English Tea Store Tea Header

Tea Blog

Official Blog of the English Tea Store

Simon’s Crumbs

At some point everyone who enters the realm of estate and single-source tea – that is to say, good tea – encounters the leaf debate: Is whole-leaf tea the best form for making the best tea?

Caption: Whole leaf, crumbled, or ground? Why not “All of the above?”
Caption: Whole leaf, crumbled, or ground? Why not “All of the above?” (Photo source: article author)

The purist’s argument goes that broken leaves have too many surfaces that allow all the tasty and aromatic oils to escape, so you must use the unbroken leaf that has locked these oils in. On the other hand, if you’ve been following this blog you’ve read about Ian Bersten’s ideas on how the best tea can be made only with ground-up leaves, which encourages more of these oils to infuse into your cup.

So which is correct? I’ve used both of these methods and have enjoyed many excellent cups of tea. But by far the best teas I’ve ever sampled combined the two methods.

Since 1998 I’ve been running an email chat group called Teamail. As it was one of the first online chat groups focusing on tea, it has attracted people from all over the world, and at all stages of their tea journey. Much of what I know about tea I’ve learned through Teamail and its members.

One of the earliest participants was a gentleman named Simon. He was located somewhere in southeast Asia – Indonesia, I believe – and shared wonderful stories of his tea-drinking experiences. This was a man who knew, and loved, his tea. In Simon’s opinion, the best way to make tea was to use whole leaves … and then crumble a few of them into the pot before adding water.

This was a revolutionary idea for those of us who had just moved from teabags to loose leaf tea. Was Simon actually telling us that everything we thought we knew about the preparation of fine teas was wrong?

Well no, not exactly. He still believed that the best cup of tea was the product of whole loose leaves. But he also understood that some of the essence of the leaf could be released only if the leaf were broken before infusion.

It made sense, and many of us began to follow Simon’s advice, measuring whole leaves and then crumbling a few between our fingers before adding it to the teapot. Lots of us ended up converted to his method. I don’t know whether he developed it or simply reported it, but we all referred to the technique as Simon’s Crumbs. As in: “I sampled a new Darjeeling that I made in a four-cup teapot using Simon’s Crumbs.”

Fourteen-plus years after being introduced to Simon’s Crumbs, it’s still my preferred method for preparing tea, and I still think it produces the most flavourful and aromatic cup. But don’t take my word for it – try it yourself and see.

Simon faded from the Teamail group some years ago. One member reported that Simon was an elderly gentleman and had passed away. I’m sorry to say that I don’t really know; a lot of people have joined and left our group over the years for various reasons. Whatever Simon’s reason, I still think of him whenever I fix a pot of tea with “his” crumbs.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 responses to “Simon’s Crumbs”

  1. […] grind the orthodox tea leaves a bit so that they will steep up faster (this was also mentioned in another article on this blog by one of the other writers). You may find you’ll also need less tea leaves this […]

  2. I had to return and tell you, A.C., that this is my preferred way for brewing, too. It makes an enormous difference in the flavor of the tea. I have found that I do not favor those teas that are finely ground; I find them harsh. So I favor the whole leaf, and now with Simon’s Crumbs method, I get the flavor released at time of brewing. Just wonderful, thank you.

    1. Hi, CurtissAnn, glad you liked the article. It was by another writer here – Janis Badarau of TeaGuide.net. Thanks for reading and glad to hear you like this method. I’m using it, too.

  3. If the leaf breaks-up during manufacture, the wetleaf falls into the well of the roller and forms clumps. During rolling over-heating takes place and the quality deteriorates.
    But in the crumbs method of Simon no deterioration in quality should occur but the cuppage will increase.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: