We here at Art of Tea are often asked what it takes to make a perfect cup of tea. Aside from the obvious ingredient (high quality tea), we typically focus on an often overlooked, yet crucial, part of the tea experience — the water!
With so much to think about each day, it’s no wonder operators often overlook this vital component of tea quality management. We want to provide busy restaurateurs with a few straightforward tips that will enable you to offer the best quality iced and hot teas for your guests.
The average cup of hot tea or glass of iced tea (without ice) contains, on average, only 1% tea solids and 99%+ water. If your water quality is poor, it can leave customers with a bad taste in their mouth for their entire dining experience.
Four Steps to Optimal Water
Below are 4 straightforward steps you can take to ensure optimal water quality in your restaurant.
1. Obtain a sample of the water from the source.
Water should be collected from the exact location of the tea equipment installation. This can be the iced tea machine and/or a hot water boiler. The time between collection and testing can have an impact on the results, so it is important to take the sample and test the water immediately. For example, chlorine can evaporate relatively quickly.
2. Use your sense of sight, smell and taste.
The first test is simple. The water should be sniffed, tasted, and visually examined. This process will allow you to observe characteristics like saltiness, bitterness, metallic taste, or chalkiness.
3. Use a simple testing strip.
A wide variety of testing options are available. The Aquacheck HACH 5-in-1 testing kit is a useful tool in assessing which water quality issues may need to be addressed. Key elements to test include:
- Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
- Total Alkalinity
4. Check your filtration.
If you have no filtration system in place, or if yours is outdated, now is the time to make a change. There are many quality filtration options available to the foodservice industry. A filtration system can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. Some well-known brands include Everpure, Cuno and Global Customized Water. Also, most beverage equipment manufacturers, like Bunn and Wilbur Curtis, offer their own brand of filtration specifically designed for making tea.
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The results of your water testing will help you determine which type of filtration system is best for you. It’s important to look at your water chemistry as a whole to determine the optimal filtration approach. While the testing process is relatively simple, it can be more complex to interpret the results. We recommend you consult a trained expert to help you with this step. For Art of Tea customers, this is a service we are happy to provide for you. If you are interested in learning more, contact our corporate office and we’ll connect you with an expert in your area.
Recently, we had the opportunity to help a restaurant partner investigate why their iced tea tasted “off” to them. We examined the tea, the brewer and the brewer water filter and everything was working properly. We then examined the ice machine. It had not been cleaned or serviced in a very long time and the ice machine filter was past its expiration date. Once the ice machine was cleaned and properly filtered, the operator could again brew a perfect batch of iced tea to delight their customers.
Often times the ice machine is something that is managed directly by the restaurant or by their soda purveyor. Because a glass of iced tea contains about 50% ice, it is extremely important that the ice machine is cleaned, maintained, and serviced on a regular basis. Furthermore, the water filter being used to make ice should be properly managed and changed out prior to reaching its expiration. Since ice plays an important role in the overall iced tea experience, and since iced tea is the most profitable menu item (with gross margins at +96%) it is critical that restaurants ensure their ice machine is well taken care of.
Time spent assessing and improving your water quality is worth the effort as it makes an enormous impact on the taste of your tea. Since 2004, Art of Tea has been partnering with restaurants to turn tea into a strategic top line revenue generating menu item. We scrutinize the details so you don’t have to. Contact us today if you’re ready to get a taste of a better tea solution with Art of Tea.
Art of Tea is an award winning purveyor of specialty and organic teas, based in Los Angeles, CA.
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