If They Used to Strain Tea Leaves Cup by Cup...

Discussion in 'The Cafe'' started by The Wagonmaster, Apr 6, 2019.

    If they used to strain tea leaves cup by cup, does that mean that the tea in the pot would keep brewing for hours and hours until they finished it? Wouldn't that much caffeine make you feel like you just did a line of coke? Plus, if it brews for too long it doesn't taste very good.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  1. TexLaw

    TexLaw Contributor

    This is a bit out of my realm, but I believe that was somewhat moderated by the amount of milk one might add to the teacup. Here's hoping that someone who actually knows what they're talking about comes along.
  2. I always remove the leaves and pour the potful into a thermos.
  3. Most people boil the water and pour over the tea leaves. Only so much caffeine and flavor would brew from the slowly cooling water. Even if kept on heat without boiling, only so much in the leaf. You can get bitter flavors out of the leaf and into the tea if too close to boiling temp.
  4. My teapot allows me to remove tea leaves, but with small particles the tea continues to steep and darken. The green tea I am drinking now likes 170F. And shorter steep time. I get multiple brews, even prefer the later steeps.
  5. My “tea” is holy holly (Yerba Mate). I fill a cup (gourd) about half way with the grind in the morning and re-brew off of it all day with 140° or 170° water, added as needed. The key to getting the best flavor is to soak the grounds with cool water before adding the hot. This saves the phenols from flashing off when the hot is poured in. Later steeps as Biglo says become a little milder in the energy kick, and will change some in flavor. One blend I use has three florals added. Too hot and you’ll lose the pleasantness of those. Bitterness isn’t really a thing with Yerba Mate, if you pre-wet it with cool water. Add hot water first, or use too hot a temperature and it can be come out less desirable.
  6. The thing is though, once I accidentally let the tea brew for an hour or so, strained the tea leaves and let it sit overnight. When I reheated the tea and took it to work, I could only drink about a cup of it before I started shaking from how strong it was. I imagine, back in the old days when they strained the tea cup by cup, that this would always be an issue.
  7. If I'm not mistaken, older "formal" tea service sets included, besides the tea pot, a hot water pitcher or pot to dilute the tea to each person's preference.

    Tea Etiquette Guide
  8. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus

    My understanding is that, generally, tea leaves are and have always been removed from the tea once the steeping process is completed (or in certain circumstances the tea poured off and new hot water added to the leaves, as with a gaiwan or small yixing pot.)

    The one exception would be "old school" Chinese restaurants, where they'd bring a pot of tea to the table and there are lots of tea leaves in the pot and it gradually gets stronger and you drink it small cup by small cup and when it's empty they add more hot water.
  9. What I'm trying to say is that they used to do this in Europe too. They put a small mesh over the tea cup and poured the tea into the cup through the mesh while the leaves stay in the pot and kept getting stronger and stronger. I was wondering how they managed to drink the very last tea from the pot, which had been brewing for a long time, because I've accidentally done this before and after I drank it I was shaking from how strong it was. This is why, in my personal taste, after five minutes I pour ALL of the tea into another pot and strain ALL of the leaves out before I start drinking it. This is not how they did it in days of yore though and if anyone has read any of my threads, you know that I'm all about days of yore.
  10. Milk & Sugar.

    They still do it.

    Which days of yore?

    Most of the western European porcelain teasets seem pretty evenly matched for pot to cups capacity to counteract this. The big clay brown betty style around the 19th century seem more geared towards stewing leaves, wondering if they are in part to blame for the tea cozy.

    A recent excursion to Egypt reminded me that enough sugar and milk can solve a lot. The tea was grim, strong and bitter straight but they were drinking it with 5 sugars and 30% milk in a 100ml cup. Mint & sugar was another remedy. The only half decent cuppa was from the Bedouin tribe who had some caravan style lapsang stuff. The coffee was crazy too, they just can't boil it enough.

    It's pretty common here in cafe's and supermarkets, it troubles me greatly. If I order a pot of tea they bring a pot for 2/3/4 cups and one cup...there's no real way to enjoy the first piping hot cup of tea as I contemplate the leaves beside me stewing away to a bitter mess. In some ways a teabag is a blessing as I can fish it out.

    There were also times, I think, when black/red tea was not the dominant tea in UK which is gonna impact brewing style.

    I manage my way through harsh environements with a heavy tolerance for caffeine and bitterness, as men did in the days of yore.
  11. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus

    I was thinking about this, and came back to post something along the lines of ...

    This may explain the English love of well-doctored tea. Milk/cream, sugar, lemon, honey ... anything to make the inevitably oversteeped cuppa taste halfway decent again ...
  12. The way some of you must be brewing your tea reminds me of those horrible pyrex jugs of coffee that sit in cafes and offices, as well as some peoples homes. The jug of freshly brewed coffee sitting on a hot plate for hours, stewing away losing its flavours and fresh smell, rapidly declining in quality to a stuffy coffee-ish odour that is as bad as the coffee itself. It hits you as soon as you enter the room. Just like a whingeing non smoker and tobacco smoke at party.
    I am English. We do not even grow tea ourselves, but rightly or wrongly we have a simple process to get a decent brew from the pot. Forget building sites, offices and vending machines, anything wet and warm seems to be the order of the day in those places.

    If you have a "brown Betty" teapot as mentioned earlier, usually a thick dark brown old fashioned, clumsy looking pot, warm it up first with some boiling water. Throw the warming water away when the pot is warmed up nicely. Aluminium pots and fine porcelain do not require warming in general, as they do not cool the water down as quickly as the thick clay Betties.
    Use a decent "English Breakfast" or "Assam".
    The old saying is " One teaspoon of leaves per person and one for the pot." If there are three or four of you or more, forget the one for the pot. It might come out a little too strong if too much is added.
    Give the pot a swirl around in a circular manner, called "showing it to the pictures" in some regions. Or simply give it a quick stir with a teaspoon.
    Put the lid back on and wait four or five minutes.
    Personal choice as to putting the milk in first or after the brew has been poured. A subject debated everywhere.
    The tea strainer is a small sieve with a little handle, and is held over each cup in turn to catch the small bits of leaf that escape the pot. If it comes out too week ( sometimes called FORTNIGHT TEA, as it is 2 week, humour supplied gratis) pour a bit in each cup until it the colour is a good golden brown. Add the milk if you have not already done so and enjoy.
    If there is enough body left in the tea leaves add some hot water from the hot water jug and leave to brew whilst
    enjoying your first cup.
    After about 3/4 of an hour the tea in the pot goes off and is called STEWED.
    Throw it away and enjoy a fresh pot.
    Fresh tea put in a flask for a trip out has its own FLASK TEA TASTE. It is awful if served at home, but a God send when miles away from home and cafes.
    When you get to the bottom of the cup, leave about a 1/4 of an inch of tea undrunk. Tis contains the bits of leaves that managed to get through the strainer.

    Never drink vending machine tea, or tea served on any British train or even McDonalds, the latter was a tremendous surprise to me first time around, but even after a few more trial cups at different branches it was still awful to my sense of taste.

    If you are gifted that way, you can dispense with the strainer, and at the end of the cup, swirl the leaves around, quickly invert the cup into the saucer and read your fortune from the tea leaves. But not in Harrods!
  13. This is how I make tea and I think I've pretty much mastered it since I started this thread. I'm a fan of the Indian tea varieties myself as I feel transplanted back to the 19th century with every sip. I actually prefer to add the milk first to the cup because I want it to be more tea than milk and when you add the milk second it seems to have more of a white hue than a muddy brown hue.

    I've since learned the answer to my question. The answer is Europeans brew their tea for too long, so they mask the harsh taste of it with milk and sugar. This is a great source of ire in tea connoisseurs, who think that tea must be Chinese and it only needs to be brewed for fifteen seconds or so. I'm all about western civilization though, so I'm proud to say I brew and drink my tea in the "incorrect" western tradition.
  14. This argument used to puzzle me so much, I mean I'm a milk in first person and I think it tastes slightly better that way but there is not enough difference to promote such vehement arguments, then one day I was reading a Reddit thread concerning the subject and I realised most of the anti-milk-in-first-people were making tea with teabags and no pot, so of course if you put a teabag and milk in a cup then pour on water your tea is going to be disgusting. I think the argument is basically a case of crossed wires gone mental.

    Good post though, as an ex-pat, living in a country of tea heathens (France) it made me smile :)
  15. @boo909

    I too put the milk in first. After a while you get to know just how much you need in a mug or dainty cup.
    I may sound daft, but putting the milk in last is a bit hit and miss for me. I just don't get the amount right somehow.

    The traditional story about the first or last rule is based on the material used to make the cup.
    In the "good old Days" when the distribution of wealth was at it's extremes, the rich could afford expensive bone china tea services. The poor working class, such as myself, could only afford cheap clay cups.
    The bone china could withstand the repeated assault of near boiling water for ever and a day.
    The poor mans clay cups of the day, would give up the ghost and eventually crumble or fail due to the seriously hot liquid in it. I have seen several cups in my younger days with badly crazed glaze. Possibly due to the heat.
    So the idea evolved for the working class man to put the cold milk into the cup first, thereby lowering the temperature of the near boiling tea, and prolonging the life of his cups. The rich man's bone china cups would be unaffected by the heat. One of the excellent properties of porcelain, that is why it is still used in lab ware today.
    So it did not matter a jot if the rich man with his porcelain cups and saucers put the milk in first or last as his cups would last for ever and ever.
    It possibly became a bit of a snobbish thing to put the milk in last, the way the rich people could do.

    The above makes sense if you think about it, but I have no idea as to why it is thought by some folk to be fine etiquette to extend the little pinkie finger when holding a tea cup
    Perhaps somebody knows.
  16. @HelloCheeky yeah I know the traditional story about it (I think there's a good chance that all that ^^ started as a marketing ploy by potters) but the modern argument always seems to come down to taste, especially the anti milk first people, using words like "disgusting" and "weak" over something that really doesn't make that much difference to taste (although there is evidence that the fat in milk reacts better if it's warmed more gently by pouring the tea into the milk rather than vice versa). It came out in the (really long) thread I was reading that most of the anti people really did think the pro people were talking about putting a tea bag in the cup, adding some milk, then the water. Of course this is only an isolated incident but it does explain a hell of a lot about this weird rivalry :)

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