Samurai means “to serve.”
Tamurai means “to serve through tea.”
AT TAMURAI TEA OUR GOAL IS TO HONOR THE SPIRIT OF HEALTH AND WELL-BEING.
Making the Perfect Cup
No matter how expensive the tea you buy, if you brew it wrong, it’s awful.
This is a lesson many beginners learn the hard way. Most people who claim they “don’t like the taste” were repelled by an incorrectly brewed tea. This can create a terrible misconception that can last a lifetime Fortunately, this nightmare be easily avoided with better brewing techniques.
Most restaurants, cafes and households that serve tea try to cut corners by simply throwing all teas into the same temperature water and serving visitors without any direction. This makes about as much sense as opening a premium wine bar and serving white wines at room temperature, or opening a prime steakhouse and serving all steaks well-done.
Steeping good tea does not take a PhD, but it is also not as simple as chucking it into boiling water and letting it stew. To get that perfect cup of tea involves very a few simple steeping methods. In fact, there are nearly as many brewing methods as there are teas. In this lesson, we’ll go through the most effective and functional ways to infuse most any tea.
The trick to steeping tea correctly comes in five parts: water, weight, temperature, time and equipment.
Perfect water isn’t necessary, but if your water “tastes funny”, so will your tea. If your water tastes great (or does not have a taste at all depending on your perspective), you should be in pretty good shape. Great water will have around 150 parts per million (PPM) of balanced mineral content. For perspective, extremely hard water in some major U.S. cities is around 900+ PPM. To correct this issue, a conscientious tea shop will usually use a rather expensive reverse osmosis filtration system and a calcium carbonate cartridge to introduce the proper amount of mineral content to the water. At home, you can use a simple carbon filter water pitcher to remove the extra mineral, as well as any contaminants like chlorine (unless you enjoy tea that tastes like a swimming pool).
Water that is too hard (too many minerals) will extract extra astringency from your tea and give you a harsh brew. Water that is too soft will not extract enough of the polyphenols that deliver astringency, health benefits AND taste… so you’ll have a weak, fuzzy-muddy cup. Fresh water is also best. When water boils, oxygen is released. The Chinese call water that has been boiled “dead water”. You can’t get the best cup of tea from water that has been repeatedly re-boiled.
Using too much tea will make your tea bitter and your wallet empty. Too little tea will bring a weak cup and a sense of longing. The volume that is considered the “golden ratio” of leaves to water is one teaspoon of most tea leaves (approx. 2 grams) per 8 ounce cup of water. Please note this is for a traditional 8 ounce cup. Most mugs are nearly twice that at 10 to 12 ounces. Here’s where it gets a little complicated. A large, open leaf tea like a White tea or some Oolongs may require two or more teaspoons to equal 2 grams. Broken or tightly rolled teas like gunpowder may pack as many as 3 grams of tea into a single teaspoon. At the end of the day perfection is less important than keeping an eye on the leaf size and adjusting based on your taste preferences.
Some like it hot! The ideal temperature depends on the tea. Use boiling water (212�F) when preparing Black, dark Oolong and Herbal teas. These teas are tough, they can take the burn, and even require it in order to break down the leaf and release the flavor and antioxidants. However, it’s important to use cooler water when steeping more delicate teas, such as Green, green Oolong and White teas. Water that is too hot will cause a delicate tea to taste overly bitter or astringent. Water that is too cool will cause a tea to taste flavorless and weak. If you don’t have a thermometer or a kettle that lets you gauge temperature, you’ll typically find that boiling water that is allowed to sit for 5 minutes will have dropped to roughly 180�F.
They say that “time heals all wounds.” However, it also makes most teas turn bitter. The rule of thumb is 3-5 minutes for most black teas, depending on your preference for strength. Any longer, and they’ll become overly astringent and puckery. Dark Oolong and White teas, on the other hand, are much more forgiving. These teas will taste best when steeped for 3-5 minutes but will still be drinkable if steeped a little longer. For light Oolong and green teas, a little TLC must be employed, steeping for only 2 minutes – 3 if you’re looking for a strong cup.
The proper equipment is also very important in the steeping process. When hot water is added, tea leaves can unfurl up to 5 times their dry size. So to make a great tea you need to give your leaves some leg room. If using an infuser basket, use as broad and deep of a basket as possible for the pot or cup you’re brewing in (some barely extend a quarter of the way below the surface of the water). As mentioned in another lesson, commercial tea bags are not recommended, due to inadequate expansion room and low quality tea.
Which brings us to our final point. It almost goes without saying that, to make the perfect cup of tea, there is one more prerequisite: good tea. Buy the best that is within your budget. Keep it fresh, too; don’t stockpile tea for next holiday season’s company! Enjoy your fresh tea within 6 months to a year. It will make a noticeable difference.
The perfect cup is out there… just brew it.
Health Benefits of Tea
Whether it’s drunk hot or cold, did you know that tea is one of the best things you can drink?
It is the second most consumed beverage after water.
Tea drinking has been claimed to have health benefits for centuries, but only in recent years have doctors conducted studies to see if the claims are justified.
Recent research has indicated the health benefits of tea as part of a healthy diet and life style can help maintain a healthy body including a healthy heart.
The value of tea may be due, in part, to its antioxidants. Like fruit and vegetables, tea is rich in antioxidants (in tea these are known as flavonoids). Antioxidants in the diet may help the body in its management of free radicals – highly reactive substances capable of causing damage to body cells.
If that is not enough to convince you that tea is worth trying, take a look at some of these fast facts. The health benefits of tea, both Green and black teas offer the same health benefits. Many people don’t realize that black and green tea contain virtually the same amount of antioxidants. In fact, whether hot or cold, bottled or using a bag, tea is probably the healthiest drink around.
Drinking four cups of tea is re-hydrating – not dehydrating as is often said – unless the amount of tea consumed at one sitting contains more than 250 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of five cups of tea).
According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, tea provides a few tips to get the most out of tea-drinking:
Drinking a cup of tea a few times a day to absorb antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds. In green-tea drinking cultures, the usual amount is three cups per day.
Allow tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins.
The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds.
Tea can impede the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables. Adding lemon or milk or drinking tea between meals will counteract this problem.
Tea contains fluoride, which has a well-established link to dental health. Studies have shown that tea can provide up to 70% of the fluoride you need. It’s also thought that antioxidants in tea may help inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause plaque.
Tea without milk and sugar has virtually no calories. And in hot weather, it seems refreshing. This may be because it can raise your body temperature and momentarily cause an increase in perspiration, which cools the skin.
Teas such as Lipton are made from tea leaves rich in natural antioxidants, plus other good stuff your body loves. As for the taste, with a range covering hot and cold teas, and green and black varieties, it boosts your taste buds, as well as your well being.
Does Tea Contain More Caffeine Than Coffee?
Tea has only 1/2 to 1/3 as much caffeine as coffee when you compare them cup for cup. In dry form, coffee actually has less then tea in dry form.
Next time you brew that pot of coffee, consider how much less your brewed cup of tea will have. Unless of course you consume your tea dry.
(Ref.: Caffeine by The Institute of Food Technologists’ Expert Panel on Food Safety & Nutrition.)
What Determines Caffeine Levels?
The amount of caffeine in tea depends on a number of things, the variety of tea leaf, where it is grown, size and cut of the tea leaf, and how you brew or steep as well as how long. Studies from the Caffeine Institute also show that caffeine levels can vary depending on the location of the tea leaf on the plant.
(Ref.: Caffeine by The Institute of Food Technologists’ Expert Panel on Food Safety & Nutrition, All About Tea by William H. Ukers)
|Type of Tea||Avg. Per Serving||Range||Per Ounce*||Carreine|
|Milligrams per serving|
|Black Tea||40||25-55||4.||naturally Caffeinated|
|Oolong Tea||30||12-55||3.75||naturally Caffeinated, somewhat less than Black tea.|
|Green Tea||20||8-30||2.5||naturally Caffeinated, somewhat less than Oolong Tea.|
|White Tea||16||6-25||2.||naturally Caffeinated, somewhat less than Green Tea.|
|Decaffeinated Tea||2||1-4||.5||Caused from removing most of the caffeine from Black, Oolong, Green, or White tea|
|Herbal “tea”||0||0||0||naturally caffeine free.|
Tea for Beauty
Do not toss your morning tea bag, put them in a plastic baggy in the refrigerator and use them:
- On your eyes to relieve puffiness or freshen them up after a late night.
- Brunettes, use a rinse of black tea for rich dark shine to your hair.
- Blondes can use a rinse of Chamomile tea to bring out your natural highlights
- For a temporary look of summer sun kissed skin without the UV rays, you can brew up a bath of plain black tea and soak for 20 minutes.
- After washing your face, uses a cool tea rinse to help with acne. Tea has great astringent properties.
Cooking with Teas
You can use herbal teas for a unique delicious and healthy seasonings.
You can use the tea dry or brew it to liquid form to use as a marinade. The good news about using herbal tea for seasoning, there are no calories or fat and tea is cheaper then most spices that you buy at the store.
Herbal teas are not actually from tea leaves, but are a blend of herbs an spices that create wonderful aromas and colors.
When you use true teas in cooking, they are made from dried tea leaves, and should be brewed and used in liquid form with your recipes.
The Legendary Origins of Tea
The story of tea began in ancient China over 5,000 years ago.
According to legend, Shen Nung, an early emperor was a skilled ruler, creative scientist and patron of the arts. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution.
One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the near by bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid was infused into the water.
As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. And so, according to legend, tea was created.
This myth maintains such a practical narrative, that many mythologists believe it may relate closely to the actual events, now lost in ancient history.
Simmer tea leaves in your soup
Add a hefty pinch of tea leaves, along with all of your other ingredients, to your soup stock. Simmer until done, then strain. “I particularly like black and green tea for this,” Henderiks says. Check out the amazing health benefits of black tea.
Smoke your foods and meats
Gita Kulinitch Studio/shutterstock
Burning tea leaves to smoke foods such as meats, poultry, fish, and veggies is a classic Chinese technique that adds great smoky flavor. You can use any tea leaves for this, though chai, jasmine, and green tea are always great options. The process is simple: Line a wok or deep pan with a few long layers of foil, as you will need the extra to cover the food and seal in the smoke. Combine equal parts tea leaves and uncooked rice (try jasmine rice) and make a pile in the base of the wok. Drizzle a little water over the mixture because you want it to smoke, not burn. You can throw in citrus rinds, cinnamon sticks, star anise, nutmeg, or any whole spice for added flavor. Keep it going over medium heat for about five minutes or until it just starts to smoke; then place a wire rack in the pan on top of the tea mixture. Be sure it is about one-and-a-half inches above the tea so the smoke can circulate, cover with excess foil or a lid, and cook about 10 minutes for poultry and about 5 minutes for meat, fish, and veggies. Remove it from the heat and let it continue to cook until done.
Mix up your marinades
Brew up your favorite flavor of tea and use as the liquid for a marinade, like black cherry berry, cinnamon and cardamom, or ginger; then add some oil and your favorite spices, herbs and flavoring, and you have yourself a delicious marinade. “Make two times as much marinade as you need using one part tea, one part good quality oil, and some aromatics like herbs, spices, garlic, ginger, chilies and onion, a pinch of salt and any other flavor-boosting ingredients you like,” says Henderiks. “Don’t get hung up on measurements of the additions. Use what you love and however much you like. Reserve half to marinate meat, poultry, pork, veggies, tofu, fish, whatever—and use the other half for dressing after it’s cooked.” To use in a dressing, take the reserved marinade and add a delicious, natural thickener like avocado, yogurt, pureed fruit, mustard, nuts or tofu, and throw it all in a blender. Place in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge up to a week.
Amp up your casseroles
Grab a freezer-safe small container, label with “brewed tea” and get it started with your first batch of used tea leaves. When the container is full, defrost, do a quick chop-chop and add about a tablespoon to casseroles, soups, and stews and such for a boost of delicious nutrition. The leaves have a strong but delicious flavor, so use a small amount at first and build as needed.