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Talking Tea With Stephen Twining

by Eugene Ng 21 Nov 2016
Talking Tea With Stephen Twining

International tea appreciation

Tea drinking around the world is definitely different – different tastes, teas, preferences, styles of making it, pairing it, and drinking it! It would be a very dull world if we all drank English Breakfast tea or finished with a cup of Chamomile; I love the fact that people take teas to their hearts and therefore want to adapt it to their world. One thing that I find tea drinkers have in common is that we are all great human beings!

Brewing tea

My recommended method for brewing tea is to start with cold, fresh water because that contains more dissolved oxygen, which helps to get the flavour from the tea. If you’re making it in a teapot, the body of the teapot will steal some of the heat of the water, so you will need to put a splash of hot water in there to warm up the body and then pour the water away.

The important part is to be patient and give the tea a chance to brew, particularly if you’re doing it in a cup or mug where you can see the colour come out – colour is not flavour, colour is just colour. For regular tea bags, three minutes will do but remember – the larger the leaves, the longer the brewing time takes. Finally, store your tea in an airtight container so that no other flavours get into the tea and each time you have a cup of tea, it tastes exactly the same.

Favourite cup of tea

My morning cup is always going to be English Breakfast – I always have this with milk. Then, it very much depends: sometimes I put milk in Earl Grey, sometimes I don’t. I probably wouldn’t put milk in a great Darjeeling and that’s the same for green teas and infusions, because I think milk is too heavy for the delicate flavour of green tea.

Tea pairings

English Breakfast tea is best paired with breakfast-type foods – this is why English Breakfast was created in the first place. I particularly enjoy Earl Grey with anything that has some fruit in it, like a scone with jam, a cake with strawberries or a lemon cake. One of my favourite pairings is Darjeeling and duck; Sencha would also go very well with a white fish like barramundi.

Sugar, ice and everything nice

I never put sugar in tea because I think it spoils the flavour. Sugar is such a dominant flavour that if you put sugar in tea, which is such a delicate drink, it’s the first thing your tastebuds pick up on and you miss out on all the beautiful flavours of the tea. Don’t alter your tea by putting sugar in it. Instead, change your tea to a more delicate tea so you can enjoy the full flavour without the need for sugar.

Iced tea is becoming increasingly popular. The best tip I have for making iced tea is to make it the day before and, once the tea has cooled down, pour some of it into an ice tray and put that into the freezer. If you use normal ice cubes, the first sip of iced tea is great, but then the ice starts to melt. By the time you get to the bottom, you’ve lost all the flavour of the tea. If you use iced tea cubes, as it melts, every sip is just as great as the first sip.

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