At Hope & Glory, we want you to enjoy only the best that tea can be – it has been said that Tea is a drink for the whole day – it awakens the morning, amuses the afternoon and seduces the evening.
For Tea & Tisanes to be enjoyed throughout the whole day, ideally, there are 7 steps –
the must have’s and the must do’s – that can help guide you to your perfect cup tea.
Take note, we’ve already taken care of Steps 1 and 2!
Simply click on one of the seven steps below to view more detail on how to brew that perfect cup of tea!
At Hope & Glory, we go to the ends of the earth to bring you back the very best tea. And the leaves used to make our Hope & Glory Teas are mostly from just one tea garden or tea plantation, and thus called single-estate teas. Thus giving you the purity and enjoyment of a leaf from a single source with great histories to tell! Except for our English Breakfast Tea, which is a blend of a 2nd Flush Assam and Ceylon black teas, but they are also single-origin teas. All are from organically grown tea plants, whose leaves have been hand-picked (and we even know who hand-picked them and when!). One of our sources is a tea garden in Sri Lanka so remote and so ‘untouched’ that you would have to walk a full day to reach the nearest human settlement.
But what about the origins of your tea leaf? All tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis species of the camellia tree, roundly referred to as the ’tea tree’, ‘tea plant’ or ‘tea shrub’. It is native to East Asia, the Indian Sub-continent and Southeast Asia. Why is this important? Because the strength of your brew, its liquor and aroma, will depend on which variety of the tea plant it originated from.
The sinensis and assamica varieties are the tea plants whose leaves are most commonly picked to make tea. Assam tea from Northern India, as the name suggests, is made from the leaves of the assamica variety, which gives it a full-bodied, malty flavour. By contrast, the leaves of the sinensis variety, used to make green tea, originated in China, and produces ‘sweeter, gentler’, more aromatic teas such as green tea and oolong. Darjeeling, the champagne of teas, is also from the assamica variety, but it is grown high up in the Himalayan mountains of Northern India and hence is extremely seasonal, as the tea plants are more exposed to the ravages of nature. Our Hope & Glory Darjeeling teas are ‘second flush’, made from leaves picked during the summer months. The more you get to know the origins of the leaves in your tea, the more you’ll grow to love and appreciate the precious liquid in your cup.
Our premium, speciality Hope & Glory Teas, use only whole leaf teas of the highest quality, what is known as ‘Orange Pekoe’ grade. The larger, or more whole the leaf, the smoother the flavour of your tea, as unlike broken tea leaves or the ‘dust and fannings’ found in teabags, they retain their essential oils longer and release tannins less quickly. For a leaf to be considered ‘Orange Pekoe’ it must have been either one of the two top leaves or the bud of the tea plant. It goes without saying that whole, hand-picked leaf tea is superior to the tea you find in ordinary teabags.
It’s true. Water quality is second only to the quality of your tea leaves. Filtered tap water is best. Good quality bottled spring water -- with a neutral level of acidity or alkalinity, or pH7 -- while excellent for brewing tea, can be expensive. Mineral water is too hard and distilled water too soft, in either case adversely affecting the taste of your tea.
To get the best out of your tea or infusion, like Hope & Glory’s, please pay special attention to the temperature of the water that brews your favourite cuppa! Some teas, usually the more delicate ones, such as green tea or white tea, require lower temperatures than classic black teas (80 degrees vs 100 degrees Celsius respectively). Generally, tisanes or herbal teas are brewed in water that is hot enough to release their flavours, without affecting the delicate nature of these infusions (ideally 85’C)!
The longer it’s brewed, the stronger the tea – some teas & tisanes CAN be steeped (i.e. brewing beyond the ideal brewing time) and some should not to ensure you enjoy the fullness of their flavours! The more time tea is allowed to steep, the weaker its aroma. But it’s not that simple, and when it comes to premium, speciality teas like Hope & Glory Tea, there is a whole lot more to consider.
Different teas & tisanes require different brewing times and temperatures to be the best they can be. To reach their peak, and the balance between flavour and aroma, black whole-leaf teas should ideally brew for 5 minutes at 100 degrees C, the higher temperatures bringing out the robust flavours of the tea. However, tisanes, like our Nurturing Collection, are best brewed at 80-85 C, but for only 2-3 minutes. The more delicate white and green teas as a rule are also boiled at 80 degrees C, with green and yellow teas requiring relatively brief steeping times (1-3 minutes) to release their particular flavour notes.
Scientists in Britain recently announced the findings of research showing the health benefits of brewing certains tea longer. Accordingly, the longer tea is allowed to brew (the optimal time is 5 minutes), the higher the levels of antioxidants and (slow-releasing) caffeine (which recent studies have also shown can be good for you) released.
The vessels tea lovers choose to drink their tea is more often today a matter of personal preference. But there are variations based on culture and traditions. The Chinese traditionally use a porcelain cup, called ‘gai wan’ as part of the tea making art known as ‘Gong Fu Cha’. Porcelain has the benefit of keeping temperatures stable, and in the case of green Chinese tea, not altering its taste.
Indians enjoy their beloved spiced tea, such as Hope & Glory Masala Chai (made with 6 organic spices), in clay pots or small glasses. It does appear that the ever-resourceful Indian tea vendors chose glass receptacles for practical purposes too (could they stack the glasses? How thick should these glasses be to transmit the perfect amount of heat?).
Glass, is much quicker to cool, but it also conducts heat, which is why you might find tisanes and delicate teas served in glass with metal handles or encased in metal holders. This helps to ensure the heat of the water is reduced and does not “burn” the leaf. The relationship or chemistry between the material of the vessel (including its thickness and the shape of the rim) and the temperature, flavour, aroma and finish of the tea has been widely discussed.
Perhaps it’s this step that best highlights the difference between the science of tea (how you should enjoy tea) and the art of tea (how you like to enjoy your tea)!
p.s. there is no wrong or right! This is the beauty of tea – you can make it what you want to be.
Certain teas go well with milk, and they tend to be the stronger, more robust black teas such as Assam and English Breakfast Tea in our Hope & Glory Classic Collection. Milk (ideally cold but again it’s upto each and every tea-lover!) can then be added to the tea, turning the brew into a rich reddish or caramel colour and adding a tinge of sweetness.
Some tea lovers prefer to pour the milk before the tea…which one are you?
Now the truly authentic way to prepare Masala Chai in India is by first heating equal parts milk and water in a pot. And who would dare to ruin Darjeeling Tea with milk? That would be like adding ice or tonic to champagne. Neither do herbal teas or tisanes require milk to be the best they can be.
Sugar and milk were never meant to be added to green tea, which originated in China, but apparently the Chinese who could not afford too much tea diluted what they did have with milk and sugar. Don’t be tempted to add sugar to delicate Darjeeling teas, green teas or tisanes – they won’t then be the best they can be!
If you’d like to learn more about the science of tea versus the art of tea, contact our Tea Master.