Gourmet Tea Steeping Guide and Tea Recipes

With Two Leaves and a Bud founder Richard Rosenfeld visiting this week, we were inspired by the many gourmet tea options available to passionate tea drinkers. From Earl Gray to Tamayokucha or Chamomile, tea can be transformational.

Like coffee, tea tastes better when properly brewed, and there are many things that can influence a brew. This includes the tea varietal, tea quality, tea type (leaf, bag or powder), water temperature, steep time and even vessel type.Two Leaves TeaPot and Black Cup

As a general rule, we recommend steeping your tea in a ceramic vessel, but glass is also a great option as well. Metal is best to be avoided as it can give an unwanted taste to your teas. We suggest you use filtered water and avoid tap water. Tap water has chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine to treat it and those can alter the taste

A guide for steeping tea
Stockton Graham & Co Gourmet Tea Steeping Guide

Download steeping guide.

When deciding what you want from a cup of freshly steeped loose tea there are a few choices you will have to make. Choices such as what type of tea do you want. For a single serving you will use 1 to 1.5 heaping teaspoons of loose tea (hence the name teaspoon!).

Green tea: The most popular type of tea, some loose green teas are scented with flowers or mixed with fruits. It can be re-steeped 3-4 times. Boil water to 175º F and steep for 2-3 mins.

Oolong: Also known as wu long, this is full-bodied with a flavorful fragrance and sweet fragrance. Can be re-steeped 3-4 times to get maximum value and flavor. Boil water to 195º F and steep for 2-4 mins.

White tea: The purest and least processed of all teas.  This loose leaf-tea brews a light color and flavor. These can be re-steeped 3-4 times. Boil water to 175º F and steep for 2-3 mins.

Black: Known for more pronounced flavors, and, when brewed appropriately, it has a higher caffeine content compared to other teas. Most will recognize this as the tea used for most iced teas. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 3-5 mins.

Pu-erh: An aged black tea from China prized for its medicinal properties and earthy flavor. This is a very strong tea with an incredibly deep and rich flavor, and no bitterness. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 2-5 mins.

Herbal: Does not contain any leaves from the Camellia plant family, these are broken into three categories: rooibos teas, mate teas, and herbal infusions. Herbal infusions consist of pure herbs, flowers, spices and fruits. Boil water to 212º F and steep for 6-7 mins.

A few “Mother, May I” tea recipesFriday Tea Recipes

Alpine Berry Tea Cosmo
1 oz vodka infused with Alpine Berry Tea from Two Leaves and a Bud
1/2 oz triple sec
1/4 oz Monin Lime syrup
1/2 oz cranberry juice

Directions: To infuse the alcohol, soak 3-4 Organic Alpine Berry Whole Leaf sachets from Two Leaves and a Bud for 4-8 hours (any more than 8 hours will make the alcohol bitter).

Remove tea sachets from infused vodka. Shake vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge on the rim, and serve.

Bourbon Blood Orange and White Peach Tea Punch
8 oz brewed Paisley Organic Tart Blood Orange Herbal Iced Tea
2 oz bourbon
2 oz Monin White Peach Syrup
1 oz Da Vinci Lemonade Concentrate
12 oz Ice
(Optional Sliced peaches to garnish)

Directions: Shake tea, bourbon, and syrups vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain over ice and garnish with a peach slice or muddle the peach slices into tea mixture, and serve.

Vanilla Honey Milk tea
16 oz brewed Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean
1 ½ oz Torani Real Cream Frappe base
½ oz honey
12 oz Ice

Directions: Shake tea, frappe base and honey together. Pour over ice and serve.

Green-Tea Cranberry Spritzer
8 oz chilled brewed Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical
1 oz Torani Cane Sugar Sweetener
3 oz chilled unsweetened cranberry juice
3 oz chilled seltzer
12 oz Ice

Directions: Shake Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical, cranberry juice and Cane Sugar Syrup vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain over ice and charge with seltzer and serve.

Watermelon and Blackberry Iced Black Tea
12 oz Ice
1 oz Monin Watermelon Fruit Purée
7 oz brewed Mighty Leaf Wild Blackberry tea

Directions: Fill serving glass with ice. Add remaining ingredients. Stir or transfer from serving glass to other glass and back. Garnish with fresh watermelon.

For more information on brewing tea or to place an order, call a Customer Care Associate at 800.835.5943.

Create an Iced Tea Program Today!

Is iced tea on your menu? It should be. It’s easy to make and can bring in extra cash in hot weather when coffee sales tend to fall. A typical café has almost everything needed to start a distinctive, successful iced tea program… here’s how to get started.

Many commercial coffee brewers can brew iced tea. You may need to program or calibrate the machine for tea, and you may need a special baskets or dispensers, but these things are much easier and cheaper than buying a seperate tea brewer. The same clear cups or glasses you use for other cold drinks are ideal for iced tea, too. Brewing is made even easier by using proportioned filter bags, which require no equipment. All that’s left is deciding what kind of tea to use.

The tea you choose to brew will influence how your iced tea program compares to others. Iced tea is available at fast food drive-thrus, nearly any restaurant, and other cafés. If you serve the same instant-brew dust teas offered for sale at burger joints and on supermarket shelves, you’ll never distinguish your tea program from more downscale ones. You wouldn’t serve instant coffee, would you?

Whole-leaf teas produce more flavorful, fresh-tasting iced tea. Mighty Leaf and Two Leaves & A Bud both offer excellent whole-leaf iced tea. Each 1-oz filter bag brews one gallon of iced tea, and we offer black and flavored tea for an average cost of around a penny per (liquid) ounce. If you serve 16-oz glasses of iced tea, 8 ounces will be taken up by ice, so you’ll be serving 8 ounces of tea per drink. One gallon yields 16 servings, so your cost per serving is about five to ten cents, plus the cost of your cups, lids, and other materials.

As you can see, high quality doesn’t necessarily mean high cost. Iced tea is a high-margin item, but high profit margins can be a double-edged sword. You can make a lot of profit from them, but only if your customers buy it. The key to building and maintaining high sales on iced tea is building your customers’ perception of its value.

Better tea demands better presentation to convey its quality. Imagine how attractive your iced tea would be in a chilled glass rimmed with sugar. Add a fresh wedge of lemon or lime, maybe even a sprig of mint. A drink’s appearance goes a long way toward making the first sale, and that’s as true for iced tea as it is for anything else. A good-looking drink that’s made from premium ingredients and tastes great is worth more than the fast food alternative, and your pricing should also reflect that.

You should also consider what position iced tea plays in your sales strategy. The corporate chains usually put their iced tea in three offers: the drink by itself, the drink with meals, and the drink in quantity. Alone, the 16-oz iced tea sells for around $1.19. But it’s offered for free with meal combos, and if you want to get a whole half-gallon, it sells for only $1.99. You can even get free half-gallons with family-sized combos. They establish the value of the tea alone then use it as an incentive to entice you to order items that build larger ticket totals. You probably do something similar with your coffees already, discounting muffins sold with cups of drip. Iced tea is a natural fit with lunch menus, particularly in warmer weather. You can even encourage group sales by offering pitchers for tables.

However you position iced tea, distinguishing the product as premium will increase sales. The secret is to offer more than one class of iced tea. You offer your basic iced tea with free refills. Ideally, this drink will have a more appealing presentation than the corporate chain’s tea—maybe you can use simple syrup instead of sugar in the sweetened version. You also definitely need to offer a specialty iced tea that customers won’t find at the typical corporate chain, and you can do that with materials that you probably have on hand. A flavored syrup like Torani Pomegranate or Raspberry can make an excellent flavored iced tea, and it’s as simple as adding a shot. You can make a wide variety of drinks with the syrups you currently have on hand.

Both classes of tea can be prepared from one batch, since you can flavor each individual serving differently. Simply charge more for the flavored tea with no refills, or charge for each flavor added. As a pleasant side effect, the option to add flavorings and garnishes gives the customer the sense of choice and control that makes specialty beverages so appealing in the first place. It’s a simple up-sell for your baristas as well: “Would you like to add some peach syrup for .75¢?”

To sweeten or not to sweeten, that is the question! The last thing you will want to consider is whether to serve sweetened or unsweetened tea. If you’re in North Carolina (or other southern states for that matter), you will definitely want to have both sweetened and unsweetened tea available. For shops north of Virginia, you may just want to have simple syrup on hand so customers can sweeten as they please. You may also want to consider offering several varieties in addition to black. Ginger-Peach, Alpine Berry and Calypso Mango are all popular choices as well.

The corporate chains often set new trends, but as independent operations, you have the flexibility to add new items easily and often with better quality, so keep your eyes peeled for other hot ideas from the “big boys”!