How do you make tea? I think that is the question most asked of a tea sommelier. Part of the answer: it is easy and difficult at the same time. On the one hand, it is a question of combining water and tea and straining and you have tea. Which sounds quite easy. On the other hand: how long do you let it steep, how much tea to use, which flavours do I want to tap from the leaf and how warm should the water be for which method of setting. Wow, that is quite a bit more complicated.
The fact is, everyone can do it. You can compare it with baking a cake. As long as you follow the recipe and pay attention, nothing can go wrong. The oven at the right temperature, weighing the grams of flour with a scales and don’t forget the timer! Eventually it emits delicious fragrance and you see the cake colour and change. We all know that when the batter is still fluid, it isn’t yet done and it still needs longer in the oven. Now back to tea. That is very similar to baking a cake. You have a recipe. I make that. I make it on the basis of the flavours that I want to discover but also from what I have learned from the farmer who grew the tea. Since I buy the tea directly from the farmer, I learn a lot about the tea. Not only how it grows and how it is harvested and processed. I also learn the preferred preparation method there. I take these insights into account when I start to make a recipe. When the shipment comes in I look at the leaves, scent, temperature of the water, method of pouring, whether you can use the leaves more than once, and how does it taste when it cools. When that is all clear, considerable recipe testing follows. Sometimes a tenth of a gram makes a difference in flavour so I follow the recipe carefully every time.
And, let us be clear, if the tea smells of rocket or buttercups, that comes on the tins in which we eventually pack the tea. And now, where do you make the tea? Tea needs a lot of room. If we go back to the example of cake. If you put the batter in a miniature cake pan it can never expand and become tasty, this is precisely the same with tea leaves. That’s why a tea egg or teabag is not an ideal way to make delicious tea. We find the Tea Maker handy. The tea leaves can unfold and when the tea is made you can easily strain them by putting it on a glass or pot. There are sorts of tea that you can serve more than once and then you just pour water on the leaves again.
After making tea it can just be put into the dishwasher or you can rinse it with hot water and use it again. Naturally on farms in Japan or China they use small earthenware teapots and pans instead of a Tea Maker. My kitchen at home is filled with different pots to make tea. For the best of both worlds we recommend a convenient method and a recipe that comes as close as possible to that used by the farmer and local “connoisseurs.” That combination should result in a cup of tea for which the farmer, maker, drinker and I can all be very proud!
Set the kettle on the fire!