Tag: Goldsmith Teas

Black Tea Primer

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To celebrate National Hot Tea Month, I invited Will from Goldsmith Teas to come back and do a black tea tasting. We had a lovely afternoon tasting and talking about tea accompanied with some lemon scones and banana cake (thank you Carol!). Will brewed four different black teas: Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Royal Golden Tippy Orthodox and Ruby 18. The first two teas I was familiar with and are common teas, the other two I had never heard of, but boy were they worth tasting!

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Black Tea Basics

There are over 250 tea varietals grown primarily in Asia: China, Taiwan and India. These teas become either green or black teas depending on how they are treated after picking. Other factors that affect taste and color are the land/soil, rainfall and altitude/temperature where the teas are grown.

The process of making black teas is labor intensive. The leaves are left to wither in the sun for about a half a day. After which they are subjected to a mixture of air and intense heat (temperatures range from 400 to 1000 degrees F), from one up to as long as five minutes. In between firings, the leaves are culled and twisted. This process can be repeated as many as twenty times, depending on the desired outcome.

In addition to drying and infusing the leaves with a smokiness, the intense heat activates the Maillard reaction, where the natural glucose interacts with the protein in the tea leaves and creates a sweet, and in some instances, a caramel-like flavor.

Darjeeling Tea

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Darjeeling tea comes from the Darjeeling region in India. This tea stands up well on its own (does not require milk, sugar or lemon). It has a light amber color and and a medium flavor.

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 English Breakfast Tea

English Breakfast tea is a blended tea that can be sourced from two or three continents. The leaves are curled, rolled and crushed. It is a stronger tea blended to go well with milk and sugar. The Goldsmith Tea’s English Breakfast tea is a blend of four teas Each tea house has its own formula of blends that they strictly adhere to for consistency in flavor.

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This is one of my long standing favorites and I have it in both the loose tea leaves and sachets.

Royal Golden Tippy Orthodox

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This is a relatively new tea varietal that comes from Kenya. The leaves are long and gently twisted with a golden hue – the result of the Maillard reaction. The tea has an inherent sweetness and as one taster commented, a bit of citrus.

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Ruby 18

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Ruby 18 comes Taiwan. The long, large leaves are traditionally twisted by hand, fired, culled and twisted again.

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After the first brew, you can still see the slightly curled edges of the leaves. The next brew opened up the leaves and you can see the serrated edge. Look at the size of these leaves!

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 Black Tea Brewing Basics

Will brews the loose tea in a small covered cup with a tiny slit on the top of the cup for pouring. This provides room for the tea leaves to absorb the water and expand. The best way to optimize flavor and color. I find that the t-sac (http://www.amazon.com/T-Sac-Filter-Disposable-Infuser-Capacity/dp/B001BLCIN4) I use doesn’t have that much room and some of the larger leafed teas don’t expand as much as his. This does affect flavor and I’m now using a teapot with a removable infuser with much better results. He recommends brewing the tea for three to five minutes, he brewed these teas for four minutes.

Check out our green tea tasting from August last year!

How to Brew Hot Black Tea

Temperature is important to a well-brewed cup of tea. After bringing the water to a boil, pour a cupful and let the water cool slightly to 208ºF for black teas. Measure the tea, fill the tea filter and steep, also known as the “agony of the leaf,” Steep black teas for three to five minutes; longer brewing only increases unpleasant tannins

Will also recommends reinfusing the same tea two or three times. Though the tea may not be as strong, there is still good flavor left.

How to Brew Iced Black Tea

There are two methods to choose from to make iced tea, hot or cold.

Hot Brewed Iced Black Tea

Brew the teas as instructed above doubling the amount of tea to two ounces for every eight ounces of water and then pour over ice.

Cold Brewed Iced Black Tea

Use one heaping teaspoon for every eight ounces of cold water
and let sit eight hours.

Thank you Will for another fact-filled afternoon of tea tasting!

Contact Will at: http://goldsmithteas.com/contact/

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Green Tea Primer

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Will Wertheim, the son of my dear friends Carol and Les, took an unexpected path when he branched out into the study of tea after finishing college majoring in environmental science. Will began studying with tea master Michael Wong of China Town in 2010. He went on to work at Chelsea Market & Tea, helped open the Harney & Son’s New York store, and was a wholesale rep for Ito En, a Japanese tea company. Will decided to go into the tea business and created an online site to sell fine teas  Therein the founding of, Goldsmith Teas, named after his maternal grandparents. Will now lives in Brooklyn and travels the world in search of excellent teas.

How to Brew Hot Tea

Here’s a primer on properly brewing tea. Temperature is important to a well-brewed cup of tea. Bring the water to a boil, pour a cupful and let the water cool slightly to 208ºF for black teas, slightly more, 195ºF, for oolong teas and 175ºF for green teas, before infusing. Will suggests using an unbleached tea filter for brewing, such as these sold by arborteas.com. Measure the tea, fill the tea filter and steep, also known as the “agony of the leaf,” for 30 to 60 seconds for most green teas; a longer brew adds caffeine, not flavor. Steep black teas for three to five minutes; longer brewing only increases unpleasant tannins.

Will recommends reinfusing the same tea filter two or three times. Though the tea may not be as strong,  good flavor remains.

Two Methods to Brew Iced Tea

Hot Brewed Iced Tea

Brew the teas as instructed above doubling the amount of tea to two ounces for every eight ounces of water and then pour over ice.

Cold Brewed Iced Tea

Use one heaping teaspoon for every eight ounces of cold water and let sit eight hours.

Green Tea Tasting

Tea #1 Jade Oolong

Oolong teas originated in China and are also grown in Taiwan. Will purchased this batch of tea leaves while on tour directly from the Taiwanese farmer!

Once the tea is harvested it’s left one day to wither, but not dry. The leaves must retain moisture as each leaf is raveled and unraveled up to 30 times. Notice how finely the leaves are raveled and rolled into these small balls. Each infusion, continues to unfurl the leaves.

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Will used a Yixing Pottery teapot to brew the Jade Oolong, which contributes flavor to the tea.

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He placed the tea leaves in the pot, poured hot water into the pitcher and let it sit for to cool slightly before adding to the pot and let it brew for 30 seconds.

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The first thing I noticed was an aroma I didn’t immediately recognize. After a couple of sips and a few more sniffs, I finally identified a clove-like flavor with a slight tongue numbing effect. The tea is grown at the top of mountains with lots of cloud coverage and lack of sunshine and the struggle for sunshine produces more chlorophyll and polyphenols resulting in the numbing sensation.

This is the tealeaf after the first steeping; the leaf is unrolled, but still raveled.

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Will opened the leaf for viewing (those are Mom Carol’s scrumptious orange butter cookies in the corner).

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The Jade Oolong was brewed four separate times, the clove aroma faded quickly, but the numbing quality was still apparent.

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(On the bottom is the tealeaf before brewing, right above, the first brew and
above that the second brew – notice how the leaf has expanded.)

The fourth and final brew was tannic, something that doesn’t appeal to me, but look at how the tealeaves have completely opened.

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Jade Oolong speeds up your metabolism and creates a “tea drunk” affecting both the mind and the body. Drink enough and you reach a meditative state of awareness and tranquility. Too much, however, can upset the stomach. A little nosh with the Jade Oolong is recommended. Those cookies did the trick!

Tea #2 Amber Oolong

This green tea is briefly fired, which “singes” the edges of the leaf but doesn’t completely dry the tea. The firing creates the Maillard Reaction, a reaction caused by the heating process and the reaction of the sugar and amino acids in the leaves. The easiest way to describe this reaction is to think of the color and flavor created when you toast bread.

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(Bottom leaf is Jade Oolong. Top leaf is Amber Oolong –
notice the slightly browned edges.)

The firing process gives the tea an earthier taste than the Jade Oolong (same tea leaves, just a different treatment). This tea also creates a numbness of the tongue due to the same growing conditions. Will uses a Gaiwan pot to make the Amber Oolong.

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After a couple of infusions, there was an interesting caramel flavor, brought on by the Maillard Reaction, and slightly floral aroma in the bottom of the empty cup.

Tea #3 Jasmine Pearl

This tea is from China and is rolled into pretty little orbs of green and white. The stems and buds, the white portion of the tea plant, are included. The harvested tea leaves are placed on a shirt lined with jasmine petals and rolled to infuse the jasmine perfume into the leaves. The jasmine petals are then removed; the remaining pollen contributes added flavor.

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Brew for three minutes. The first infusion is very fragrant and the jasmine taste is strong. With multiple infusions, the color of the water gets lighter but the jasmine flavor is still apparent.

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We had a lovely and informative two-hour tasting party. It was a pleasure to talk with Will about tea. He’s very passionate and knowledgeable about the topic.

Contact Will at: http://goldsmithteas.com/contact/

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