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Tips for Brewing Tea

brewing teaThere are some simple techniques for brewing tea that will make the difference between making a good cup of brew and a great one.

Sparkling Clean Equipage

Before making your tea, check to be sure your teapot and utensils are clean. While this seems obvious, kettles, teapots, cups, strainers and other tea accessories need to be gently washed on a regular basis with soap or baking soda (even if they are just used for boiling water or brewing tea).

This helps to remove mineral deposits and old residue that can taint the flavor of your freshly made brew.

Start with Cold, Good-Tasting Water

Since tea is comprised of 99% water, the type of water you use will affect the clarity and taste of your beverage. So if your water tastes good then your tea will taste good.

The best type of water to use when brewing tea is filtered or bottled water (not distilled water) that is free of chemicals and chlorine. If that isn’t available and you are using tap water, run your faucet for around ten seconds and until the tap water is cold before filling your tea kettle.

Water and Steeping

For each cup of tea you prepare, you will want to heat 6 ounces of water. So if you are making a pot of tea, be sure you have pre-measured the amount of water the pot holds. The water temperature and length of steeping time varies by the blend of tea you are brewing.

Here are some general tea brewing guidelines for water temperature and steeping times. Adjust the heat and time based on your individual preferences.

The time it takes to brew tea correlates to the size of the leaf in your blend. This means the larger the leaf the longer the brewing time.

Black:

  • Water Temp: 205-212 F
  • Steeping Time: 3-5 minutes
Oolong:
  • Water Temp: 185-200 F
  • Steeping Time: 3-5 minutes
Green:
  • Water Temp: 165-185 F
  • Steeping Time: 3-5 minutes
White:
  • Water Temp: 160-175 F
  • Steeping Time: 2-3 minutes
Herbal/Tisanes:
  • Water Temp: 205-212 F
  • Steeping Time: 5-7 minutes

Amount of Tea

To maximize taste, it is preferable to brew tea leaves in loose form rather than using a small tea ball or infuser (yet these accessories are popular, convenient, and yield tasty brews). This allows the leaves to fully open and release all their flavor.

Use 1 teaspoon of whole leaf tea for each 6 ounce cup you are brewing. This is the standard for compact blends. If you are brewing tea that has a lot of volume, consider using up to two tablespoons per serving.

If you want the convenience of using a tea bag or sachet, simply use one for every cup of tea you are making. The key to good tasting brew is to make sure your tea bags are always fresh.

The tea in commercially produced bags is typically comprised of small pieces of leaves or fannings that are susceptible to becoming stale faster than the well-stored loose leaf variety.

 Serving

When your tea is done steeping, immediately remove the loose tea from the strainer or the tea bag and lightly stir. Then serve while fresh and hot. If your tea gets too cool, it is best to enjoy it over ice verses re-heating the brew.

Depending on your preference, you can enjoy drinking your beverage plain or with a bit of milk, lemon, honey or sugar. In Asia, people typically drink tea without accompaniments.

In England, a small amount of milk is often added for extra body and smoothness. In Russia, brewing tea and adding lemon is common. Raspberry jam is sometimes added for sweetness.

Yet, brewing tea is all about the experience and how you take your tea is a matter of individual taste and enjoyment. Experiment until you find a combination that suits your palate "to a tea."

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