Reboiling the kettle? You’re murdering your cuppa

Bewley’s Café is selling a rare ‘first flush’ Darjeeling tea in Dublin next week, and it has to be treated with care

The Castleton ’first flush’ Darjeeling which will go on sale in Bewley’s of Grafton Street on Monday

The Castleton ’first flush’ Darjeeling which will go on sale in Bewley’s of Grafton Street on Monday

 

Every time you flick the switch on the kettle and reboil its contents, you are murdering the cup of tea you are about to make.

“Tea needs oxygen to brew correctly,” says Maria Cassidy, head of training at Bewley’s. “Fresh filtered water at the correct pH level of 6.8, free from limescale and chlorine”, is what you should be using to brew your cuppa.

It is also important to use the right amount of tea leaves – 2.5 to 3g of leaves in 200ml of water, and to brew it at the right temperature and for the correct length of time.

Maria Cassidy, head of training at Bewley's, tasting teas
Maria Cassidy, head of training at Bewley's, tasting teas

Before you reach for the box of tea bags, it is worth noting that leaf tea, properly brewed, does make a much better cuppa. This was demonstrated by Cassidy at a tutored tasting to introduce one of the rarest and most expensive teas in the world, which goes on sale in Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street in Dublin on Monday.

Castleton Darjeeling ‘first flush’ is counted among the Champagnes of tea, and regularly makes record prices at auction. The Bewley’s buyers recently secured a 75kg sack, and the rare tea, from one of the oldest tea plantations in West Bengal, in the foothills of the Himalayas, will sell for €5 a pot.

“Darjeeling ‘first flush’ is the very first harvest of the season, when the shoots are very young and they have a lot more flavour condensed in the leaves and buds,” Cassidy explains.

Location plays its part, too. “The terroir of the estate has the right altitude, the right amount of rain, and the soils in that area are very rich and they add flavour to the tea.”

The flavour profile of the tea runs to “notes of soft apricot and peach, heady scent of roses” while its appearance is that of “ a delicate pale liquor”.

A tutored tea tasting at Bewley’s Café in Dublin
A tutored tea tasting at Bewley’s Café in Dublin

Bewley’s suggests pairing the tea with its strawberry and pistachio tart, and while it is a good match, the €8.50 price tag on the pastry, attributed to the cost of the ingredients used, principally the pistachios, may be a bit harder to swallow than the fragrant tea.

(Happily, I can report that the cafe is now replicating its famous almond buns in almost exactly the size and structure of the original, and these will set you back a paltry €3.70, by comparison.)

The Castleton tea, served in a ceramic pot topped with a label telling you the name of the person who made it, when it was made and how long you should leave it to brew, will be available at Bewley’s while stocks last.

A selection of cold brewed iced teas at Bewley's of Grafton Street
A selection of cold brewed iced teas at Bewley's of Grafton Street

Bewley’s current tea offering also includes a selection of iced teas (€3.25) that are perfect for the current heatwave. They are made with cold brewed loose leaf tea, infused for six hours in filtered water, with no added sugar or flavourings, and are absolutely delicious.

There are four varieties – Earl Grey and fresh strawberry; strawberry and mango; green oriental beauty, and Ceylon and peach puree.

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