How to make Srilankan style plain tea. Ceylon black tea.
Local Srilankans make their tea with low grade tea leaves called as fannings or dust.
The gradings vary and one of the common high grade tea used is OP – Orange Pekoe or BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe (These tea leaves are expensive).
For local Srilankan tea, BOPF is used. BOPF – Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings. Fannings are also referred to as dust tea. Fannings are small pieces of tea that are left over after higher grades of teas are gathered to be sold.
Srilankan tea is different from the Indian CTC tea.
Crush, tear, curl (CTC) is a method of processing black tea in which the leaves are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of sharp teeth that crush, tear, and curl the tea into small, hard pellets. These hard pellets produce a strong dark brew and its relatively very cheap to produce commercially. This tea is mostly consumed by adding milk and sugar. Its locally called as mamri tea. It produces a dark brew suitable for Indian style chai.
Brewing Srilankan tea with ginger (Inguru Tea)
For every cup (200 ml) of water used, we will be using a teaspoon of tea fannings (BOPF tea).
Boil filtered water in a kettle. Add in the crushed ginger (a small piece) along. Once the water is boiling, switch off the flame and add in the tea leaves. Let it brew for 30 seconds. Brewing for a long time makes the tea to go bitter.
Just strain and serve plain or with sugar or jaggery. Srilankans drink their tea plain with a small piece of Kithul Jaggery served on the side.
A note on Kithul Jaggery
When in Srilanka, you will have to get hold of this one ingredient. Kithul Jaggery – Its a jaggery produced from a variety of palm called the fishtail. The Tamilians call it as கூந்தற்பனை – Koonthal Panai. I have not come across this in Tamilnadu so far. The kithul sap drops are collected for several days, boiled on a wood fire, set in moulds and sold as kithul jaggery. The taste is woody (ever so so slightly smoky) with caramel hues and goes perfect with their tea. I am in love with Kithul Jaggery. Its not hard like our palm karupatti you get in Tamilnadu. It just melts in your mouth. The texture is so smooth like fudge. The heat of your hand just melts it.
Local Srilankans do not sweeten their tea. Instead they drink their black tea with a small piece of Kithul served on the side. The traditional way of drinking black tea in Sri Lanka is with Kithul Jaggery. This stuff is dreamy!!!! The locals feel that Kithul jaggery aids in digestion and it is used extensively in alternative medicine by the Sinhalese.
I am in love with Srilankan plain fannings tea. Its light and cozy!