Nitro Tea!

I wonder what Lu Yu would think with what is going on with tea these days? As the “patron saint of tea,” and the “father of tea,” do you think he would have ever seen this coming? By “this” I mean Nitro Tea! I have to admit that I must be a bit behind the times because it seems it’s been here for a while, but somehow, I missed it until just this year. Truthfully, though, I do like the smoothness and the creaminess the smaller bubbles of nitro produce, as opposed to the larger bubbles from CO2. With North America’s love of everything iced, nitro teas are going to keep attracting attention.

There has been some internet buzz about Nitro Teas for some time, but the best, most entertaining, and delightfully geeky group is hands down THE TEA PEOPLE from San Francisco. Sadly, I have never met any of them but feel that I benefited greatly by stumbling on their informative and enlightening web documentation of their nitro tea escapades, so I thought I’d pass along their information to you. The information below is directly from their website.

“It all started by thinking about how we could enhance our daily steeps. How could we elevate the mouthfeel? How could we make our sips more creamy, silky smooth, and less bitter? Turns out, all we needed to do was borrow a page from the art of craft beer and add some nitrogen to our brews. That’s when the tea geeking commenced. We started experimenting with various brewing methods and devices, sampled a wide selection of teas on tap, and recorded all our findings to share with you.

We’re here to break down each aspect of nitro tea for you; start to mouthfeel finish.

The head that is created in the process of nitro is responsible for the development in flavor. The flavor of tea is broken down into three different sensations: taste, aroma, and mouth feel. These are determined by the amount of different chemical compounds in the tea. When adding nitrogen to a tea we are not actually “changing” the flavor of a tea, but rather contributing to it. By nitrogenating a tea, a head of nitrogen gas forms on the top of the tea, contributing to a new creamy mouthfeel to the tea.

However, in our experiments and tastings with nitro tea, a common response that we get from tasters is that the result in taste is a less bitter tea. We came up with the following hypothesis about why this happens: While ‘nitrogenating’ a tea won’t change the chemical composition of a tea, the presence of nitrogen bubbles sliding across your taste buds might inhibit their ability to perceive bitterness. Ultimately, the effervescence tricks your taste buds into detecting less bitterness.

We played around with some of our best selling loose leafs to see which teas worked best as Nitro Teas. At the Tea Bar, we’ve been doing blind sampling of kegged teas versus normal steeps. The results are in and we narrowed it down to our top three teas. All of them lost their bitterness and tang, become more smooth and floral, and became creamy tasting sips, Earl Grey, Golden Honey Black, and Lychee Green Tea.”

Some of you tea geeks will truly identify with this group of young, compassionate and caring teapreneurs (I just made up that word), but I know you will like them. They refer to their experimenting sessions much like a scientist would be doing in a lab.

“Our labs section explores everything beyond the cup: cocktails, cold brewing, milk teas, loose leaf as an ingredient, and nitro tea. Tea isn’t just meant to be steeped once in a cup. Instead, we’re into experimenting with other ways in which tea can be used, figuring out fun facts about our sips, and documenting the behind the scenes of our adventures. Innovation beyond the teacup.”

You can see their photo-documented adventure with this link. I’m sure you’ll be amused, and probably amazed.

LABS IN ACTION

Of course, there are do-it-yourself home nitro kits you can purchase. Who knew? I found a short video clip that you may get a kick out of – some of you may wish to try this on your own! I don’t receive any compensation for mentioning any of these people. I just felt it was good information worth sharing.

Here’s the technical and scientific stuff:

“Under normal atmospheric pressure, nitrogen exists as a liquid between the temperatures of -210°C and -196°C, which equals -346°F and -320.44°F. Below -210°C, nitrogen freezes and becomes a solid. Above -196°C, nitrogen boils and becomes a gas. Liquid nitrogen stored in unpressurized containers like the tanks sold here is slowly boiling away, so the temperature is -196°C or -320.44°F.

So how cold is liquid nitrogen? Very cold!

Since liquid nitrogen is obtained from the atmosphere, it is inexpensive and is rarely refrigerated. It is kept in insulated tanks.”

What on earth could be next for Nitro Teas? You guessed it – no, I bet you didn’t! With the success of food trucks, why not truck around Nitro Teas? Here’s Doug Hildreth from www.320Nitro.com, a new friend I met through LinkedIn, and he is doing just that!

I guess I must be living under rock because I didn’t know this other nitro thing was a thing, either!

Sorry, I digressed there for a moment – funny how searching the Internet will do that to you!

Back to Lu Yu and the Tea People: I think they’d make him proud since he was curious and adventurous when it came to tea, too.