The most common infusion method for tea in Turkey is the traditional Turkish-type infusion method. The infusion process is conducted by using a kettle and teapot set.
Water is poured into the kettle and left to heat. Next, the black tea is put into the teapot and placed on the warming kettle with the closed top cover. When the water boils, some of the boiled water is poured onto the tea leaves in the teapot. The kettle and teapot are kept warm and rested. At the end of the infusion time in the teapot, some of the tea is poured into tea glasses and the rest of the glass is made up with boiled water.
Infusion time plays a decisive role in Turkish tea consumers’ preferences, noted a new, first-of-its-kind study on the effect of infusion time on black tea quality, prepared using the traditional Turkish infusion method.
“It has not been seen in any study that the traditional Turkish type infusion method was examined, which provides real infusion conditions,” noted the paper by Atilla Polat, Zuhal Kalcıoglu, and Nihat Müezzinoglu, all scientists at the Ataturk Tea and Horticultural Central Institute. “It has been revealed how the quality parameters, mineral compounds, and sensory parameters of the infusions change with the increasing infusion time
accordance. The three criteria of evaluation that contain quality parameters, minerals and sensory parameters, the ideal infusion time was determined according to the traditional Turkish type black tea infusion method.”
For Turkish Tea, the Ideal Infusion Time is 15 Minutes
The study goes on to say that “When the quality parameters, minerals and sensory parameters of the infusions are evaluated, it has been seen that the ideal infusion time is 15 minutes, according to the traditional Turkish type black tea infusion method, and infusion time should not exceed 30 minutes."
Polat, the corresponding author of the study and the head of the technology department at Ataturk Tea and Horticultural Research Institute said, “In Turkish culture, a well-brewed tea enhances the joy of the moment. A well-brewed tea is essential for a good Turkish breakfast. After dinner, if you drink well-brewed tea, you want to also drink another glass. While planning a short conversation, you can extend the conversation with a well-brewed tea. If you want to obtain a well-brewed tea with the Turkish type of brewing method, you should also consider the brewing time. For example, when you want to drink a cup of tea from a tea that has been brewing for five minutes, they tell you that the tea is not ready yet. When you want to drink a cup of tea from a long-brewed tea at a close friend’s house, he/she says that the tea is not fresh and offers to brew new tea.”
Polat said people want to offer their guests a fresh, delicious tea with an
astringent taste. “In this perspective, tea is not just a beverage, but also shows the value given to you.”
Tasters stated that the color of the infusion, of course, increases as the infusion time increases. While the yellowish-red color stood out for short infusions, the color turned more red to brownish red with longer infusion times.
As the infusion time increases, the brightness of the infusions decreases. It can be said that depending on the infusion time as well as desired compounds, undesirable compounds pass to the infusion – the emergence of some decomposed and degraded components – and increased turbidity causes a decrease in the brightness of the infusion. The same situation can be said for clarity. In addition, it can be said that the increasing color with the increasing infusion time suppresses both brightness and clarity. Overall, increasing infusion time revealed an extremely negative correlation for both brightness and clarity.
‘All Local Teas Are Best Infused Using Local Methods’
Dr. Saziye Ilgaz, a board member at the European Tea Speciality Association said the
Turkish tea brewing method is specific to Turkish black tea and may not be suitable for other country teas. “One should use lime-free water and soft water for brewing tea, and the tea should be consumed in 30 minutes.”
International tea consultant Nigel Melican, who has more than 40 years of tea practical hands-on experience and has worked in Turkey and has drunk Turkish tea said, “[Turkish tea] is different from English tea, very different, but can be good when judged on its own merits. All local teas are best infused using local methods, all of which have evolved with differing infusion times, temperatures, tea wares, and cultural expectations.”
Roopak Goswami has worked for more than two decades as a newspaper journalist in Northeast India. Tea is his passion, and he covers the tea industry regularly for World Tea News.