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March 23, 1991 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-03-23

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anti-alcohol groups and, in particular,
Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"People started drinking wine instead
of hard liquor, and then went from
spirits to the 'spiritless,' " he says.
The other reason is the growing
sophistication of the American public
about food in general. "People are
traveling more," he says. "That is
broadening in itself:
In Mr. Harney's view, a certain kind
of person becomes a tea drinker. "Tea
consumers, like wine consumers, love
to know the background of tea," he
says. "That's why you now have this
flurry of books about tea and the
increase in high quality tea:
Certainly, there is tea lore galore.
The history of tea dates back 4,000
years, according to the simplified
version Mr. Harney tells. One of the
Chinese emperors wasn't feeling well
so he was having his water boiled.
Some tea leaves fell into the water
and the rest is tea history.
China managed to keep tea a secret
for the next 2,800 years, until the
Japanese found out about it and got
ahold of some tea plant seeds. Al-
though India's per pound consump-
tion makes it the top tea drinking
country in the world, tea growing was
introduced there by the British Raj
only about 175 years ago. Another
major tea drinking area is the Middle
East, he adds.
Mr. Harney has his own unique
explanation of why modern-day
Americans favor coffee over tea.
"Came the American Revolution," he
says, "and tea went out the door and
coffee came in The result of this
pique with things British is that while
tea is the Number One beverage in
England, it's only Number TWo here.
Harney & Sons imports tea from all
over the world, mostly from China,
India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) but
also occasionally from Kenya and
Indonesia. Besides the right climate,
a tea plantation needs a "huge labor
pool," says Mr. Harney. The small tea-
growing industry in America, located
in South Carolina, avoids that prob-
lem by having automated picking. Mr.
Harney's firm doesn't use the home-
grown tea because "it hasn't reached
our standard yet." (If you want to try
it, though, it's sold under the brand
name of American Tea.)
There are, Mr. Harney explains, four
kinds of tea: green, semi-fermented,
fully fermented, and herbal.

Green tea is an "acquired taste," he
believes. On the plus side, it contains
just a smidge of caffeine. On the
minus side, since the color when
poured is a light yellow, people tend
to think they haven't made it strong
enough. They add more tea and
before you can say "yuck," they've
made it too strong and too bitter.
Semi-fermented tea has gone half-
way through the fermentation and
drying process. Thus, it has half the
caffeine that is found in fully fer-
mented tea. Best known among the
semi-fermented teas are Jasmine and
Formosa Oolong.
Fully fermented, or "black," tea is
the most popular tea in the U.S. It
includes such names as Ceylon, In-
dian, Darjeeling, English Breakfast,
Earl Grey and the China Blacks.
The most popular herbal tea, Cham-
omile, isn't a tea at all, strictly
speaking. This non-caffeine brew is
made from the chamomile flower, not
from tea leaves. Another popular
herbal tea is Peppermint. Probably
because they're often sold in health
food stores, the herbal teas have
acquired a reputation for being
"healthy" but Mr. Harney says they're
"not particularly healthier than
anything else."

The tea with which most Americans
are familiar is orange pekoe, a blend
of black teas. The best known ex-
ample of orange pekoe tea — and the
most popular tea in this country — is
Earl Grey, a scented black tea. Next
comes English Breakfast, an unscented
black tea whose popularity bemuses
Mr. Harney. "Years ago, no one
thought about English Breakfast ex-
cept Englishmen," he says. "Now it's
second in this country and I'm con-
vinced the name is what makes it so
Earl Grey used to be Mr. Harney's
favorite tea but he has switched
allegiance. His new favorite is a tea
called Irish Breakfast, an Indian tea
which his firm is in the process of
introducing. "The secret of a good
breakfast tea is that it's heavy in
caffeine," he says, "It has to jolt you."
On the subject of caffeine, he adds,
there is a quick and easy way to de-
caffeinate a tea bag. Since caffeine is
the most soluble part of tea, all you
have to do is pour boiling water over
the tea bag; wait 15 seconds and
throw that water away; then pour

fresh boiling water over the tea bag
and let steep.

A Good Pot of Tea
It is also easier than you think to

make a really good pot of tea. Here
are Mr. Harney's rules to correctly
prepare tea:
Preheat the teapot by pouring
boiling water into it.
--- Discard the water and add tea
Pour fresh boiling water over the
tea leaves or tea bag.
w Steep for at least a full five
minutes, and preferably longer, about
10 to 15 minutes. Have handy a
second pot of boiling water; if the tea
becomes too strong, simply dilute it.

Brewing No-No's

Since there's a right way to prepare
tea, there are also things you should
avoid. They are:
Mixing flavors — Teapots should
be used for tea only. Tea is like a
blotter and it will pick up other flavors
used in the pot, like coffee and cocoa,
even though you have washed out the
pot thoroughly.
Not using boiling water — Hot
water won't do; it must be boiling. It
is also best to use fresh, clean water.
Not using enough tea — TWo
spoonfuls for a two-cup teapot are
ample; add an extra spoonful for
larger pots. And remember, you can
always dilute too strong tea.
Infusers are
Using infusers
those little metal or china balls in
which you place the tea leaves. They
may look pretty but they spoil your
tea because a) they interfere with the
"agony of the tea leaves" (doesn't
that sound dramatic? It's a tea term
for when the tea leaves expand in the
boiling water) and b) they lower the
temperature of the boiling water.
What's a good teapot? Teapots
used to come in one basic, classic
shape, which is what Mr. Harney him-
self prefers. Now, with all the different
pots on the market, he advises con-
sumers to look for the following
features a spout that doesn't let the
liquid dribble on you when you pour;
a lid that doesn't slip off when you
pour; a handle that is heat resistant.
Also nice is a pot with an internal
strainer, to catch floating tea leaves
when you pour. Otherwise, you can
place a small strainer directly over
your tea cup when you pour from the

SPRING '91 J-7

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