Essential tea information – top 5 questions…

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We held a an exclusive tea tasting this week at the Vista, on the Trafalgar hotel roof terrace in London, Arguably one of London’s best roof terrace bars and a beautiful contemporary boutique hotel; and were blessed with good weather and a great crowd. There were a number of questions about tea in general and our range that came up again, which we thought may be useful to include in a blog.

Are all your teas organic and fair-trade?

While not all our teas are currently organic or fair-trade we are constantly working with our growers and tea estates to ensure that all our teas are grown and prodded in the most environmentally way, not used any chemicals or harmful substances in the production thereof and all are paid a fair wage and above market rates to the communities that work tirelessly to produce our wonderful teas. Depending on the country and region are teas are certified amongst others: UK Soil Association Organic, fair-trade, ethical tea partnership, and/or rainforest alliance. We also work closely with charities and will update shortly on initiatives.  Where growers are not yet fully certified we are working with them to become certified in the near future. For example our boutique garden in Nepal has just become Organic certified, this has taken 3 full years to achieve – although he has been 100% organic for over 3 years it has taken that amount of time to be certified!

We are surprised how good the black teas taste without milk, why are they not bitter?

Tea only goes bitter when it is left to infuse for too long. The tannins are released and the cup becomes biter if tea is over stewed, for most teas this normally takes 2-3 minutes (longer for some green and white teas which are infused at cooler temperatures). Ideally you want to make sure that the tea does not sit in the water for longer than 3 minutes. The habit of adding milk to tea is more than likely as a result of over stewing the tea and having to add milk to counteract that bitter taste. Most tea drinkers who have only ever drunk supermarket green tea bags, which they invariably infuse the same as normal black tea bags, comment that they don’t like green tea. Invariably this has nothing to do with it being green tea, but rather that fact the the tea bag is infused in water too hot and for too long.

Does green tea have caffeine? Is it not a herbal tea?

All tea contains caffeine. On average tea contains 3% caffeine by dry weight. Black tea is a smaller denser leaf which means it contains the most caffeine, while green tea normally has larger ‘lighter’ leaves and thus has less caffeine. Herbal teas are not made from the same plant (Camellia Sinensis) and as such do not contain any caffeine. Some do have a ‘stimulating’ effect, which can help cleanse but also refresh. Honeybush for example, while not containing any caffeine, seems to clear your head and make you feel relaxed and calm yet ‘clear headed’ – great for drinking all day long but especially at the end of the day or for winding down before going to bed.

How long does tea last?

Tea kept in the right conditions can last a long time. However being a natural product it does tend to loose its freshness after a while. That’s why it is important to store tea in the right conditions. make sure that tea at all times is kept dry, away from spices and strong odours and in a sealed airtight container. All Chateau Rouge teas are sold either in resealable specially designed metal tea caddies or re-sealsable foil pouches. here have all been tested to ensure your tea stays as fresh s possible for as long as possible. Tea bags normally don’t last as long as leaf tea as the tea leaves are smaller and are thus more exposed to oxidisation – which breaks down the tea quicker.

How to properly make tea? And do I need a special teapot? 

Tea can be an exact science, but invariably most don’t have the time, equipment or patience to measure the exact water temperature, oxygen content (freshness) or time infusion down the the second. So while we may recommend exact temperatures for infusion in general we suggest: for black tea to use water just off the boil or up to 1 minutes off the boil and infuse for 2-3 minutes (depending on how dry or black the tea leaf is); for green tea use water 2-3 minutes off the boil, and infuse for 2-3 minutes (again depending how green the tea leaf is. The green or whiter the tea the less time it needs and colder the water news to be) and lastly for herbal teas, treat like black teas but again the more ‘sensitive’ the plant the colder the water needs to be.

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