Loose - Estate Tea
CUP CHARACTERISTICS: A grainy broken Pekoe with a bright and lively liquor. Hints of malt macadamia finish the cup.
INGREDIENTS: Black tea
INGREDIENTS FROM: Rwanda
REGION(S): Gicumbi District
GROWING ALTITUDES: 5900 - 8200 feet above sea level
GRADE(S): BP1 (Broken Pekoe #1)
MANUFACTURE TYPE(S): CTC (Cut, Torn and Curled)
ANTIOXIDANT LEVEL: High
CAFFEINE LEVEL: Medium
ARTISANAL NOTES: Small batch blended.
INFUSION: Golden coppery with light reddish highlights
Rwanda is a land of soaring heat, blanketing humidity and rolling hills. How much of each? So much heat that the average annual temperature is around 24º. So much ambient humidity that the country has two rainy seasons and is known as the lightening capital of the world. So many hills that in the local language, Kinyarwanda, it is called Igihugu cy'Imisozi Igihumbi, or the land of a thousand hills. If you think this sounds like the perfect conflation of factors for growing tea, you'd be right.
It was exactly that thought that led an American named Joe Wertheim to Rwanda to purchase Rukeri Estate in the mid-1970s. The estate was first planted by Europeans back in the 60s and like the rest of the Rwandan tea industry at the time was modest in size. Over the years, as Wertheim and his company weathered the ups and downs of life in Rwanda, the estate grew and prospered. A good reason for this was the belief that growing tea was more than a way to make money for the company - it could help strengthen the Rwandan economy, and improve the lives and productivity of Rwandans themselves. Their vision spread throughout the industry to great effect - in 2002, with 15000 tons produced, tea became Rwanda's largest export and one of the largest employing sectors in the country.
While Rukeri has about 2500 acres under tea, the factory also purchases a large quantity of tea from small-hold farmers in the surrounding districts. This system provides the factory with the bulk leaf it needs and importantly, provides the local farmers with a sustainable source of income to feed and support their families. (One of the great things about tea in this type of situation is that it is a continuous crop and grows all year.) The factory at Rukeri is a large local employer itself, providing jobs for about 400 people. These excellent practices have earned Rukeri a well-deserved Free Trade certification.
And what of the tea? Good question. Rukeri's annual output stands at about 3000 tons, or 3 million kilos, and is considered by many in the trade to be one of Africa's best. Comparable to a full-bodied Kenyan or Assam, Rukeri's cup is loaded with hints of malt, molasses and subtle wine with a delicate, pleasing astringency and full-bodied finish. A wonderful cup from an amazing estate, savor the finest of Rwanda today.
IDEAL BREWING TEMPERATURE: 100ºC/212ºF
HOT BREWING METHOD:
Bring filtered or freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea for each 7-9oz / 200-260ml of fluid volume in the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea).
ICED TEA BREWING METHOD (Pitcher): (To Make 1 Liter/Quart):
Place 6 slightly heaping teaspoons of loose tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Using filtered or freshly drawn cold water, boil and pour 1¼ cups/315ml over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the tea. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to increase the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water. (Note: Some luxury quality teas may turn cloudy when poured over ice. This is a sign of luxury quality and nothing to worry about.)
ICED TEA BREWING METHOD (Individual Serving):
Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea into a teapot for each serving required. Using filtered or freshly drawn cold water, boil and pour 6-7oz/170-200ml per serving over the tea. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Add hot tea to a 12oz/375ml acrylic glass filled with ice, straining the tea. Not all of the tea will fit, allowing for approximately an additional ½ serving. Sweeten and/or add lemon to taste. A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to increase the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted. (Note: Some luxury quality teas may turn cloudy when poured over ice. This is a sign of luxury quality and nothing to worry about!)
FOOD SAFETY ADVISORY: We strongly recommend using filtered or freshly drawn cold water brought to a rolling boil when brewing all types of tea. Today's water has been known to carry viruses, parasites and bacteria. Boiling the water will kill these elements and reduce the potential incidence of water-borne illnesses.
RECOMMENDATION: We recommend the use of our '1 Cup of Perfect Tea' measuring spoon for best results. Please contact Blue Monkey Tea to place an order.
ANTIOXIDANT BENEFIT: For a greater antioxidant benefit brew longer and use more tea.