4 to 6 minutes.  Herbals and tisanes are 8 to 10 minutes.  Above all, personal preference is the rule.  While I use a timer in the tasting room to bring garden visitors the perfect taste, at home, I just look at the color of the liquor and guess!

Many teapots have Infusers, mesh baskets to hold the loose tea.  Other pots have Strainers to keep the leaves in the pot and out of your cup.  I like to let the leaves move around in the pot, and with glass pots, it can be quite a show.

Loose leaf tea holds a lot of flavors, and I always recommend multiple steeping. Add more boiling water to the leaves and double the steeping time. Your second cuppa will not be as strong as your first, but I cannot bear the thought of throwing away tea leaves with even a bit of flavor. If you don’t plan to drink multiple cups, put the teapot in your fridge, and enjoy the tea over ice.

This afternoon I am brewing my favorite Oolong and will infuse the leaves at least four times before the leaves are laid to rest in my garden, but that’s another posting.

Sit back and enjoy the perfect cup of tea. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. I hope this helps.

Cheers,
The tea lady

Are you Spellbound?

Are you Spellbound?

While sampling our iced Earl Grey, a customer told me she had read that Bergamot was bad for you.

How can the most popular flavored tea in the world possibly have an unhealthy ingredient for you?  I wanted to prove that theory very wrong and found some interesting facts. Though, I’ll tell you about our iced Earl Grey later.

Bergamot is small, pear-shaped citrus native to southeast Asia.  Now it is commercially grown in Calabria, Italy. The fruit thrives on the Calabrian coast and is the symbol of the region. Like most citrus, I am sure it makes excellent marmalade.  My Key Lime marmalade would be hard to top, but I digress.

Bergamot is used in half of all women’s perfumes.  And Bergamot is used in aromatherapy to treat depression and aid digestion.  I couldn’t find much negative press.

Extract from the bergamot plant was used in sunscreens but was banned in 1995.  Bergamot blocked the absorption of potassium in the intestines.  Why would it be used as a digestive aid then?

I found that various North American plants of the mint family are also called bergamot due to their fragrance. One was used to make a beverage by the American Indian Oswego tribe.  In the 18th century, colonists drank this ‘tea’ during their boycott of British teas!  We won’t get into that now, though!

The worst info I found was that Bergamot had been used in Witchcraft. Maybe it cast a spell on all those people who think it is the best-tasting tea ever! Are you spellbound?

Cheers,
The Tea Lady