Posted in Kafevend Blog

Tea to stand your spoon in

Mondays on the Kafevend blog are generally days devoted to tea and this final Monday before Christmas is no exception. Today we're going to focus on tea's strength. Are you someone who likes to leave their tea to stew to the point where you can virtually stand a spoon in it, or do you prefer an altogether more subtle taste?

Strong enough for a mouse to trot on

In Ireland, where people drink more tea per capita than anywhere else in the world, there's a saying which describes a good cup of tea as being 'strong enough for a mouse to trot on'. A strong milky brew is typical of Irish tea, a preference that dates back to the introduction of tea to the masses in the middle of the 1800s. The tea that was affordable to the common people wasn't great quality. However, milk was found to improve the taste and so tea was brewed for a strong flavour to balance out the milkiness. These days there's plenty of good quality Irish tea available, but the strong milky tea tradition stands firm.

Tea and hard water

Yorkshire is another place long associated with a robust, no nonsense brew. Making a strong cup of tea means leaving it to infuse for longer of course, which can present something of a problem in hard water areas. Taylors of Harrogate have come up with a solution to this problem. Although Harrogate, where the tea is made and tested, lies within a soft water area, the company has water piped in from East Yorkshire where the water is hard. A hard water variety of Yorkshire tea has been developed; it's specially blended to produce the best flavour possible when brewed in hard water. Check out this link if you're interested.

Twinings have their own version for people who like a good strong cup of tea to set them up for the day. Their English Strong Breakfast Tea is a blend of teas from Assam, Sri Lanka and Africa and is described as having bold and lively characteristics. The fact that the blend contains a measure of Assam tea should come as no surprise to anyone who knows their masala chai. The strong, malty tones manage to stand up to the addition of the spices and still impart their own flavour.

Up in smoke

Unquestionably the strongest tasting tea of them all though, is lapsang souchong. Whilst it's a black tea like all the others we've mentioned, what's different about lapsang souchong, for those who've never had the pleasure (or the misfortune, depending on your point of view!), is that it's smoked during processing to create a highly distinctive bonfire taste. It's generally made from leaves plucked from lower down the tea plant, as opposed to the bud and first two leaves that are usually harvested. The smoking process means that the lower quality leaves are amply disguised, though it's only fair to point out that top quality lapsang souchong is widely available for strong smoky tea connoisseurs everywhere!

The hard water effect

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