So, how do you prepare gourmet tea in a food service environment? Brewing a cup of loose tea is essentially the same thing as brewing a traditional tea bag. The only difference (other than enhanced flavor and quality, of course!) is that you need a way to keep the tealeaves out of the finished product.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
In a busy food service environment, simplicity is key! Selecting the right brewing equipment can simplify the process and make brewing loose tea easy and, in fact, less time consuming than preparing many fancy coffee drinks. Fill-your-own tea bags or teapots with built-in strainers are a wonderful option for food service.
From teapots and infusers to fill-your-own tea bags, there are a wide variety of tea brewing accessories to consider. The brewing equipment right for you depends on the specific needs of your business.
TEAPOTS AND INFUSERS
If you frequently serve tea to customers dining-in, we recommend serving tea in a teapot—this will add that extra touch of ambiance and personality. Dishwasher-safe teapots that come with built in infuser baskets (which keep tealeaves neatly contained) are eco-friendly and easy to use.
TIP: Always select high-quality infusers made from fine mesh as large holes tend to clog. Also, be sure to choose large infusers that allow plenty of room for tealeaves to expand and float around in the water. Because they are too small for adequate flavor extraction (not to mention, difficult to clean and prone to breaking), we do not recommend tea balls.
FILL-YOUR-OWN TEA BAGS
Fill-your-own tea bags give you the best of both worlds: the convenience of a tea bag and the quality of whole-leaf tea.
If you serve tea to customers on-the-run, we recommend using fill-your-own teabags. This brilliant little invention allows you to turn any high-quality, loose-leaf tea into a bag in seconds. Simply add a spoonful of tea to the empty bag and brew just as you would a traditional teabag.
Compared to the traditional tea bags used in most food service establishments, fill-your-own tea bag require only a few extra seconds of extra effort. The extra step of adding a spoonful of tea to the empty bag rewards your your customer with a much higher quality, gourmet product.
Although some cafes we work with prep popular teas in advance (by filling multiple fill-your-own teabags in the morning), customers do enjoy having a bag custom filled for especially for them right before their eyes. It really adds a special touch and, again, differentiates the business.
When customers brew tea at home, we recommend using anywhere from 1 teaspoon -3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of tealeaves per cup (8 ounces). The suggested serving size varies depending on the type of tea (large, light, fluffy tealeaves require a larger serving size than dense, heavy teas) and personal taste preference (some people prefer a lighter taste, others a stronger cup).
However, in a food service setting, it is important to keep things consistent and simple. We suggest offering just one size teapot or cup around 16 ounces in volume. Some food service establishments further simplify the process by following a one-rule system for all teas—regardless of type.
If you choose this option, we suggest using 1 tablespoon per 16 ounce teapot/cup and steeping for 3.5 minutes at 190˚ F water temperature. This quantity will brew a very generous, full-flavored cup and works for all tea types, regardless of their lightness or density. Also, this is an easy rule for staff to remember.
1 TABLESPOON PER POT
3.5 MINUTES STEEP TIME
190˚ F WATER TEMPERATURE
Other venues prefer a customized tea service to get the most out of each specific tea. If you prefer this option, we have listed our suggested variations serving size, steep time and water temperature for each individual tea. Contact your Octavia Tea sales rep or download the chart below for more information.
GENEROUS, FULL-FLAVORED CUP
It is interesting to note that traditional tea bags are really only designed only for 8 ounces of water, even though they are often used to brew more than twice that amount in the food service industry.
Following the serving sizes outlined above is often similar in cost to using 2 traditional tea bags for the same amount of water, and your customers will be rewarded with a full-flavored, significantly higher-quality product.
GOURMET TEA - COST-PER-SERVING
For a detailed analysis on the estimated cost-per-serving and number of servings-per-pound for all of our bulk teas, please download our excel spreadsheet.
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