Tea Concentrate for Crowds
Simple Concentrate Instructions:
Brewing tea for a crowd can be a daunting task. To lessen the pressures on the tea preparation it's helpful to create a 'tea concentrate' that is prepared the day before itís needed. It is then kept refrigerated until served, simply doled out in small portions to each teapot and topped off with hot water to taste. This method also eliminates the necessity of the strainers at each table, the emptying of tea leaves from the pots, the rinsing, the unending stream of boiling water and the critical timing aspects... who needs it?
Concentrate Directions: 1 full packet of Tea Time Garden Tea - 1Ĺ quarts boiling water. Pour entire contents of Tea Time Garden tea packet into a large, clean container, such as a heatproof glass pitcher (Pyrex) or a stockpot. It needs to be at least 2 quart capacity. The tea needs lots of room to re-hydrate. Cramping this process will result in weak tea with little flavor.
*** You can reduce these amounts for smaller amounts of concentrate since it can only be kept in the refrigerator for two days!
**** Make sure that it is not made of aluminum which reacts badly with tea, and that it does not have *any* residue of other flavors.
Any container that had coffee in it will not work. Coffee contains oils (will NEVER be totally cleaned off) that penetrate the inside of the vessel and will ruin your tea experience. Never use water heated in a coffee maker.
In a kettle heat the fresh clean water to boiling (rolling boil with bubble action - not boiled in a microwave). When the water is really boiling, pour it over the tea leaves and let steep, not on the heat. Do not use microwaved water.
THE STEEPING TIME IS THE MOST CRITICAL PART OF THE ENTIRE PROCEEDURE.
Make sure to follow the brewing (steeping) time suggestion on the tea packet label. If it gives a suggested time of 3-5 minutes, choose 4 minutes. If it's 2-4 minutes, choose 3 minutes. Brewing tea, especially a concentrate recipe, for even a minute or two past it's suggested time will result in a bitter brew. Use a timer!
When the tea has brewed for the correct time, pour the tea liquid and tea leaves through a large finely screened strainer into a pitcher that can be placed into the refrigerator. If you do not have a fine meshed strainer you may use a strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth. Give the wet tea leaves a good squeeze to remove some of the moisture. (you will note that the leaves really swell up and take up a lot of the water when re-hydrated)
When ready to serve, take a small amount of the tea concentrate and place into the teapot. Top off with hot (near boiling, or boiling) water. Each tea will result in a different amount of concentrate used. For example... Strawberry-Rose tea may need Ĺ cup of the concentrate to make a six cup pot of tea. Licorice Spice may require more or less of the concentrate for the same size pot. Experiment to get the right percentage per flavor.
NOTES: Do not brew tea too long, trying to make it stronger. You will only end up with a very bitter brew. It's the amount of tea that determines strength, not how long it brews.
Prepare your strainer/colander, cheesecloth or whatever while the tea is brewing so that you do not make it wait longer than the exact minutes required. USE A TIMER.
Make the tea on the 'weak' side, rather than strong. Everyone can imagine a tea stronger, but no one can imagine an overly strong tea weaker. Most people prefer it on the weak side. If someone really wants it stronger, you can add a splash more concentrate to their pot.
Green teas brew at a lower temperature. Using boiling water on green teas will result in a very bitter, almost 'stewed' tea.
TO PREPARE A GREEN TEA CONCENTRATE: proceed with each step up to boiling the water. Bring the water to a 'rolling' boil as for all other teas, but rather than immediately pouring it over the green tea leaves, take the kettle off the heat and let the water stand for one minute. During this time the water temperature will drop to the appropriate range for brewing green teas correctly. Continue with instructions as for all other teas.