I came into tea drinking later in life. Having pretty much always foregone coffee (I’ve got an allergy/intolerance to the beans themselves) it was only when I’d be invited out for coffees on a regular basis that I needed to order something off the menu to avoid looking like I didn’t belong.
Enter my love affair with tea.
Drinking tea is just such a, well, refined thing to do. You can have a cup in the morning, afternoon or evening and it’s always acceptable. You can steep it to your preference, add sugar or milk. You can have a kettle to yourself or you can share with friends. I’m preaching to the converted though, aren’t I?
As I’ve been browsing the fall fashion magazines, one of the things I like to read is what the celebrities on the covers did during the shoots near the Editor’s section. I like knowing if they brought their dog, latest boyfriends or newest trendy boots to the shoots and I also love knowing what they ate during their time with the magazine (I actually now purchase and snack on cut up pineapple thanks to one article and adore frozen blueberries as dessert). They were probably all fabricated, I know, but they still intrigue me. This season it seemed like celebrities everywhere were drinking Kusmi teas. Naturally, I had to see what all the buzz was about.
Founded in 1867, a Russian man by the name of Pavel Michailovitch Kousmichoff founded a teahouse in Russia and when things started to look desperate in wartime Russia, he moved his business primarily to Paris where he set up Maison Kusmi-Thé. Parisian tea? How chic. I can see why celebrities are all over this brand.
I recently found a store while on vacation which stocked a great assortment of Kusmi teas and I knew that it was the time to take advantage of their selection (and a sale!). Take advantage I did.
I got myself some Jasmine Green Tea, Almond Green Tea, Rose Green Tea, Four Red Fruit Tea (Black tea with cherry, strawberry, raspberry and currant) and their “Wellness” Tea Kit including Boost, Algothe, Love, Be Cool and infamous Detox tea. I practically couldn’t resist the green teas in the tins- they are gorgeous.
And the million dollar question – are they worth it? YES! The green teas are fresh – as a green tea should be – but with delicious hints of the additional flavours. The detox teas literally made me feel better inside and out and it has lemongrass in it which I love.
So go get yourself some of this delicious tea! Once you have, here are Kusmi’s tips on preparing a great cup of tea:
1. The water quality
It is essential to choose fresh water with a low mineral content. The ideal is to use spring water or perhaps filtered water. It is also best to boil it in a kettle, because water heated in a pan can easily be tainted by the taste of the food previously cooked in this receptacle.
2. The water temperature
The golden rule about water temperature is never use boiling water on the tea, whatever kind of tea you are making.
Green Teas require water at 70°C and black teas require water at 85-90°C.
These days you can get kettles which enable you to choose your water temperature.
3. The teapot
If you are making your tea in a teapot, it is advisable to scald it first, i.e. pour boiling water into the pot, rinse it and throw the water away.
There are two kinds of teapots:
- Terracotta teapots which are said to have a “memory” because they retain the flavour of the tea already made in them. It’s best to have a different teapot for each kind of tea, so that you don’t mix up the flavours. After use, the teapot should merely be rinsed out, without scrubbing it or using any detergent, and then left to dry with the lid off. This kind of teapot is very suitable for black teas and Oolong teas;
- Ceramic, metal, porcelain teapots, which can be washed in hot water (without detergent). These are more versatile because they don’t absorb the flavours of the teas.
4. The amount of tea
Custom dictates that 4 grams are sufficient for one cup. But the amount is partly a matter of preference. In the case of Assam tea, which is naturally very robust, you might want to reduce the strength and brew 3 grams instead of 4.
5. The brewing time
This is a very important step in the art of tea-making. In fact, the brewing time varies depending on the type of tea. An over-brewed black tea will develop a bitter taste whilst an under-brewed white tea will be flat and insipid.
Black teas are normally brewed for 2-3 minutes, green teas for 3 – 4 minutes. It is a good idea to check the brewing time before making the tea, because some teas need to be infused for very specific times: for example, Jade Pearl is left to infuse for 7 – 20 minutes, whilst Oolong tea will need 5 – 7 minutes for its bouquet to develop fully.
Brewing is normally done with a lid on, so that the tea retains all its aromas.