What does ‘Seibiant’ mean?
Seibiant is the Welsh word for ‘pause’ or ‘breather’, so if you’re stopping what you’re doing to have a cup of tea (or ‘paned’) – or coffee – you’re having a Seibiant. We called the shop this, as a nod to the tea ceremonies, with stopping for a panad being our version of a tea ceremony – less formal for sure, but we certainly have a routine for it, and a particular way of making our cup of tea or coffee.
What’s the difference between the different sorts of tea?
All tea comes from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis, but there are different varietals and cultivars, and different ways of processing the leaves, which result in different teas. Same as wine and coffee, the terroir – climate, geography, altitude, makes a huge difference to the taste of the tea. There are two main varietals which are used for tea-making – Assamica, which prefers to grow at lower altitudes, in hotter, humid areas, and the leaves are bigger and broader. They make excellent black teas. The Sinensis varietal grows at higher altitudes, and prefers cooler temperatures, but grows faster in warmer weather, but they can survive very cold temperatures – perfect for green teas, white teas, and some black and oolong teas. We have examples of both of these varietals growing in the shop, so do ask when you visit.
Is fruit tea a tea?
No, fruit teas are tisanes, with no caffeine, but a combination of different fruits and botanicals. Rooibos and all the botanicals are also tisanes, all caffeine free.
Does the water temperature make a difference?
Absolutely! The water temperature can change the taste of your tea completely, so your personal taste does play a part, but there are some standards which we suggest you start with, to get the best out of your tea. For example, we suggest cooler temperatures for your white teas and green teas, to start with, so that you can then increase the temperature to get a second and third infusions from the same tea. Also caffeine dissolves at 75 degrees, so brewing cooler than this means you get less caffeine. Oolongs need different temperatures depending on the type – jade oolongs need cooler water than dark oolongs. Black teas need the hottest water, but again, you can start a little cooler so that you can increase the temperature for subsequent infusions.
Why do you brew some teas in a gaiwan, and some in a teapot?
A gaiwan is the traditional Chinese way to brew tea, and uses more tea – 5g or more, less water – 100ml-150ml, and generally a quick brew time – anything from 30 seconds up! You can then brew the tea again several times – sometimes up to 10 infusions! This method means you get to experience the huge range of flavours in a single tea. In the west, we use a traditional teapot, and this means 3g tea, 250ml-300ml water, long brew time – 3 minutes is usual. For some teas, this traditional method is great, but for the finer teas, and more unusual ones like oolongs and puerhs, we prefer the gong fu method (using the gaiwan). Ask for a demonstration when you’re in the shop.
How long does tea keep for?
Generally we say that tea keeps fresh for two years once we open the pack from the supplier, so your tea is good for 2 years – but it needs to be kept dry, airtight, and ideally in the dark. Our tea pouches are re-sealable, so are ideal, but you can transfer to a caddy. Saying all that though, we do have some aged teas, 10 year old oolong, for example, which is amazing! We are also ageing some white teas ourselves, so those packs won’t be opened until 2023! I was given some Silver Needle tea which turned out to be several years old, and it was lovely – even though it hadn’t been kept airtight!
How long does coffee keep fresh for?
Coffee is completely different to tea in terms of freshness. Green coffee beans keep for ages, but once roasted, the coffee roaster will say it’s good for 6 months. We at Seibiant tend to put coffee that was roasted over 3 months ago into Bin Ends, and reduce the price, although it may well be just as good as fresher coffee – keep an eye on the website and on our social media for Bin End coffees and grab yourself a bargain. Once it’s been ground however, it’s a very different story. Coffee starts to oxidise within 12 hours of being ground, and so the flavour drops off quickly after this. We suggest using your ground coffee within a week, to get the best from your coffee.
Should you keep coffee in the fridge or freezer?
If you Google this, there are so many different opinions! It may keep your beans fresher, but when you take them out to grind, bear in mind that they will develop condensation which then affects the grinder, whether this is in a bean to cup machine, or a basic grinder. Allow your coffee enough time to dry, to avoid damaging your machine.