How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea
Wondering how to prepare that perfect cup of tea? Wonder no more! Here are some tips and tricks you need to know for the perfect tea brewing.
The perfect method to brew tea is a myth. There are some recommendations to be taken into account, but ask three different tea lovers about how to brew the perfect cup of tea and they will give you three different answers. Brewing tea is a highly personal activity and there isn’t such thing as “the right tea”. The art of tea is the art of being personal, original and remember that perfect tea is tea the way you like it.
Still there are some recommendations regarding the water temperature and the storage of the tea that must be taken into account, otherwise the tea can be spoiled from the beginning. Steeping time, water temperature, and in the case of black tea the milk or the sweeteners represent a few variables when it comes to tea preparation, variables which we cannot ignore. There is also a debate in the tea world about the pros and cons of loose leaf teas versus tea bags. Endless discussions can be initiated regarding this debate, but still, what is the right method for preparing a cup of tea?
Storing the Tea
Storing the tea is the first important step to be taken into account after buying it and before we actually prepare it. Some people prefer to buy tea bags because they don’t know much about how to correctly store loose leaf teas and they are afraid to spoil them. Indeed a wrongly used method of tea storage and your tea will be spoiled from the start, before actually starting to prepare it.
What we have to keep in mind when buying loose leaf teas is the fact that air is their enemy. It is better to look for tea sold in vacuum packed foil bags. After opening the bag, the leaves need to be stored in an air tight vessel and it is better to keep them away from any heat or light source as the heat will affect their flavor. Humidity is also an enemy when it comes to storage, so be sure your teas are stored in a dry place. Storing the tea in the fridge is a bad idea, so avoid it as well.
As a general rule, the greener the leaves, the shorter the period of time in which they need to be consumed. White or green teas are best to be consumed in the first couple of months from the moment of buying them, while the black teas last longer, up to twelve months, depending on the variety.
Tools Needed for the Perfect Cup of Tea
When we say equipment or tools needed for the perfect cup of tea we refer to some necessary vessels you should have around. It isn’t necessary to search for or to buy the perfect tea ceremony tool kit but there are some practical aspects regarding the tools which need to be kept in mind.
Firstly it would be ideal to brew the loose leaf teas in a teapot which can also be replaced by a gaiwan, a small lidded bowl specially designed for brewing tea, or by a tea plunger. For brewing loose leaf teas a strainer also comes in handy to avoid the unpleasant experience of filling up your cup with both the beverage and the leaves. It is also recommended that you use a small circumference tea cup otherwise your tea will cool too quickly.
Other auxiliary tools which aren’t mandatory but are really helpful to have around when brewing tea are a pitcher to announce you when the correct steep time is reached, measuring cups, thermometer, stop watch, a tablespoon or a teaspoon. These will come in handy if you want to strictly control the ratio of the water, the temperature and of course the steeping time.
Brewing Tea in 5 Steps
Tea is actually really simple to prepare and exactly this simplicity made tea rituals so popular in Asia as a tribute to nature and peace.
Each tea variety has its own indications regarding the steeping time and the water temperature. There are also some tea leaves varieties which can be reused. In the table below you will find all these variables in one place to make the tea preparation even simpler.
|Type||Water Temperature||Steep Time||Number of Infusions|
|Green Tea||75 to 80 Celsius degrees||2-3 minutes||5-6|
|White Tea||65 to 70 Celsius degrees||1-3 minutes||3|
|Oolong Tea||80 to 85 Celsius degrees||3-5 minutes||4-6|
|Black Tea||98 Celsius degrees||3-5 minutes||2-3|
|Pu-erh Tea||95 to 98 Celsius degrees||3-6 minutes||2-4|
# 1 Warming the teapot
If you have around a ceramic teapot, it is recommended to use it, as silver and steel teapots can change the taste of the beverage and give a metallic flavor to the tea. Tea infuses better in hot water, so prewarming the teapot before actually starting to brew the tea is a good choice. You can do that by simply playing a little with some warm water and the teapot. Pour the water in and let it warm the teapot before adding the leaves.
# 2 Adding the tea leaves
One teaspoon of tea leaves per person is sufficient for the perfect cup of tea you dream of. If you want to make a stronger beverage, then add another teaspoon of loose leaves for each person. The same principle goes for the tea bags, one teabag per person.
# 3 Adding water
Pour the hot water into the teapot. Be sure that the water is just around the point of boiling, not boiled completely or worse, re-boiled, as the oxygen released in these cases may affect the taste of the beverage.
# 4 Steeping time
Allow your tea the time to steep properly as the steeping time depends on the tea variety you have chosen. Remember that usually raw teas such as green tea and white need two to three minutes to steep, oolong usually needs five minutes while black teas need three to five minutes.
# 5 Adding sweeteners/milk
This is the part when you can start enjoying your tea. You can add milk and sweeteners to it, but remember that too much of these will mask the actual taste of the tea. The tea connoisseurs usually recommend enjoying the tea without any other supplementary ingredients.
3 Common Brewing Tea Mistakes
There are some common mistakes tea newbies tend to make, besides the usual over boiling the water, storage or steeping time. Let’s find out more about those mistakes and how we can avoid them.
# 1 Buying the wrong tea
If you’re at the beginning of your tea experience, you are somewhat in danger of having a bad tea experience if you buy low quality tea. It is important to find the right tea company and then explore different tea varieties and blends they offer, until you find your favorites. The right tea company will offer you whatever information you require such as where the tea comes from, how it was prepared and what are the preparation variables like steep time and water temperature needed to prepare that particular tea or blend.
# 2 Microwaving your water, or using hot tap water
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! The problem with using hot water directly from the tap or microwaving it which is even worse, is that tea loses all its subtle aromas, flavors and properties which actually make it amazing to start with. These methods will also destroy its potential medicinal benefits. Needless to say that using hot water directly from the tap isn’t at all hygienic and gives weird flavors to the beverage.
# 3 Using a rusty teapot to boil your water
Many of us have a different way of boiling the water, but it is always recommended to use a ceramic teapot, not a steel one. If you still have a steel teapot at least make sure it is not rusty at the bottom. After some years of usage, the teapot or teakettle can get some rust on them. The solution will then be to buy a new one to avoid spoiling your tea’s flavor and taste.
Tea brewing is simple and it doesn’t take too long, and like cooking, it just needs patience and it also needs to be done from the heart, especially if you offer the tea to your guests.
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