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Brew basics from first family of tea

Tea expert Stephen Twining of Twinings, London decodes India’s love affair with the classic cuppa chai.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2012 14:17 IST

We all know what a good cup of tea tastes like, but it takes years of experience to taste tea like a professional. And Stephen Twining, a 10th generation descendant of Twinings, the famous tea family in the UK, can teach you a thing or two.

Stephen believes that the way you brew your tea is a personal choice. “People impose their own style,” he says. “It’s about colour, aroma and taste. Culturally, Indians tend to put everything inside the teapot and boil it all up. And that has led to one of the great differences in the type of tea consumed here. The addition of natural spices like cardamom also makes it very interesting.”

Here are some of Stephen’s tips on how to make tea-drinking a better experience.It is important to use fresh cold water and then boil it till it reaches the right temperature. Different teas need to be brewed at different temperatures. For instance, in the case of black tea, it’s best served boiling hot. For green tea, let the water boil, then cool it for five minutes before you dip the tea bag in.

You shouldn’t reheat tea while the leaves are still in the pot. It will over-brew as the leaves tend to dissipate flavour at rising temperatures. If you want to keep it hot, take out the tea leaves.

While choosing the amount of tea to add to the teapot, keep in mind the old rule — one tsp for every drinker and one bonus for the pot.If you drink your tea with milk, add it right before the tea comes to boil.

There isn’t a lot of difference in flavour between loose tea and a tea bag. “Just like the quality of wine isn’t affected by a cork or screw cap. What matters is the skills of the wine maker and quality of grapes. It’s all about convenience,” says Stephen.

Darjeeling Tea with:
English Cheddar and Pineapple, Ciabatta
Smoked Turkey and Caramelised Onion
Curry marinated Chicken Puffs

Green Tea with:
Tea Poached Chicken Sandwich, Focaccia Bread
Sun Dried Tomato, Broccoli, Pitted Olives Quiche

Earl Grey with:
Scones with Crème Chantilly and Homemade Strawberry Jam
Green Tea Tiramisu
Earl Grey Tea Poached Pears with Sherry Zabaglione