September 10 2016
The seasons are turning and there’s a chilly nip in the air, which are two of many wonderful excuses to embrace autumn and make one of the most popular takeaways from our Tea Shop – the Chai Latte. This soul warming cuppa is beautifully simple, and the scent of winter spices drifting through the kitchen is an utter delight. Comfort in a cup!
How to make a chai latte
Ingredients. You will need:
- 1 tablespoon loose leaf Chai tea
- Milk / soya milk / oat milk (almond also works well) to fill 3/4 of a mug
- Honey / brown sugar / agave to taste
- Cinnamon for dusting – you could also grate over a little nutmeg
- 1/4 mug of water just off boiling
- Tea infuser or filter
Spoon the chai tea into your infuser, place into your mug and pour over the hot water until the mug is around 1/4 full. Leave to infuse for around 5 minutes to allow the tea to develop a full, deep flavour.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk in a saucepan until steaming, and use a balloon whisk to create some texture. You could also use a milk steamer if you have one hiding in the cupboard.
- Notes: If using a frothing wand from a home espresso machine hold the milk in the jug at an angle so the milk moves in a circular motion. Keep heating the jug becomes just a little too hot to touch. If bubbles have formed, tab the jug strongly on a board and swirl the jug until the milk becomes smooth and silky.
- Remove the infuser of Chai from the mug and stir in your honey or sugar.
- Slowly pour in the heated milk, stirring as you go.
- Finish with a dusting of cinnamon. Relax, and enjoy.
And that’s all there is to it.
If you’re feeling adventurous you could add a little vanilla extract or vanilla pod to the milk for a Vanilla Chai infusion… Or perhaps a sprinkling of turmeric?
May 13 2016
Cold tea? We’d normally think of this when we return to a mug we made earlier, only to find that our cuppa has turned cold and bitter while we were preoccupied… Or perhaps a pre-bottled sugary supermarket offering? Well, we’d like to tell you how it can be so, so much more – and not only is it wonderfully simple, the cold brew technique opens a entirely different spectrum of taste and experience.
What is cold brew tea?
Brewing tea in cold water – or ice – can yield fantastic results. First popularised in Asia, most notably Japan and Taiwan, cold brew teas are served up and down the country as a refreshing remedy during the muggy, humid summers. One of the many interesting things about cold brew tea is that a very different chemical process takes place to that of hot water. Higher temperatures encourage the leaves to release their many compounds and potentially bitter characters and tannins at speed – however, the cold brew process reveals an entire new world of soft, sweet, grassy flavours with a velvety touch to the palate.
This completely leapfrogs over the need to brew hot tea, cool it, then add something to sweeten it in an attempt to mask the bitter notes of this cooled-down infusion.
Learn more about how temperature affects tea here in our Tea & Temperature Guide
One of our favorite teas here at The Gilded Teapot to use for cold brew Japanese organic Sencha Superior and is beautifully simple to make. The first method is to add 2 tsp of Sencha to your teapot and fill it with ice cubes – once enough of the cubes have melted to fill your cup you can strain the infusion and enjoy (and return to the rest when the rest of the cubes have melted). You can also add a little cold water to encourage the infusion if you’d like your tea a little faster. The other method is to add the tea leaves to cold water and infuse for 5-8 minutes. You can also re-infuse these leaves several times, so you can enjoy your cold brew throughout the day.
Another tea that works particularly well is Hojicha – a blend of lower leaves and tea stalks that have been toasted over charcoal in porcelain pots by a family of growers in Mie, Japan. Rather than a typically ‘green’ and grassy character, the Hojicha gives a fantastic light, coffee/cocoa sweetness. You can brew this in exactly the same way as the Sencha above. It tastes rather similar to the famed Boucha tea from Kanazawa on Japan’s western coast – there is nothing better than diving into a small, shady tea room in Kanazawa’s Chaya district on a hot day and being greeted with a cooling glass of iced Boucha.
And why not experiment? You can even look towards herbal infusions… Peppermint cold brew with slices of fresh lemon and cucumber is a thorough delight first thing in the morning. Or a cold brew Earl Grey (with a little gin) over ice might tickle your fancy?
October 11 2015
We are all creatures of habit, especially when it comes to mornings. Without a routine to start the day, lord knows how we’d get anywhere on time. So, it can be all to easy for things to become a little repetitive, especially when it comes to our morning brews.
‘English Breakfast’ is synonymous with something full bodied and malty, with good tannins, a relatively friendly amount of caffeine, and can sit well with a little milk. If you fancy changing things up a little, or would just like to try something new, here are three teas I’d like to recommend which will help you on your way.
This long, wiry beauty comes from the famed Kenilworth tea garden near Ginigathena in Sri Lanka’s central highland Nuwara Eliya region, planted at around 4,000 ft. This tea, when brewed, gives a stunning deep amber coloured cup, with a smooth character and hints of honey on the aftertaste. I love this without milk and some hot buttered toast. Sri Lankan black teas can sometimes be overlooked for heavier, malty Assams, but I’d like to shine a light on this brilliant tea producing region. To get a little nerdy, it tastes more like a tea from the Kandy region, and is certainly worth trying if you haven’t tasted single estate Sri Lankan teas before.
Your traditional English Breakfast tea will almost certainly have some element of Kenyan tea in its blend. Why? Well, there are very good reasons. For one, the assamica tea plant thrives in the Kenyan climate, and does a great job of producing deep, malty, well structured black teas. Also, being so close to the equator, the area isn’t all that seasonal, which means that the tea crops tend to be very consistent – and blenders like this very much. I’d like to give a special mention to this TGFOP from the Kaimosi tea garden. Grown at around 6,000 ft, this tea has a moreish thickness to it, and pairs very well with milk. It has great strength, but without being too overpowering. A real classic that makes a great start to the day.
Just look at it. Those leaves! A personal favorite of mine, Yunnan Gold will often appear in my mornings. The rich soils of China’s southern Yunnan province can produce some absolute wonders, and this tea is no exception. It has an incredible deep richness to it, with notes of sweet raisin, caramel and a hint of smokiness with a delicious almost buttery quality. Sometimes known as Dian Hong, there is no mistaking this majestic tea. Best enjoyed without milk, but it will take a splash if you are so inclined. And for those who need a little help waking up in the morning, the high proportion of golden tips in this tea gives it a higher caffeine content than those with a lower amount. And fortunately for tea, it naturally contains theanine, which ensures a slow, steady caffeine release through the morning. Delicious.
September 6 2015
A cup of tea simply can’t exist without water – this much we know! As the saying goes, “bread and water can so easily be toast and tea”. So it is entirely reasonable that the quality of the water will have an effect on the taste of your tea. In fact, it is crucial.
For instance, Japan is incredibly fortunate to have outstanding quality water straight from the tap, and it suits their teas perfectly. (As an aside, when we visited the family in Miyazaki last year and sat down with Shigeru, he leaned across the table and the very first thing he said was “what is your water like in England?!” He is fascinated by the chemical make up of water and the effect is has on tea). Whereas our water here in Dorset is at the completely other end of the spectrum to theirs.
Good quality water can elevate your tea into something truly great, revealing the complexities and nuances contained within your infusions. In China, it was said that great tea in ordinary water would become ordinary, and ordinary tea in great water would become better. So we can see how essential water can be in our enjoyment of tea.
Hard Water Here in Dorset we have the pleasure of some incredibly hard water packed full of minerals like calcium and magnesium (where we are is particularly chalky). It is also has a habit of scaling up kettles with limescale. Lovely. Boiling water removes any bacteria etc. but the minerals remain, and can have a large impact on the flavour of your tea. It can be nightmarish battling with calcified hard water while enjoying tea, especially when it comes to lighter infusions. White teas and Japanese green teas especially can suffer terribly as a result.
Soft Water The picture is a little more rosy here. There are fewer minerals to interfere with the flavour of your tea, although it should be noted that higher sodium levels can sometimes be troublesome. The main bit of good news is that you won’t have to de-scale your kettle anywhere near as much as us folks in Dorset, and we’re all secretly very jealous.
Pure water Pure distilled water, contrary to how it may appear, isn’t all that much good either. The complete lack of any minerals at all can leave your tea tasting quite ‘dull’ and flat. We want a little personality, but nothing too overbearing.
So what kind of water is best?
The renowned tea scholar Yu Lu said that water drawn from the centre of a flowing mountain stream is best. Seeing as many of us don’t have some useful mountains nearby, what other options do we have at our daily disposal?
Tap Water If you have hard tap water, an easy fix is to use a regular high street filter (various different kinds on the market). These typically charcoal filters will help remove some of the minerals that have a detrimental effect to the flavour of tea. We’ve had some success with the well known high street brand filter jugs.
If you want to take things to the next level, there is an array of very impressive filtration systems on the market. Reverse osmosis systems are quite amazing. Ideally, the pH you’re looking for with tea is something neutral – around 7 – and typically RO will sit somewhere between 5 and 6, but it is a world better than hard mains water scaling up your kettle and tainting your tea.
Bottled Water As the water in our Dorset area is very badly behaved, whenever we have a tasting session, or are trying a new tea for the first time, we look to bottled water. Mineral water is best avoided (the clue is in the name) so we opt for spring water instead. Just promise to use water from a responsible source and recycle the bottles when you’re finished.
Let’s finish with a good Chinese Proverb:
Water is the mother of tea, teapot its father, and fire the teacher.
More tea guides: