The first post I wrote on this subject talked about brewers currently on the market and the one we are getting ready to introduce to foodservice. In this post, I’d like to talk about tea brewing in general. A very popular machine on the market for consumer use uses the same method to brew tea and coffee. It amazes me that people accept their leaf being brewed in the same manner as coffee grounds. Tea and coffee contrast dramatically on elemental levels: they are physically different, structurally different, and chemically different. Yet, consumers accept the compromise.
The distinction is important, due to the differences between Orthodox and CTC teas, essentially body vs. flavor. Orthodox Teas are whole leaf teas manufactured using the traditional process of making tea. CTC Teas are made through the Crush, Tear, and Curl (CTC) process of manufacture producing a granular leaf particle.
CTC process tea is seen by some as the answer to the overarching question of reducing brewing time and making tea more accessible to foodservice. I have worked with CTC and feel strongly that it is not equal to orthodox. I have one criteria when judging tea: taste/my palate. I know what I taste and I am honest to that.
There are structural components to the leaf that respond differently to methods of brewing than ground coffee – regular or espesso – grinds. Here’s our goal when brewing tea: extract the amino acids from the tannins before the caffeine – because too much caffeine/astringency will cause bitterness. But it cannot JUST be fast, because you need the right conditions to get the amino acids out – which is what the quick forcing of hot water through the leaves does not do – but does work with ground coffee. The leaf needs just the right balance to release its best taste properties.
There are approximately 20 known amino acids in tea. Depending on what percentage of these various amino acids is released during brewing determines the taste of the tea. The trick is for a technology to release the optimum taste profile in the least amount of time when dealing with high volume operations. If the profile is less than optimum, the tea may be weak or bitter.
The coffee industry has worked with science to develop their grinding and brewing technologies over decades, producing many generations of espresso machines and commercial coffee grinders and brewers. Tea has been overlooked. In some cases, tea is simply being ‘crammed’ into a coffee brewing profile, like a comic sidekick, which is a horrible mistake. This ‘quick fix’ is a poor fit for an industry needing a time-sensitive technology that gives truly excellent results.
We are now looking for foodservice industry partnerships to help us bring a technology developed by tea professionals to the mass market. These ideal partners – to us – don’t have to be engaged in the exclusive coffee/tea retail sector; but rather restaurant chains, hotels, and other foodservice venues. Large tea growers/exporters/importers are also a potential strategic partner that would benefit from this technology.
If you are interested in this area of specialty tea service, we would love to speak with you. Contact Vern Walden at 951-506-1433.