Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Tea Changes Its Flavor Depending On Water Temperature?

What temperature do you use to brew your teas? Do you have a preferable water temperature for your favorite teas? Today, I'd like to share what exactly happens to your tea when you change the water temperature.

There are 3 kinds of major components related to the flavor of tea - Caffeine, Tannin, and Amino Acid. Caffeine has bitterness, Tannin has astringency, and Amino Acid has sweetness or Umami. Each component has different resolution rate depending on water temperature. See the chart below.
As you see, Caffeine and Tannin dramatically change their resolution rate depending on water temperature. The higher the water temperature is, the quicker the components are extracted. In other words, they were not extracted well into low-temperature water.
On the other hand, Amino Acid doesn't change its dissolution rate regardless of water temperature. Even into the 104F water, more than 60% of Amino Acid are extracted in 4 minutes.

This is why many tea companies recommend to use low-temperature water for Sen Cha or Gyokuro which have nice sweet flavor. If you use high temperature for these teas, bitterness and astringency overpower the sweetness, and you cannot enjoy their authentic flavor.

Also, this is why you need to steep longer when you use low-temperature water. With 104F water,  bitterness and astringency are not extracted well even after 4 minutes, but sweetness/Umami is extracted according to the steeping duration. By steeping long time with low-temperature water, your tea will be full-body sweetness/Umami.

Hope this information will be of help to you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cold Green Tea Mission

Hooray! Finally summer is here in Seattle.  Driving with the windows down and radio up, I like to feel the heat of the glaring sun and a cool breeze touching my skin-- I like the contrast.  Summer is so short here.  I must enjoy this as much as possible before never-ending troops of grey clouds coming in with undetermined rain.

Okinawa, where I grew up, gets unbelievably HOT in summer.  It belongs to sub-tropical climate, and it means hot and HUMID!  It feels like you're covered with a wet heavy blanket all the time. Vending machine is a savior.  You must constantly drink something to hydrate yourself.

In Japan, cold tea is commonly enjoyed during summer. I used to help my mother to prepare cold green tea when we had visitors.  My mother had a very beautiful set of glassware and I looked forward to using her tea set every summer.  It was all about the presentation to me. As a little girl, I enjoyed placing a beautiful delicate glass on a matching coaster, Japanese traditional sweets on a pretty plate, and a tiny bamboo fork aside. Then, I set everything on a tray and took careful steps to bring it to the guest.  Wiping sweat off the forehead with a handkerchief, the guest greeted and thanked me for my hard work.  Watching the guest enjoying the cold green tea so deliciously was my happy moment. "My mission is done."

When I think of summer, this is one of my favorite childhood memories.

It is very easy to make cold green tea and you can use the loose leaf or teabags you already have.  Brew it very dark first and immediately add iced water. This is the key point of making delicious cold green tea. Choose from our wide selections.  Enjoy!