I easily enjoy the spectrum of leaf teas from white through to oolong. When it comes to black teas and beyond, though, I find myself hesitating because my penchant for flavoured teas has meant that steeping for the recommended length of time has the boldness and richness of the black tea overwhelming any other flavour.
So, ignoring guidelines to steep black tea in just boiled water for 3 – 5 minutes, with some experimentation, I’ve found the sweet (literally) spot for my black teas at around 85°C for 90 seconds. This brings out the sweet, rich and bold flavours of black tea while leaving enough room for the flavoured component to shine, and works a dream for this Eikokuya Grape Black Tea.
Steeping 1 tea bag with 3 g of looseleaf in 200 ml of water at 85°C for 90 seconds yields a red-brown liquor that recalls the intense and fragrant sweetness of red grapes. These notes are fresh and juicy and come through in the head without the slightest acidity of green grapes, complemented by the natural sweetness of the black tea. The richer and bolder black tea notes appear briefly towards the end of the body, before returning as a refreshing sweetness with the grapes in the finish to linger very long in the aftertaste.
If steeped for 3 minutes at 100°C as suggested on the packaging, a bitterness dominates the tea that masks all of the natural sweetness of black tea and all but a trace of the beautiful grape notes that make this tea so refreshing and enjoyable.
This box of Eikokuya Grape Black Tea contained 6 tea bags. The tea originated in Sri Lanka and was purchased in Tokyo, Japan in 2014.