The Tea-Cha company, headed by Ian Bersten, has proposed a revolution in tea preparation: brew it like you would brew coffee. Is that really possible? Ever being the one to like to test things out and run little mini-experiments, I looked forward to receiving the newest model of Bersten’s brew filter and giving it a whirl.
The filter is made of a superfine mesh all around, with a metal rim at top and bottom to hold the mesh into shape. It came with simple instructions and some questions that Bersten wanted me to consider as I tried the device. Step one was to find a mug that was the right size for the filter to fit into with a slight gap around it and the bottom of the filter sitting on the bottom of the mug. This was very exciting, since I have advocated in the past that if one must use an infuser basket or a filter, that it be about the same size as the cup or teapot in which one was steeping. It was pretty easy to find the right sized mug, since hubby and I have quite a collection. (The company may be selling a properly sized mug with the filter.)
Bersten proposes that tea should be processed to a fine dust to steep best, that is, for a short time yet give a strong flavor and have no bitterness or astringency. That’s how a lot of coffee is brewed — from fine grounds. So, we tried the filter using some Barry’s Gold Blend (loose, of course, not in the bag).
The brew time is crucial and so is the need to be precise. Too short can result in a weak taste, while too long can mean you get that bitterness and astringency you are seeking to avoid. So, hubby and I had to proceed with great care and precision.
A photo log of the process:
- The filter beside a cup that was sized just right for it.
- The filter slides into the cup.
- The bottom of the filter sits on the bottom of the cup — a perfect fit!
- A teaspoonful of tea goes into the filter.
- Boiling water is poured in up to the rim of the cup.
- Our first steep trial was for 15 seconds. Too weak in taste and aroma but not bitter or astringency.
- Our second steep trial (with fresh tea) was for 30 seconds. Stronger taste and aroma and no bitterness or astringency, but still too weak to have with milk, so for us, not good.
Hubby did a final trial for 50 seconds and got a decent tea liquid that was strong enough for milk with only a trace of bitterness that the milk took away. As Goldilocks would say, “It was just right!” So, it seems that yes, you can brew tea like you brew coffee.
One caution: the tea will be quite hot since the steep time is short and the water does not have the chance to cool. A small inconvenience, though; just let it sit a few minutes. You’ll still have a fairly quick and convenient cuppa to give you that charge of caffeine just when you need it. Bersten also suggests that you only fill up the cup about 3/4, steep up the tea a bit extra strong, remove the filter, and then fill the cup the rest of the way with cool water. This should make the tea cool enough to drink. Also, if you take milk in your tea as I do, use cold milk to reduce the temperature.
Would a device like this coax you to give up your full and broken leaf teas? That is something only you can answer. As for hubby and me, this filter is a great alternative for a daily cuppa.
Some fine ground teas to try using this method:
Kambaa Estate tea loose leaf
Loose Organic Tea – Assam
English Breakfast Blend No. 1 loose leaf tea 8 oz. Pouch
Note: Mr. Bersten is still working on the design. What you see in the photos here may not be the final product. He is also trying it as a way to steep full and broken leaf teas. See Janis Badarau’s review of the original Tea-Cha Pet filter.
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