Monday March 30, 2009 | 11 comments
Correct me if I am wrong, but I sense there is a perception out there among tea aficionados that anytime you take premium loose leaf tea, crush the leaves a bit, and force them through a pressurized machine, the resulting cup of tea would be less than drinkable.
The reality is that Teapresso is one of the best tea steepers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
When I first started to experiment with the NT2 model at a teahouse in the Okanagan in British Columbia, I was primarily concerned with its ability to produce a concentrated tea shot that could mimic an espresso shot. I knew that if you could take premium loose leaf tea and extract all possible essence from the leaf in less than two minutes, you would have the ability to produce an endless array of tea-based beverages. Just think of the possibilities. Very cool indeed.
So, when Jarod at Jagasilk in Victoria BC posed the question to me, “How well does the Teapresso make just a straight-up cup of tea?”, I was pretty certain it would stand up to scrutiny.
I remember at the 2007 World Tea Expo, I was in the Klub booth when a stately looking Darjeeling estate owner saw me working the machine and became curious as to how well the unit could produce a cup of first flush Darjeeling tea. He disappeared momentarily and returned clutching a small foil bag of his top pick. He wanted me to make him a cup from the Teapresso. Nervously, I proceeded to make the eager man an eight-ounce cup of tea from the leaves provided. He moved in close to scrutinize the whole process. After a minute or so, I handed him what appeared to be a perfectly brewed cup of Darjeeling – at least from a color perspective.
He took a sip, paused a moment, then took another sip. A big smile opened up across his broad face. He informed me that it was indeed an excellent cup of tea – no bitterness, not over steeped, overflowing with flavor.
Two years later, I again started to try high-end loose leaf teas brewed by the cup from the Teapresso. Jarod’s call came at an opportune time – I was traveling to Victoria to train tea bar staff on a new Teapresso I had installed in what is arguably Canada’s tea capital. Jarod and I agreed to meet at the tea bar in Oak Bay and try some very delicate and rare senchas and an array of other premium loose leaf teas. With tea bar staff looking on, Jarod and I, his Japanese partner, and another café owner, proceeded to make cup after cup of tea from the Teapresso. On the service counter beside the machine, we were brewing the same tea in a classic French press so we could do straight-across comparisons. The curiosity was palpable. Time and again, all concerned sided with the extraction from the Teapresso. The tea was smoother and more full bodied, and the subtleties in the leaf were more than evident. There was a distinct air of surprise and elation among the entire group when reality sunk in – the Teapresso indeed brewed a superior cup of tea – hands down.
If you recall some of the early Teapresso videos on YouTube, in Asia the bulk of the tea being served from Teapressos was tea to-go. I guess they knew well before we did that to achieve a great cup of tea every 1.5 minutes in a busy tea café environment, a Teapresso is one of the few methods available today. I have always been a staunch advocate of serving the customer the best possible cup of tea in the quickest fashion – especially in busy café environments.
The mechanics behind how the Teapresso accomplishes the task of extracting all the essence from the leaf are a result of correct temperature and water pressure being forced through the group head on the machine. The tea leaves sit inside a porta filter, which then attaches to a standard group head. As the leaves get sprayed with water from the group head, 130 psi of pressure force the essence of the leaf through the porta filter and into the cup. It is this pressure that separates all the other methods of brewing tea from the Teapresso. The result is one of the best cups of tea I have ever tasted. It’s that simple.
I suggest to you that whenever you get the chance to try your favorite tea extracted from a Teapresso by someone who knows how to use one properly, you should jump all over it. It will allow you to judge for yourself the results.
Hopefully, I will be behind the machine. Happy sipping.