Monday, May 5, 2008

Making Iced Tea - It's All About Time and Temperature

The pleasure of drinking gourmet iced tea is enhanced when you match the correct water temperature and the right length of steeping time with the finest tea.

For ordinary supermarket brands of teabag tea or even loose leaf tea, hot to almost boiling will work fine for tea strong enough for iced tea. Simply use two bags or two teaspoons of tea for eight ounces of water, allow it to steep three to five minutes, then decant the leaves (or remove the teabags.) Allow the tea to cool before refrigerating, covered, until ready to use.

Make extra tea each time you make iced tea and pour the extra amount in ice cube trays. This is very helpful in chilling the tea without diluting it as iced water cubes can do. Fruit juices like lemon or orange are delicious in iced teas. If you want to pretty up the cubes, place one or two fresh berries like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or a de-stemmed strawberry in each cube. Slices of stone fruit like nectarines or peaches are great, too. Mint leaves are delightful to add to the cubes or to garnish a tall glass of your favorite iced tea.

For gourmet level teas, which offer infinitely more complex flavor and more variety, the same steps are taken but with two important changes. Temperature must be adjusted to the type of tea, and steeping time differs for each type: whites, greens, oolongs, blacks, or herbals.

Whites and greens are very delicate in taste and overly hot water can literally scorch them rendering them bitter. Use under boiling water for whites and greens, about 180 to 190°F and steep up to three minutes.

Oolongs can withstand hotter water, from 190 to 195°F for three minutes for light, greenish oolongs and up to seven minutes for darker oolongs.

Black teas can withstand temperatures from 205 to 212°F for three to five minutes.

Herbals can easily be infused with boiling water, 212°F for three to five minutes without any bitterness.

For gourmet teas from Zarafina temperature is critical, especially for high quality, outstanding gourmet teas. Even a few degrees of too hot a temperature or a minute too long in stepping time will render the tea bitter. Conversely, under steeping can make the tea tastes weak and flavorless. Too low a temperature is not a problem, but longer steeping times elicit both fragrance and flavor.

To take the guesswork out of steeping your tea, consider an automatic system that does all the thinking for you. You can literally set the temperature and time by indicating the type of tea (white, green, oolong, black or herbal) and indicate the tea strength. The machine will steep your tea according to your directions; need to watch a clock. No thinking, just pleasurable tea drinking.

The Zarafina Hot Tea Maker Suite is an automatic tea making system that automatically adjusts the water temperature, steeping time, and tea strength for both loose leaf tea or tea bags. The Tea Maker Suite includes a 16-ounce ceramic teapot, two 8-ounce mugs, and a serving tray. To make iced tea with the Tea Maker, steep as usual, allow the tea to cool slightly, add ice, and serve. Avoid watering down your tea by adding ice cubes made of tea or juice.

SUMMARY: The pleasure of drinking gourmet iced tea is enhanced when you match the correct water temperature and appropriate steeping time with the right tea. Whites and greens require under boiling water, from 180 to 190°F; oolongs need hotter water, from 190 to 195°F; blacks need from 205 to 212°F, and herbals can be infused with boiling water, 212°F To take the guesswork out of determining the right water temperature and steeping time, consider an automatic system that does all the thinking for you and, best of all, results in a fabulous pot of tea served hot or cooled for iced tea pleasure. Consider the Zarafina Tea Maker Suite has an adjustable tea strength setting from mild to strong, steeps both loose leaf and bagged tea, and temperature and steeping time are adjustable.

Zarafina means heavenly, like a special friend who greets you with kindness and warmth, and a cup of the world’s finest teas: White Needle, Green Anji, Wuyi Oolong Rock, Golden Monkey, and Osmanthus, a caffeine-free herbal. Each of our teas is the finest example of its category: white, green, oolong, black, and herbal.

Steeping these fine gourmet teas deserves attention to water temperature and time and we make this as simple as pressing a button with the Zarafina Hot Tea Maker Suite It steeps whites and greens with cooler water, oolongs, blacks and herbals with hotter water, automatically and takes either loose leaves or teabags. And, it can adjust the strength of your tea in the cup from mild to strong. The result is 16 ounces of pure nectar, tea the way the gods meant it to taste.

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