Irish Breakfast Tea
Irish Breakfast Tea: It may surprise you to learn that the people of Ireland drink more tea per capita than any other population on Earth. It's true. In fact, your average Irish citizen drinks about 6 cups per day. What‟s more, the cups they drink are so strong that you could almost stand a spoon upright in them. Indeed, the Irish prefer what some might call a sturdy cup of tea.
In order to provide the Irish with blends this strong, tea blenders supplying the market buy up top quality seasonal output from Assam and Kenya. The Assam teas are picked from the top production of the Second Flush, a period of high growth in the month of June. The Kenyans selected are usually those produced in either February or August when the most flavourful seasonal quality leaf is grown. The Assam component of this Irish blend gives the cup a strong, deep malty character with heavy layers of astringency that dry the mouth, feeling almost as if you could chew the tea. (This is similar to the way a very dry wine can make you pucker.) The Kenyan teas provide a bright coppery color with profound floral notes that add a complex depth to the cup.
As with most teas, the longer you brew this tea the stronger it becomes. If you‟re Irish, you‟ll let this tea brew a good long time and then add a wee splash of milk. Milk, in the case of a tea this strong cancels out the tannins and diminishes the bitterness that can characterize some strong teas. Debate rages from Dublin to Tipperary as to when milk should be added - before the tea or after? The milk-first camp argues that milk added after the hot tea will scald and should therefore be added first so it can warm as the tea is poured. Milk-last devotees argue that the only way to properly measure the amount to add is to pour it last. (Non-users of milk regard the whole issue as quite silly.)
Either way, It is a strong blend. Enjoy in the morning with toast, or a traditional Irish “fry-up!”
BREWING RECOMMENDATIONS – 1 cup; 230-280ml, 8-10 fl oz):
Weaker Tea: ¾ teaspoon (1.7 gr. / 0.06 oz.)
Regular Strength Tea: 1 teaspoon (2.2 gr. / 0.08 oz.)
Stronger Tea: 1 ½ teaspoon (3.0 gr. / 0.11 oz.)
Sugg. Brewing Temp: 100‟C / 212‟F
Sugg. Brewing Time: Weaker < 3 min. / Regular Strength 4-5 min. / Stronger > 6-8 min*
Sugar: To taste if desired
Milk: To taste if desired Lemon: To taste if desired
Fresh Mint Sprig: To taste if desired
Hot tea brewing method: Bring filtered or freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea for each 7-9oz/200-260ml of fluid volume in the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea).
Iced tea brewing method (Individual Serving): Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea into a teapot for each serving required. Using filtered or freshly drawn cold water, boil and pour 6-7oz/170-200ml per serving over the tea. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Add hot tea to a 12oz/375ml acrylic glass filled with ice, straining the tea or removing the bags. Not all of the tea will fit, allowing for approximately an additional ½ serving. Sweeten and/or add lemon to taste. A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to increase the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted. (Note: Some luxury quality teas may turn cloudy when poured over ice. This is a sign of luxury quality and nothing to worry about!)