Tea is the most widely consumed beverage worldwide, next to water, and 158 million Americans drink it each day, according to the New York City-based Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.
And tea is gaining in popularity, possibly as consumers increasingly consider it to have health benefits. Tea consumption has been linked to heart health, reduction in certain cancers and neurological benefits, among other perks.
Tea menu mentions have grown 2.3% over the past five years, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor data. It appears on 96% of midscale restaurant menus and at 80% of fast-casual chains.
So, it makes sense to brew it with care to keep consumers coming back. Here are a few areas of focus for operators who want to offer carefully crafted teas.
Hot tea should simply be “hot.” Right?
Wrong. Just as all meat isn’t cooked to the same temperature, all teas are not brewed at the same temperature. The delicate flavors of white tea, for instance, would be destroyed if brewed at the full rolling boil recommended for black tea.
Recommended brewing temperatures, according to the Tea Association, are:
- White tea: 165-175 F
- Green tea: 180-185 F
- Oolong tea: 190-200 F
- Black tea and dark tea: 205-212 F (full, rolling boil recommended)
Typically, the larger and more-delicate looking the tea leaf, the lower the recommended steeping temperature. All teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The differences in brewing temperatures are because of the different degrees of processing of tea leaves. After harvesting, green and white teas are not oxidized. Oolong teas are partially oxidized. And black tea is fully oxidized. Dark teas are fermented after manufacture.
Operators should source high-quality tea, of course. But, for the best brew, they must also pay attention to the water.
“The best-quality tea is made in softer water,” says Peter F. Goggi, the Tea Association’s president. “It’s a brighter brew and the flavor comes out.” He also recommends using filtered water for best results.
Storage and safety
All tea should be stored in an area that’s dark, cool and dry, and away from strong odors and moisture. Never put tea bags or loose-leaf tea in the refrigerator.
Practice proper food-safety guidelines with brewing, serving and holding tea. Operators should follow “a rigid cleaning exercise” on all brewing equipment daily, Goggi says.
Given the importance of water temperature when brewing tea, consider FETCO’s HWD-2105TOD Temperature-on-Demand Hot Water Dispenser (http://www.fetco.com/pl,product,35.html).
The five-gallon dispenser allows users to pre-set four different water temperatures via touchscreen, depending on which type of tea will be brewed. The machine also tallies dispense metrics and has self-diagnostic capabilities.
This post is sponsored by FETCO