- control over the process
Many brewers opt for one of these main formats for their tea beverage projects:
Instant teas are true instant granules or powders that are essentially a liquid tea converted into powder form.
- Dissolves well, though may have some fine residue that settles
- True instant teas can cost more per lb than real leaf, liquid concentrates, or tea powders
- Often imparts a distinctive, “instant tea” flavor some liken to a citrusy note that can detract from a true tea taste
Liquid tea concentrates provide a truer tea experience than most instant and powder forms:
- Balancing of liquid ratios can create challenges in adjusting intensity of flavors, colors, and aromas in the final product
- Shorter shelf life and storage. Refrigeration may be required for storing product, and best used within days of opening
- May cost less per lb than leaf and instant tea. Minimum orders are usually 5 gallons or more
Tea powders can be one of the most confusing, catch-all categories that can include fine dust/fannings or milled leaves like matcha:
- Unlike instant tea, it does not dissolve
- It is often harder to control the result and can yield very weak or very bitter results
- Often of lower quality, it is one of the cheapest per lb
Leaf teas are preferred among many craft brewers for several reasons.
- It allows brewers to make the product claim that the beverage was brewed with real tea
- Leaf teas are often richer in their natural flavors and aromas
- Simple equipment like a brewer’s bag allow for easy, effective control of the tea-steeping process
- They offer optimal balance of cost and quality
- They are convenient to store, with a long shelf life
Speak with your tea provider to help you choose the best format based on desired outcomes. Whatever format you choose for your tea project, be sure to work with your production team regarding how each format will impact the processes of fermenting, filtration, flavoring, bottling/canning, and sales/marketing. For example, using leaf tea may allow your product to carry the claim: “made with real brewed tea,” a potentially valuable feature your sales and marketing team can take advantage of.