Become a tea-brewing master by following these timeless tips.
Nothing beats a hot cup of tea after a long day, but a really good cup of tea involves more than dropping a bag in a cup of boiling water while hoping for the best. To instantly improve your brew, simply remember your Ts -- tea, time and temperature.
Tip #1: Choose Your Tea Wisely
Choose loose, whole-leaf tea for the best results and invest in an inexpensive infuser, a small mesh or perforated container to hold the leaves. For most types of teas, use approximately one teaspoon per six to eight ounces of water. For teas with larger or whole leaves, consider doubling the amount. To store loose leaf tea, keep in an air-tight container in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Do not store in the fridge or freezer.
If you must use store-bought tea bags, use one bag for each six to eight ounce cup of water. Be careful not to use tea bags that have spent too much time in your cupboard. Manufacturers often use small pieces of leaves in the bags, and these small pieces have a tendency to go stale much sooner than properly stored loose tea.
Tip #2: Time It Right
Over-steeping results in a bitter drink. Green teas are the most delicate; only steep for one to three minutes, depending on how strong you prefer your tea. Black or oolong teas need two to five minutes of steeping, while white tea prefers three to five minutes. Herbal teas take the longest to release their flavor and need at least seven to ten minutes of steeping time.
If you think you’ve over-steeped your tea, don’t toss it out right away. Doctor it up with a bit of cream, sugar or lemon.
Tip #3: Heat It Up
The temperature of the water is critical for the perfect cup. Black, herbal and oolong teas prefer very hot water. Allow water to come to a full boil and then quickly remove from heat. Keep in mind that boiling reduces the level of oxygen in the water which changes the taste of the finished cup of tea.
Green and white teas prefer a cooler temperature between 170 and 180 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, allow your water to come to a boil and then let it sit for roughly five minutes before adding your tea.
Tip #4: Don’t Forget the Water
While we’re on the topic of water, let’s talk taste. Too many people go to great lengths to select just the right type and flavor of tea and then don’t give any thought to the water they brew it in. Any chemicals or chlorine present in water may change the taste of the finished product, and usually not for the better. Choose filtered or bottled water when you brew to give tea the best chance of showing off its distinct aroma and flavor. If you only have access to tap water, let the water run for 10 to 15 seconds before filling up the pot.
Tip #5: Clean It Up
Over time, mineral deposits and other residue builds up on the utensils you use to brew tea, including your infuser, teapot, kettle and cups. Before each use, wash them thoroughly in warm soap and water to eliminate any buildup that might taint your tea.