March 2010 Issue
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Brewing of the Green

by Cynthia Fazekas

Green tea should not = bad medicine.

Looking to refresh your tea service? March is a great month to celebrate Irish heritage with St Patrick's Day and the awakening of Spring with fine green teas. While Irish Breakfast might be the traditional brew of the occasion, the great popularity of green teas should also be embraced.

If your usual clientele is a little skittish when it comes to green teas, it very well could be that they have not had it brewed properly. When we say "properly" here we don't mean with pomp and circumstance and pinkies extended (although you can add fanfare as much as you wish.) We mean over-heated, over-brewed green tea resulting in a sharp, astringent, too-tangy-for-a-newbie's-palate unpleasant cup. Bleh! Remember to watch the brewing guidelines for green tea. Generally speaking, about 1 tsp per cup, water temp about 180 degrees F for not more than 3 minutes. Explain to them that they can play around with these parameters to suit their own taste. One of the many beautiful attributes of tea is that you can adjust it so many ways to achieve one's perfect cup.

With so many reputed good health benefits happily hanging out in fine, fresh green tea leaves, make March the month to entice your customers to give it another try. If they can find a simple flavored green tea to enjoy regularly, they could still reap the benefits as well and the thing we seek most from a cup of fine tea: Enjoyment!

Some teas that are easy on a tea newbie are any flavored green. We suggest apricot, citrus and even a nice vanilla. A non-flavored tea that newbies find “less grassy” and less intimidating are the Japanese classic Genmaicha. With its roasted rice delicious toastiness and fresh green leaves the result is an instant comfort food full-mouth feel. China Gunpowder green tea is also a nice transitional tea for people. The smokiness softens the green tea taste and invokes a feeling of homey relaxation. Add a sprig of mint to add a refreshing note.

Whatever you choose to expose them to be sure to make the offering non-committal. Samples of brewed tea should be offered so they can experiment and feel safe leaving their comfort zone. Encourage them to sample a tea a couple times. This will help their taste buds to fully process these new sensations. Finally, and we cannot stress enough - be sure to not let the tea over brew and become a bitter experience.