Every day, about 158 million Americans drink tea. This shouldn’t be too surprising if you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage worldwide after water. However, it is a bit surprising when you think back to the Boston Tea Party. Yet even that act of defiance hasn’t stopped the United States from becoming the third largest importer of tea in the world today. But does that mean we actually know how to brew tea properly? Even if you feel you’re a tea expert, read on.
How to Heat Water to Brew Tea
For anyone who thinks a good cup of tea starts by throwing a cup of water into the microwave, just stop. It’s too difficult to control the heat from a microwave and it usually affects the flavor.
Plus, the temperature of the water depends on what type of tea you’re drinking. Black and herbal teas tend to taste best when the water is about 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, a good cup of white or green tea tastes best when the steeping begins at around 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
No matter what type of tea you’re brewing, bring fresh, cool water to a slow boil. Try to use infused water as it’s healthiest and will make your tea taste the best.
When it’s ready, pour the water into your cup (or a teapot) and then use a thermometer to check when the water has cooled to the desired temperature. Then add in your tea.
It’s important to note that while you might be tempted to reheat your water when you want to brew another cup of tea, doing so deprives the water of oxygen and it may leave you with a slight metallic taste.
How Long to Steep Your Tea
When you brew tea, you have to let it steep so the tea has time to infuse with the water. Steeping your tea brings out the flavor.
But there is a right way to steep tea and there are wrong ways to steep tea. Here are some things you shouldn’t do when steeping your tea.
Don’t let the tea bag steep for too long. Don’t stir your tea and definitely don’t squeeze the tea bag. All of these actions can contribute to a bitter tasting tea experience.
However, how long you steep the tea depends on what type of tea you’re brewing. Once again, black tea needs to steep for longer than green tea does. If you’re buying tea from a box, check the instructions for how long the tea should be steeped for.
If you brew tea using loose leaf or don’t have instructions, an easy way to remember how long to brew your tea is to remember how hot your water needs to be first. Green and white teas, which require a lower temperature also require less time to steep. About 2-3 minutes is perfect.
Herbal and black teas which are steeped at a higher temperature require more time to steep properly. Black teas are between 3-5 minutes whereas an herbal tea can take anywhere from 6-10 minutes to steep properly.
Of course, when you brew tea, you have to factor in your own preferences. Some people prefer a lighter tasting cup of tea while others prefer a stronger, most robust flavor.
The Right Materials to Brew Tea Perfectly Every Time
While it might seem silly, what materials you use to brew your tea in does make a difference in the flavor. If you use plastic, the tannins will stick to the side of the cup.
Not surprisingly, a metal cup will make your tea taste metallic. Don’t even think about using a styrofoam cup unless you like harmful chemicals leaking into your cup of tea.
Using a ceramic cup will cause your tea to cool down too quickly. For black teas, using a metal like iron will keep the tea hot and strong. For green and white teas, porcelain is the best choice as it will stay cooler.
Glass and Yixing are also great materials to use for consuming tea. Glass works best with white, green, and herbal teas. Yixing works best for oolong and fermented teas.
When to Add in the Milk When You Brew Tea
While it’s perfectly acceptable to simply brew a nice cup of tea and enjoy it without adding anything, some people prefer adding milk. But if you do, just don’t add in too much.
If you do, too much calcium can create a scum to form at the top of your tea. Too much milk can also dilute the flavor and strength of the tea. However, some people prefer a weaker tea with lots of milk and that’s okay, too.
If you brew your tea in a teapot, add the milk to your cup before you add in the tea. However, if you brewed your tea in a cup, add the milk after it’s finished steeping.
How to Make Iced Tea Properly
Since 80% of tea drinkers in the United States prefer their tea to be iced rather than hot, we would be remiss if we didn’t share with you how to brew tea that’s cold rather than hot.
First, contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t heat up your water when you’re making iced tea. It actually makes it too bitter and/or too diluted.
Instead, float tea leaves in water for 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature. Then place it into the refrigerator overnight for about eight hours.
To ensure you make enough for a pitcher, use about 1-2 teaspoons of tea for every cup of water used. Use too little and the flavor will be minimal. However, if you end up with a stronger iced tea than you care for, simply add in ice cubes to dilute the flavor.
Selecting the Best Type of Tea
Of course, it’s important to figure out what type of tea is your favorite.
When you brew tea, it should be a flavor you love and will savor. Don’t be afraid to try different types of tea. You never know what you’ll discover.
As you can tell, tea is our passion. We hope it will soon be yours, too.
Keep exploring our blog to learn more about tea. Don’t forget to leave your comments!