On a Sunday night, RTE One is showing their second series of "Striking Out". We usually do not do TV reviews but in episode 2 there was a rare piece of free tea education we could not leave uncommented.
Vincent, Neil Morrissey's character teaches his much younger housemate Ray how to make tea (available on RTE player until 14th February 2018).
Tea is about comfort, stimulation, global Brotherhood", he tells the sceptical young man.
"Warm the pot" is the first, sensible step.
Vincent then shares his recipe for his favourite tea:
"Take 2 spoons Assam, 2 spoons Darjeeling and 2 spoons Earl Grey".
Loose leaf tea, of course.
"Add the water at the very minute it boils, then leave the tea to draw".
This is my favourite lesson and I would go even further:
"Add the water the Second it boils".
Young Ray couldn't care less but it is sound advice born out of old knowledge.
The longer water boils the less oxygen it contains and the less flavoursome the tea will be. Oxygen is the enemy of tea storage but your best friend in tea tasting.
Overboiling the kettle results in flat water which equals bland tea.
Now Vincent drinks the tea, closes his eyes and exclaims:
"The tannins, the exotic perfume".
Only a tea grouch would find this overly theatrical but he is relishing the hearty, malty backbone of the Assam, overlaid with the Darjeelings delicate muscatel aroma and topped by the citrus-fruity bergamot essence provided by the Earl Grey.
"Are you getting it?" Vincent asks.
"Deffo" is the flummoxed reply, meaning: what the hell are you talking about?
Since I wasn't there, how do I know what the tea taste like?
We replicated the blend exactly to Vincent's specifications:
And here is how to make it:
- Take roughly 800ml water.
- Follow Vincent's instructions and let the blend infuse for 2-4 minutes. Any longer and those tannins will have a field day in your mouth.
- Slurp and enjoy.
Vincent takes no milk. Adding it will take away the subtle Darjeeling layer and leave you with a milky version of Assam with Earl Grey.
They are not a favourite in Ireland but the glass allows you to watch the leaves unfold, bleeding slowly into the hot water and turning it into the desired colour.
Using a glass pot with a warmer will highlight the tea's colour perfectly and create a cosy, relaxing atmosphere.
We also tried a few variations to see if we could improve the formula. For example, we used a Ceylon or Keemun tea instead of the Assam (just alright), or tried a different Darjeeling (First Flush Margarets Hope too subtle, Second Flush Makaibari works very well, just more expansive). Adding some smoky Lapsang Souchong overpowers the other flavours. The only worthy variation is the replacement of Earl Grey with the Black Lemon tea. The blend becomes less subtle and 'perfumed' but gains a stronger citrus flavour. Totally depends on one's preference.
Our "Strike Out " Blend
To honour this enjoyable tea education we created a "Strike Out" blend. It is exactly according to Vincent's above recipe. Please follow this link to get your own TV celebrity tea.
We would love to hear from if you have another recipe or variation you would like to share with us.
If we like your blend, you can name it yourself and we will add it to our range.
Happy experimenting and Thank you for reading this far.
Martin - House of Tea