Category Archives: Fun Facts

Let’s Get Serious About Tea

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BS 6008:1980 specifies the appropriate dimensions for tea pots and bowls.

The English are experts on tea and they feel such a responsibility for it that, in 1980, the British Standards Institute issued a 6-page paper on the results of some extremely important tea-related research.

The paper, British Standard BS 6008:1980, was later adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (the member body of Ireland dissenting) as International Standard ISO 3103:1980 “Tea — Preparation of liquor for use in sensory tests.” The entire document can be downloaded from the ISO for a little less than $45.00 and, while there are some key tips the lay person can apply to brewing tea at home, the method was really created for use in taste-testing by tea producers who require flavor consistency across blends, harvests, etc.

But don’t think the English are any less serious about brewing tea at home! Anyone who is serious about tea—and that must be everyone who drinks tea—respects the way it’s been done for centuries and, first, must master a traditional English black tea, like an Earl Grey loose leaf.

Steps for Brewing Black Tea

  1. Put fresh, cold, filtered water into a tea kettle and heat on the stove top—NEVER a microwave!
  2. Pre-heat your teapot with hot water.
  3. Add 1 tsp. of loose leaf tea to the teapot (or about 1 bag) for each cup.
  4. Add one extra teaspoon of tea (or 1 extra bag) “for the pot!”
  5. As soon as the water reaches a rolling boil, pour it into the teapot, cover, and steep according to taste (3 to 5 minutes is standard).
  6. Pre-heat your tea cups with hot water.
  7. If you take your tea with milk, add a splash to your cup and then pour in the tea.
  8. If desired, add 1 lump or 2 of sugar (or 1 or 2 sugar cubes).

Once this method has been mastered, move on to green teas, white teas, or herbal teas. Each requires different handling, but brewing charts are available on the websites of nearly every major tea manufacturer.

Understanding Foodservice Glassware Terminology

Marketing departments try to describe their products in the most enticing ways possible, but sometimes that leaves buyers wondering which descriptors actually mean something (if anything).

Mixed drinks in Anchor glasses

Image: The Anchor Hocking Company

When it comes to foodservice glassware, there are many branded terms, seals, and registered trademarks used to make one product sound more advantageous than another, but most manufacturers also use terminology that’s scientifically founded. The following terms are commonly used to describe commercial-quality drinking glasses. We’ve written out some non-scientific definitions that will help the next time you’re comparing products and shopping within a budget.

  • Annealing – controlled heating and cooling of glass that makes it more durable against cracking or shattering in response to temperature change. Annealed glass shatters into extremely sharp shards from very small to very large.
  • Heat-Strengthening – similar to tempering. Heat-strengthened glass is 2x as strong as annealed glass. Heat-strengthened glass breaks into shards that are less likely to shatter.
  • Rim-Tempering – applying the tempering process to only the rim of a drinking glass. Chips and cracks often begin at the rim, where a glass is most likely to endure shock. Rim-tempering offers added durability at a lower cost than a fully-tempered piece. Both Anchor and Cardinal refer to glassware treated in this way as “Rim-Tempered.”
  • Tempering – heating glass above its annealing point and cooling it rapidly. Tempered glass is up to 6x as strong as annealed glass. Tempered glass shatters somewhat uniformly into small, dull-edged piece. Cardinal refers to glassware treated this way as “Fully Tempered” and “Extra Resistant.” Libbey uses the term “heat-treated” for fully-tempered pieces and also for blown glass which is treated only along the top portion.
  • Toughening – see tempering.

History & How-To: Shrub Cocktails

Ruth Hartnup, Flickr Commons

Bar owners and restaurateurs nationwide began reinventing the Prohibition Era speak easy quite a few years ago, launching a craze for classic cocktails and the dashing mustachioed barkeeps who create them. But naturally, as when any style trend becomes conventional, foodie taste makers have had to move on to something new… or, in this case, truly old.

Introducing the shrub, a drink recipe colonial Americans brought with them from England.

A shrub is an alcoholic or non-alcoholic mixed drink built on the flavor of a shrub syrup (aka “a shrub”), which is a reduction of fruit, vinegar, and sweetener.

Shrub syrups are ideal for making use of cosmetically imperfect produce or an over-abundant harvest, something chefs new to managing their own farm-to-table yields may find valuable again here in the 21st century. Though the syrup is traditionally prepared with equal parts vinegar, sugar, and fruit, the possible flavor combinations are limitless when vegetables, herbs, and spices are used in addition to, or in place of, the fruit.

How To Make a Shrub Syrup:

Combine 1 part fruit and 1 part sugar, allow to rest until sugar has dissolved and combined with fruit juices to create a syrup. This could take up to a few days. Strain out the solids. Add 1 part vinegar and let the mixture mellow to taste. Once it’s ready, add it to this simple cocktail recipe.

Fruit Shrub Spritzer Recipe: