A noble art accompanied by coded rituals in some societies, where the elegance of gestures and the spirituality of the drink are of sought after.
Tea tasting is a chosen moment when the frantic pace of daily living makes way for the art of living.
Preparing good tea
The secret of preparing good tea is in the selection of the ingredients, paying attention to the quality of the water and the brewing time. The water, pure and with a neutral PH, must be simmering (95 – 98*C) but not boiling. Water which has boiled for a long time should not be used for making tea. Ahmad Soobhany’s advice of also refers to the ideal duration of infusion in order to appreciate the flavours of tea without changing its properties:
- For an aromatic tea, it will ideally be between 3 and 5 minutes. A longer infusion will allow caffeine to replace the tannins and the tea will lose its aromas and virtues.
- For a high grade natural tea, infusion time should never exceed 4 minutes.
- For iced teas, brew the tea bag only one minute.
The different categories of tea
China is the almost exclusive supplier of these very high quality and very rare teas. The leaves are picked in the traditional way, and then undergo two stages before consumption: wilting and drying through traditional methods, in the sun. A very fine tea, whose name comes from the silvery colour of the leaves, which gives an almost colourless liquor with a delicate aroma.
These are the non-fermented teas. The leaves are picked by hand or with a cutter and undergo a special process to avoid natural fermentation. They are heated with dry heat or with steam to remain supple and pliable, and then rolled, sometimes by hand, before drying. It is a fresh tea, rich in antioxidants, whose colour depends on the quality of the tea.
Semi-fermented tea (Oolong):
Produced mainly in China, half way between green tea and black tea, the leaves having undergone a short fermentation has the sweetness of green tea as well as the body of black tea.
The most popular tea worldwide and mainly produced in Mauritius has 5 manufacturing stages: withering, rolling/shredding, fermentation, drying, sifting. A grading is done according to the tea’s appearance.
The flavouring does not completely mask the tea’s original character but endows with new aromas. Flavour combinations add novelty to the tea.
In order to facilitate the transportation of tea in bygone days, it was often pressed into brick-shaped moulds.
Conservation when kept in an airtight metal container away from heat, tea may be kept indefinitely while keeping its properties.