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Why Hand Blending Tea Impacts Taste

Hand Blending

Hand Blending Tea - Twist Teas

At Twist Teas we are passionate about providing the best tasting tea you’ve ever had. So how do we deliver on this promise? The secret to this lies in our unique approach to hand blending our ingredients.

Tea grade quality: whole leaf tea vs tea dust

whole leaf tea comparisonTea flavour is derived from the oil contained in the leaves and whole leaves contain the most oil. When tea leaves are picked, they are rolled and dried then sorted according to size. They are graded from whole leaves and buds to fannings and dust particles. Often fannings and tea dust, the lower grades of tea, are selected for use in tea bags by well-known brands. Twist, however, only selects top quality whole leaf tea for our blends and we do this to optimise flavour and health benefits.

Fresh full flavours

Whole leaves lock in more essential oils, flavour and aroma than smaller tea particles that dry out quickly and subsequently lose flavour. Twist whole leaf tea not only tastes amazing, but our skilled blending team also combines flavours and aromas that enhances the Twist tea drinking experience.

Health Benefits of whole leaf tea

whole leaf tea comparisonStudies show that whole leaf teas have a greater catechin content than smaller tea particles. Smaller tea particles have a lower catechin content than whole leaf, due to ‘greater leaf disruption’. Catechins are a group of antioxidants found most abundantly in green tea that can help reduce inflammation . To extract the most health benefits from green tea it is best to start with top quality, whole leaf tea.

Tea blending technique

The way that the tea leaves are handled during blending will determine taste. Other tea brands recognise the importance of using whole leaf tea, but their production process breaks the leaves, allowing the oil to evaporate, taking with it much of the flavour. Often larger tea companies use quick, cost-efficient methods of production such as machine blending. At Twist we prefer to hand blend our tea in smaller batches. This is undoubtably a slower, more labour-intensive method of blending; however, it is a far gentler process, ensuring less damage to the tea leaves. Not only this, but hand blending allows a greater depth of flavour. No two Twist tea bags will ever taste exactly the same!

Visit the Tasting Room to try some samples, or shop here. Discover more about how hand blending the finest whole leaf ingredients ensures our teas reach our wonderful customers in pristine condition and really delivers on taste by watching the video below.

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Tea Storage

The Perfect Brew

The Perfect Brew - Twist Teas

What is the best way to store tea?

Storing tea correctly is vital for preserving flavour. Tea quality begins to degrade if it is exposed to heat, moisture, odour, light and air. If properly stored, premium tea will stay fresh for at least 12 months. The following factors can affect the shelf life of your tea:

Heat

Long term exposure to heat can cause tea to degrade. Kitchens can get hot during the peak of service, and it is impossible to avoid all heat. We do recommend that you store your tea away from heat sources such as ovens where feasible.

Moisture

Tea releases its flavour when it comes into contact with water. This is great when we want to brew it, but not ideal if water is accidentally splashed onto the tea, or if the tea is being stored in a very humid environment. We recommend always closing the lid of your tea container as soon as you have taken some out. It’s also best not to store the tea too closely to sources of moisture and humidity such as the dishwasher or the cooktop.

Odour

Tea easily absorbs odour, which can work in its favour when creating scented tea such as All That Jazz or Wholly Smoke. On the flip side, if tea is kept very close to anything with a strong smell, such as coffee, the tea will start to take on that smell, thus altering the flavour. Ideally tea should be kept separate from anything with a particularly strong odour.

Light

Light, including sunlight, can cause tea to degrade quickly. We recommend that you store your tea in an opaque container and avoid leaving the lid open for prolonged periods of time.

Air

Twist Teas airtight tea caddiesExposing your tea to air by leaving the container open for too long will result in evaporation of the oils in the tea leaves, resulting in a reduction in flavour. Smaller tea particles as used by other tea companies tend to lose oils to evaporation faster than whole tea leaves. Choosing premium whole leaf tea and storing it in an airtight container is therefore recommended for brewing the best tasting tea.

Twist Teas’ opaque and airtight caddies keep our tea fresher and more flavoursome for longer as compared with the cardboard boxes favoured by larger tea companies. In addition, they look great and are ideal for keeping your shelves neat and tidy. Made from durable tinplate and aluminium, Twist’s caddies can easily be reused once empty by popping in one of our handy refill packs! Our refill bags are made from biodegradable wood pulp and your tea fresh too, just remember to reseal them when they’re not in use!

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Loose Leaf vs Tea Bags

The Perfect Brew

The Perfect Brew - Twist Teas

Does loose leaf tea taste better than tea bags?

Loose leaf tea brewing in tea potThere are some tea drinkers who swear that loose leaf tea is the only way to make the perfect brew. Brewing loose leaf tea allows the tea leaves to comfortably unfurl within the hot water, thereby releasing as much flavour as possible. The flat paper tea bags used by many, less premium, tea companies don’t let water circulate around the leaves in the same way and they can only hold smaller tea particles, not whole leaf tea.

At Twist all our blends are available in both looseleaf and pyramid tea bags. Loose leaf tea adds an element of theatre to the brewing process and is the economical option as long as you’ve got the necessary kit i.e. a teapot and strainer. Tea bags are a faster, more convenient option because you don’t need to measure the tea each time and they can be brewed in a cup or a mug. We recommend serving our teabags in glass teapots or cups to showcase the blends as they brew. If you are using looseleaf our teapots have an inbuilt filter system which means you don’t need a separate strainer. The looseleaf takes slightly longer than teabags to remove from our pots but this still only takes seconds and our pots are dishwasher proof.

How do our tea bags work? Fundamentally they allow Twist’s whole tea leaves to brew like loose leaf tea in a pot. The water can circulate easily within the tea bag and the tea leaves have enough space to expand and release their flavour. Twist only selects top quality whole leaf tea to optimise flavour and to closely replicate the loose-leaf experience.

It is important to note that both Twist’s loose-leaf tea and tea bags are compostable. The tea bags are made from cornsilk and corn silk, both completely natural products, with strings and tag sealed using an ultrasound heat process, thus negating the need for glue. They look great whether in a tea pot or in a mug and we suggest you leave them in and remove when brewed to taste.

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Brewing Time

The Perfect Brew

The Perfect Brew - Twist Teas

How long should tea be brewed?

Tea bag left in cupBrewing time is the length of time the tea bag or tea leaves are left to steep in hot water before it has a detrimental impact on taste. The length of time up to this point can vary according to personal taste. Some people love a very strong brew, while others like to whip their tea out almost immediately after the water has been poured. The size of leaves used also has a bearing on required brewing time. Smaller tea particles tend to release their flavour quickly while whole leaves take longer to do the same as they need time to unfurl.

As a guide, most Twist whole leaf blends take 3-5 minutes of brewing to release their flavour. The exception to this rule is our Great Taste Award winning TwentyFourSeven, a blend of organic Indian Assam and Kenyan black teas carefully cut to produce a strong and delicious tea in just two minutes. This is the perfect strong English breakfast blend for those in a hurry!

Rooibos and fruit and herbal blends can happily stay in the water as long as they like. These blends are not from the camellia sinesis plant and therefore do not contain tannins, compounds found in tea that can cause bitterness if too many are released during brewing.

As a rule of thumb it is best to remove the tea from the water after 5 minutes to avoid over brewing. If serving tea bags, we suggest leaving the tea bag in to allow the customer the choice of when to remove the tea.

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Water Temperature

The Perfect Brew

The Perfect Brew - Twist Teas

How does temperature affect taste?

Tea pots brewing whole leaf teaThe optimum temperature of water for brewing tea varies according to each tea type. Black teas taste best if brewed in water just off the boil but if you do the same to green or white tea you risk burning the leaves and creating a bitter brew.

Essentially this comes down to how each tea type is processed. The greater the amount of oxidation the tea has undergone, the hotter the water needs to be. Black teas are 100% oxidised during production and need very hot water to extract their strong malty flavours. Green and white teas, on the other hand, are minimally oxidised and therefore need cooler water to allow their sweet and delicate notes to shine through.

A temperature-controlled kettle is the easiest way to get this right. Failing that, if you have a regular kettle and you are brewing green or white tea it is best to wait a couple of minutes after the water has finished boiling before pouring it.

We have put together a temperature guide below, but don’t panic if you do accidentally pour boiling water on your Refresher Green tea or try to steep your TwentyFourSeven tea in 80°C water. Twist Teas blends are forgiving and are specially created in order to brew a delicious cup every time. When using Twist’s premium teas, it is difficult to make a bad cuppa.

The following temperatures are recommended for hot tea:

Black tea95-98°CThis means to pour the water when it has just finished boiling.
Green tea80°CWait 2-3 minutes after the kettle has boiled before pouring.
White tea80°CWait 2-3 minutes after the kettle has boiled before pouring.
Rooibos tea95-98°CPour the water when it has just finished boiling.
Fruit and herbal tea95-98°CPour the water when it has just finished boiling.
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