After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. It was China which first introduced tea to the rest of the world. Whether it is black or green, plain or highly spiced, tea is an important part of the meal in most Asian countries. In many cultures, tea is often had at high class social events, such as afternoon tea, or tea parties, and for many a day does not begin until they have a sip of tea.
Four types of tea exist on the market, black tea, oolong tea, green and white tea all which come from the same bush but have undergone different fermentation process. The term "herbal tea" usually refers to an infusion or of leaves, flowers, fruit, herbs or other plant material that contains no Camellia sinensis.
Types of Tea available
Black Tea: mainly produced in India, China and Sri Lanka, black tea leaves undergo fermentation which gives them their characteristic full, aromatic flavour and rich colour and strength.
Oolong Tea: semi-fermented oolong teas are stronger than green teas and milder than black. Often scented with jasmine, gardenia or rose petals and are then known as pouchong.
Green Tea: served with many Asian meals and believed to aid digestion. It is always made weak: only 1tsp of tea for the whole pot. Sugar and milk are never added.
White tea: made with leaves that are processed in a manner to let them wilt slightly and loose the "grassy" taste of green tea, while undergoing minimal oxidation.
Brewing Perfect Cup of Tea
- Bring cold water to boil rapidly to prevent water being de-aerated.
- Use a china or glazed earthenware teapot that will retain the heat, and warm it by swirling a little hot water around the side and emptying it out.
- Measure the tea carefully, 1 heaped tsp leaves for each cup and 1 for the pot.
- For the old adage ‘bring your teapot to the kettle’ to ensure the water is still on the boil when it is poured onto the tea leaves. This will agitate the leaves and release the full flavour of the tea.
- Put the lid on the tea pot and let the leaves infuse for 5 minutes.
- If using milk, add to the cup before the tea, the scalding tea will slightly cook the milk and blend the flavours.
- Stir the pot and pour tea through a strainer into each cup. Add sugar to taste and a slice of lemon if desired.
Serves 6 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients: 10 sprigs fresh mint, plus extra for garnish, 3 tsp green tea, 3 tbps sugar (or more to taste), 4 cups water
Method: Boil the water and pour a small amount in the teapot, swishing it around to warm the pot.
Combine the mint and green tea and sugar in the teapot, and then fill it with the rest of the hot water.
Let the tea brew for three minutes. Fill just one glass with the tea (A shot-glass is close to the slender glasses used in Morocco), then pour it back in the pot. Repeat. This helps to dissolve and distribute the sugar. Pour the tea. You want nice foam on the tea so always pour with the teapot a high distance above the glasses. If you do not have at least a little foam on the top of the first glass, then pour it back into the teapot and try again until the tea starts to foam up nicely. Garnish with the remaining sprigs of mint
Masala Spice Tea
Serves 4 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients: 4 tsp loose tea, usually black, 1 piece of dry ginger, 3 cardamom pods, crushed 3 whole cloves, 1 piece of cinnamon stick, Milk and sugar to taste
Method: Chop up ginger into fine pieces, and break up cinnamon stick. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then add tea leaves and all the spices. Let everything brew at boiling for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from heat, and then let it brew at room temperature for another minute. Strain out the tea and pieces of spice. Serve hot and fragrant, with only a touch of milk or sugar.
Serves 1 Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients: Use one tea bag, or 2 - 4 grams of tea,* per cup
Method: Soak the loose tea leaves in hot water, and drain after 2 minutes.
Fill a kettle with cold water and bring to a boil. Pour the heated water over the tea bag or tea, and allow it to steep for up to 3 minutes. If using a tea bag, remove the bag or sieve out the tea leaves.
Serves 3 Cooking Time: 1hr 40 minutes
Ingredients: Kashmiri tea leaves 2 tsp, cardamom ground 3, milk 2 cups, Water 2 glass
Baking powder 1/2 tsp, Pistachio crushed 2 tbsp, Sugar and Salt as desired.
Method: Boil 2 glass of water in a steel pan. Put tea leaves and baking powder, cover with lid and let it cook for 1 hour (do not open the lid during this time).After 1 hour add cardamoms. Cook for a further 15 to 20mins, the tea will reduce a lot. Now strain the tea leaves. Turn the heat on high, and in the strained tea water add 1 glass of chilled water. With a ladle fill it up with the tea and drop it back in the pan, do this again and again until foam appears. When the tea turns to a rosy pink colour add milk and pistachio. Put sugar and salt as desired and serve immediately.
NOTE: Use ONLY steel utensils otherwise the tea will turn out wrong.