The Best Way to Make Tea

Have you ever wondered what goes into the perfect cup of tea? It’s not sugar and milk, but rather knowledge about minerals, temperatures, and time, although sugar certainly never hurts. Whether you own a cafe or are simply hoping to become a tea connoisseur, you can refer to the infographic below as a quick and easy guide to tea brewing. For a more detailed breakdown of how to brew the best cup of tea, read on to learn more.


An important first step to brewing a great cup of tea is making sure you have the proper supplies and ingredients.

The Best Water for Making Tea

Water is obviously a key ingredient to any cup of tea, but not all water is equal.

  • If you’re using tap water, make sure it’s fresh and cold. You’ll want to avoid tap water that’s been sitting in your kettle for any length of time or that’s been previously boiled. The reason you should use cold water from the tap (as opposed to warm or hot water) is because hot tap water tends to carry more minerals, like calcium and lime, that will affect the flavor of your tea.
  • Spring water is preferable to distilled water because it contains just the right amount and type of minerals that will bring out the best flavors.

Tea Brewing Methods

There are so many different ways to brew tea, and many of them simply come down to personal preference. If you’re going with a loose leaf tea, there are a number of equipment options to choose from.

Tea Ball Infuser

Steeping with a Tea Ball Infuser

These unique infusers are basically mesh spheres with a hinge, which allows you to fill them with loose tea and then clasp them shut. Tea ball infusers work essentially the same way as tea bags, in that you dip them into hot water, and then pull them out when it’s fully steeped. The advantage of using these handy little devices is that they can be used again and again, where tea bags must be thrown away. Another advantage is that you can mix your own blends of different tea varieties to create a signature blend for your restaurant or cafe.

Making Tea in a French Press

You may be familiar with a French press for brewing coffee, but you may not realize that this device can also be used to make tea. One advantage of using a French press to make tea is that you can brew several cups at once. Another advantage of this tool is that you can steep and serve in the same vessel. One of the drawbacks, however, is that you run the risk of over-steeping your tea because the leaves are not removed after brewing, but simply sit at the bottom of the press.

Tea Brewing Strainers

Tea strainers sit over your cup and hold loose leaf tea in a small mesh basket. Tea is made by pouring hot water on top of the leaves, allowing it to pass over them and flow through the mesh of the strainer. The strainer is then removed from the top of the cup before serving. This technique is not very popular and doesn’t give you much control over the length of your brewing time, but if you’re looking to give your customers an elegant and interactive tea experience, this is a good option.

Using a Paper Sachet to Brew Tea

You can purchase ready-made paper pouches for brewing loose leaf tea, or make your own from a coffee filter or other similar foodsafe paper. This option is convenient for when easy cleanup is a priority because paper teabags are disposable, which will save you time during cleanup.

Tea Pot

Making Tea in a Teapot

If you’re not interested in any of the aforementioned contraptions for brewing your tea, a good old teapot is always a great choice. But, as with many aspects of the brewing process, not all teapots will deliver the same results. Many teapots have built-in strainers that assist in the infusion process, but others will require the use of a separate straining device. Another major factor to consider is how the material of your teapot retains heat and what tea brewing temperature is ideal for your type of tea (which we’ll get into a little later).

  • Iron - Teapots made of iron are common for serving Asian-style green teas, but keep in mind that iron retains heat for a long time, making it a better option for teas that need to be brewed at a higher temperature, such as black tea.
  • Glass - Glass teapots not only beautifully showcase the color of your tea but also retain heat well. This means they will deliver the ideal green tea temperature and are great for white tea, as well.

Factors that Impact Tea Flavor

As with any culinary endeavor, there are several factors that will affect the flavor of your product. Knowing the way in which each of these factors impacts your tea will help you come up with a brewing system that works best for you.

Tea Brewing Temperature

A common mistake when brewing tea is to let the water come to a rolling boil. The state of boiling releases oxygen from the water, which prevents your tea from reaching its fullest flavor potential. Different types of tea also taste best when steeped at different temperatures. For example, green tea temperature should be different from black tea. The temperatures in the table below are shown in Fahrenheit.

Tea Type Ideal Tea Steeping Temperature
White Tea 175
Green Tea 175
Oolong 195
Black Tea 195-205
Mate 208
Rooibos 208
Other Herbal 208

As you can see, many types of tea taste best when brewed just before the water reaches its boiling point (of 212 degrees Fahrenheit). Even if your water has reached a boil and cools down to the ideal temperature, it still will have released oxygen, so it’s best to start over with new water at that point.

Tea Steep Time

Hot Tea

Determining the brew times for tea can be tricky because times can vary widely depending on the type of tea you’re using. On top of that, there are subtle flavors that will emerge as your tea steeps, and many people have different preferences as to which of those flavors is most appealing to them. So, even though there may be a broad guideline for each general variety of tea, it’s suggested that you test out any tea that is new to you and taste it every 30 seconds as it steeps to find the flavor that is best for you. Taking the time to explore these flavor developments will also give you valuable knowledge that you can use while describing each tea to your customers. Explaining the nuances of your teas will impress customers and can help them decide which teas they’d like to try.

Amount of Loose Tea Leaves

Many people think that the longer you brew your tea, the stronger it will be, but the truth is that extending your steeping time will only bring out bitter flavors. If you want your tea to taste stronger, add more tea leaves.

The basic rule of thumb for tea proportions is to use 2 grams of tea for every 8oz of water (more if it's a fluffy variety, like chamomile.)

How to Brew the Best Iced Tea

Classic Southern Sweet Tea

You can use the same tea leaves that you would use for hot tea to make delicious iced tea. There are a few different ways you can brew iced tea, but regardless of which method you choose, you should always double the amount of tea leaves that you would use for a hot cup to ensure a robust and flavorful iced drink. As for iced tea-making techniques, the three most common include:

  • Hot brew - This is likely the most common technique for brewing iced tea, and it basically entails creating a concentrated batch of hot tea that you then pour over ice and refrigerate. When using a hot brew method, you should add your sugar or honey while the tea is still hot so that it dissolves more completely.
  • Cold brew - This method does not entail heating at any point in the process, but rather relies on time to draw flavors out of your tea leaves. Simply place your chosen infusing device in a container of cold water and let it sit in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours. As for sweeteners, agave or simple syrup are a good choice for a cold brew, since they dissolve more easily than regular granulated sugar.
  • Sun brew - You may have heard of “sun tea.” This technique is pretty much as simple as it sounds. Just place your tea bag or tea ball in a translucent container of cold water and set it in the sun for a few hours. You can finish your sun tea with fruit juice for a concoction that is entirely your own.

Tea Brewing FAQs

How can I avoid tea leaves settling at the bottom of my cup?

The truthful answer to this question is that if you’re using loose leaf tea, there is no surefire way to prevent some straggler leaves from escaping. The best thing to do about this problem is to simply change your attitude about those pesky little leaves and instead embrace them. The art of tea leaf reading is a magical tradition in many cultures. And in most tea-drinking cultures around the world, it’s customary to leave a centimeter or two of liquid at the bottom of your cup because that’s where the leaves stay, and that’s okay!

Can I make tea in the microwave?

Making tea in the microwave is not recommended because the sharp increase in the temperature of your water impacts the flavor and can cause bitterness.

Can I use the same tea leaves more than once?

Yes. Most kinds of tea stand up well to multiple steepings. The flavor and caffeine won’t be as strong, but as long as it’s not oversteeped or brewed at too high a temperature, you shouldn’t have to worry about bitterness.


As you can see, there’s more that goes into the perfect cup of tea than meets the eye. Also, the more you know about your different varieties of tea, the more prepared you’ll be for answering any questions customers may have. So, next time you go to brew a cup of tea, keep in mind these simple tricks that will enhance the natural flavors of your tea and help you get the most enjoyment out of your hot beverage.

To find other great information about the difference between types of tea, be sure to check out our buying guide.

Posted in: Coffee Shop Supplies | By Jessica Wieser

Becoming a Pastry Chef: From Student to Professional

kajal

Nowadays, there are a lot of television shows about cakes, pastries, and desserts. It can be easy to fall into fantasies about sparkling sweet confections, drizzled with chocolate and sculpted from fondant. But becoming a pastry chef is hard work. Not to mention the financial commitment if you don’t receive a scholarship. So, before you take the leap into a new career, it’s a good idea to do some research first. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to attend baking and pastry school, the best way to get a sense of the experience is to talk with someone who’s lived it.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Kajal Narang, who graduated from the pastry program at L’Academie de Cuisine and is now working as a pastry chef at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Her journey from pastry student to pastry chef required a lot of hard work and dedication. Through this interview, she gave us an idea of what it’s really like to attend pastry school, and what advice becomes especially useful as you enter a career in this industry.

Pastry Chef FAQs

We asked Kajal some of the most common questions an aspiring pastry chef might have before enrolling in a culinary program. Here’s what she had to say.

Q: How long is pastry school?

A: The pastry program at my school was only 1 year long and 6 months of that year was at an externship at a hotel, restaurant, or catering company of your choice. 6 months will give you the foundation you need, but it won't make you an expert in all things pastry (or savory). Working on your skills outside of school will only help you succeed further in the industry.

Q: What hours do pastry chefs work?

A: Sometimes I have 15 hour days because as soon as I get out of school, I go to work at a bakery. By the time I get off work, my back hurts and my feet are aching, but I live for that feeling. I thrive off of the exhaustion and it feels like an adrenaline rush. It takes up most of my day so I don’t sit around all day watching Food Network, just dreaming of making those dishes.

Q: How much experience is required going into pastry school?

pastry

A: I know there are some of you out there who don’t know whether or not to choose culinary school because of your level of experience. While experience is probably one of the most important things in food service, it is called culinary school for a reason; if you knew everything, then you wouldn’t be there. I’m not very experienced myself, but I learn new things every single day. I firmly believe that if you are passionate about cooking or baking, then culinary school is definitely the way to go.

Going to culinary school has helped me get a basic understanding and knowledge of pastry. It laid out a foundation for me that has ultimately helped to shape my career into what it is today. I was provided with the tools and knowledge from some great instructors to kick-start my career in the industry. I feel that going to culinary school has helped me learn and understand the functions of ingredients and which flavor profiles work and don't work together.

Q: What is the best part of pastry school?

A: The one thing that I love about the food industry, other than the food itself, is the people. I’ve never been at a school where I see ages range so widely. Anyone can enter the food industry at any age. I encounter people of all different skill levels and different walks of life, and it’s great! I personally love meeting new people, so working with my classmates or eating lunch with the culinary students is always a blast. I love hearing others’ opinions about food and school, because everyone’s view is different.

Additional Tips for Success in Pastry School

  • Arrive early and help out whenever or wherever you are needed.
  • Develop relationships with instructors as well as classmates. These are the people that will help you and motivate you to succeed in the industry.
  • Keep up with the notes and homework. Making delicious pastries is only one part of culinary school; writing recipes and maintaining your notebook is a big part of your grade.
  • Work hard and stay humble. Graduating from culinary school doesn't automatically make you a chef. Know when to ask for help and realize that the chefs that you are working with or learning from have worked long and hard to get to where they are today; learn as much as you can from them.

As you can see, becoming a pastry chef requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and long hours. But if you truly have a passion for the craft and are willing to put in the time and effort, pastry school can be a rewarding experience. We are glad to hear that Kajal is enjoying her career and we wish her all the best for her future.

Posted in: Bakery Supplies | By Jessica Wieser

Slim Down Your Restaurant Menu for the New Year

Losing weight, maintaining a healthier lifestyle, and spending less money are some of the top New Year’s resolutions. While this may create an obstacle for foodservice professionals, there are ways to make restaurant menus more appealing to resolutioners, so they continue to dine out at your establishment. We'll go over 5 simple changes you can make either to your menu or to your food preparation techniques, so you can offer a healthy restaurant menu year-round.

1. Use Symbols to Show Customers Healthier Menu Options

Many restaurants offer healthier alternatives all the time without making their menu any longer than it already is.

To create a healthy restaurant menu without making it lengthier, simply add a legend, and make sure it’s visible to your customers. Then, place symbols from the legend next to the appetizer, salad, entree, and side options that can be prepared in a healthier way, if requested by the customer.

If you’re thinking about adding a legend to your menu, then check out our sample menu key below. Each numbered image corresponds with the number in the list below the key.

  1. Grill - A grill shows that chicken, sandwiches, patties, fish, and other foods can be grilled rather than sauteed, deep fried, or cooked in butter.
  2. Leaf - A leaf shows that pasta dishes, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and other foods can be made vegetarian.
  3. V - A “V” shows that vegetarian dishes can be made vegan.
  4. Grain - A grain shows that sandwiches, subs, and wraps can be made with whole grains instead of white flour.
  5. Zigzag - A zigzag symbol inside of an oven shows that crab cakes, seafood, meats, and poultry can be broiled rather than deep fried or sauteed in butter.
  6. Vegetable - A vegetable shows that certain meals can be made with organic ingredients.
  7. Sugar-Free - A sugar-free symbol shows that desserts or drinks can be made without real sugar.

2. Offer Lunch-Sized Portions for Dinner

Even when people vow to lead healthier lifestyles in the new year, they may still want to enjoy a night out with family and friends. To help customers order their favorite foods without splurging on calories and cash, offer meals in smaller, lunch-size portions and at cheaper prices.

For example, you can turn a 700 calorie entree that consists of grilled salmon, a loaded baked potato, and steamed vegetables into a lower calorie, lunch-sized meal by simply cutting the serving sizes in half. Additionally, offering smaller portions not only benefits your customers, but it also helps your restaurant reduce its amount of food waste.

3. Show Calorie Counts on Your Menu and Website

When people try to lose weight, they usually start counting calories. Since many diet applications require users to log their caloric intake, showing these numbers right on the menu will help customers record their data more quickly.

Plus, the FDA has required that most chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments make this nutritional information publicly available to their customers. Check out some of the restaurants that list calorie counts on their menus and websites below:

4. Make Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

We understand that using healthier ingredient substitutions can sometimes be expensive, and these ingredients may alter the way you want your fried appetizers, savory entrees, or sweet desserts to taste. Instead, only make basic changes that won't add too much to your spending costs or alter the look and flavor of your food. Implement some of the tips below, so you can create a healthy restaurant menu:

  • Use higher-quality oils, like coconut oil, olive oil, and peanut oil, with your fryer when preparing french fries, tenders, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks. Try to stay away from oils with higher levels of polyunsaturated fats, like soybean oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil.
  • Use natural juices or sugar-free flavoring syrups when making cocktails.
  • Use freshly-squeezed fruit juices and natural extracts in sauces, baked goods, and entrees.
  • Drizzle olive oil over top of your vegetables rather than soaking them in butter.
  • Season your woks and fry pans to form a natural non-stick cooking surface. This eliminates the need to add unnecessary fat to your meals.
  • Offer brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Use olive oil and vinegar instead of creamy, fatty dressings.
  • Cook with low-sodium soy sauce and don’t add a lot of salt to your meals.
  • Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in your baked goods, when possible.

5. Offer Leaner Cuts of Meat

Although it’s pretty much impossible to discourage carnivores from ordering a juicy cheeseburger, a savory rib-eye, or fried chicken legs, it is possible to offer healthier alternatives to these fattening options.

By cooking with leaner cuts of meat, customers can cut out half the amount of fat and calories, allowing them to stick to their New Year's resolutions. When planning out your meat entrees and daily specials, be sure to consider some of the following tips:

  • Offer steaks with sirloin or round in the title, since these tend to have lower fat contents than rib-eyes.
  • Use ground beef that’s at least 83% lean.
  • Take the skin off of chicken and fish.
  • Serve light meat instead of dark meat whenever possible.
  • Cook lean cuts of meat in a healthy way. For example, broil or grill your meat, fish, or poultry rather than sauteeing or deep frying it.
  • Don’t add any unnecessary fats like butter and cream when preparing your lean cuts.
  • Offer red meat burger alternatives, like turkey, chicken, bean, and vegetable burgers.

If you’re worried about customers watching their calories and counting their dollars this New Year, then try slimming down your menu. By implementing some of the ideas we’ve gone over above, you’ll be able to adapt your menu to keep the resolutioners coming into your restaurant for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Posted in: Health & Wellness | By Ashley Kufera

Celebrate Hanukkah with these 5 Classic Jewish Recipes

While many Americans are still feeling stuffed from their bountiful Thanksgiving dinner, around 5 million people are preparing their stomachs for another holiday filled with delicious homemade meals. No it’s not Christmas, but Hanukkah! This eight day holiday is celebrated in honor of a menorah that only had enough oil to burn for one day, but miraculously lasted for eight days. Because of this, many Hanukkah recipes are deep fried with oil as a symbol of the miracle oil. From crispy potato latkes to sweet, jelly filled sufganiyot, there’s an abundance of delicious dishes that you can add to your menu this Hanukkah.

1. Chopped Liver Spread Recipe

This creamy and rich appetizer is a signature dish at any Jewish holiday. While most families traditionally spread it over matzo, you can serve it in your restaurant with rye crackers or slices of baguette. Chopped liver spread is quick and easy to make and consists of just four simple ingredients: schmaltz (also known as chicken fat), beef or chicken livers, onion, and hard boiled eggs. For extra flavor, sprinkle in some garlic, thyme, or bay-leaves. Another traditional option is to include gribenes, which is crispy chicken or duck skin mixed with onions. Check out this this classic recipe from Tori Avey.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb chicken liver
  • 1/4 cup schmaltz, divided
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 hardboiled eggs, peeled and diced (divided)
  • 1/2 cup gribenes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Equipment You Will Need: Food processor, Skillet

Latkes

2. Latkes Recipe

Latkes, also commonly known as potato pancakes, are shallow-fried, shredded potatoes. Think hash browns, but much crispier! While these little pancakes are typically made from grated potatoes, they can also be made from mashed potatoes and various other vegetables. Latkes make for a great breakfast option or can be used as a side dish. Serve them up plain, topped with sour cream, or with a side of apple sauce. This recipe from Food Renegade includes tips to make the perfect latkes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups prepared mashed potatoes
  • 5 tbsp. onion, grated
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3 tbsp. your preferred fat for pan frying

Equipment You Will Need:Large mixing bowl, Turner

3. Brisket Recipe

Juicy and flavorful brisket is typically served as the main entree at Hanukkah dinners. Since this cut of meat is served very tender, it does take a few hours to cook, so you’ll want to have this dish prepped in advance. Brisket is usually cooked and served with a variety of stewed vegetables like carrots and potatoes. However, you're free to add your own signature twist to it, like in this recipe from What Jew Wanna Eat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3- to 4-pound brisket, not trimmed
  • 1 tbsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 12 red potatoes, quartered
  • 6 peeled carrots cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Minced parsley for garnish

Equipment You Will Need:Dutch oven, Tongs

Donuts

4. Sufganiyot Recipe

There’s a chance your mouth may be fumbling over the pronunciation of this sugary Hanukkah treat, (pronounced SOOF-gone-ee-OAT) but don’t worry. The recipe is much simpler than the name. Just like latkes, these sugar-coated, jelly-filled donuts are a culinary symbol of the holiday since they’re fried in oil. Also commonly known as Israeli or Hanukkah jelly donuts, these fluffy delights are a perfect fit for any Hanukkah-themed menu in restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. Make your guests’ mouths water with this sufganiyot recipe from My Name is Yeh.

Ingredients:

  • One roll of biscuit dough
  • Canola oil for frying
  • A small bowl of sugar
  • About 1/2 cup jam

Equipment You Will Need:Rolling pin, Cookie cutter, Squeeze bottle

5. Kugel Recipe

Kugel is a traditional Jewish noodle casserole that is commonly served as a dessert or side dish. Pasta for dessert? While it may sound crazy, this delicious dish has the sweet flavors of cream cheese, sugar, and cinnamon and is baked with egg noodles until they turn slightly crispy. However, kugel is a diverse dish that can also be transformed into a savory meal if you swap out the sweet ingredients for cheese, vegetables, and various spices. Check out this recipe from Food 52 to find out ways to make kugel savory, sweet, or a little bit of both.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 4 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 lemons (zest)
  • 8 ounces egg noodles
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups high-quality, whole milk ricotta
  • Splash of milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment You Will Need:Colander, Glass baking dish


These dishes represent the long history of Jewish families and friends coming together to share their recipes and be around the ones they love, which is really what the holiday season is all about. This year, incorporate some of these Jewish recipes into your menu to celebrate with guests of all cultural backgrounds in your restaurant, cafe, or bakery.

Posted in: Holidays | By Jessica Wieser
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