Everybody knows how to make tea. You boil water, you mix it with some plants and they react to form a very pleasant drink. But are you confident you are doing it the right way? Are you sure you are getting the best out of it?
As it turns out, most people don’t know how to make tea and they are missing out on the benefits while potentially harming their bodies.
First warning: How was it made?
How the tea was made is more important than how you choose to serve it. There are two methods to processing tea: the traditional/orthodox and the CTC/cut-tear-curl method.
Tea produced using CTC methods should be avoided. This processing method yields a teabag filled with dust and fanning. The teabag will not have the flavor, the quality and the benefits offered by loose-leaf tea. By using CTC methods producers can add twigs and other parts of the tea plant that shouldn’t be in your tea without anyone noticing. The teabags are then stored in warehouses were they lose their properties and decay over time. Teabags are usually bleached and treated with other chemicals for storing. You don’t want to be drinking that bleach with your tea.
The traditional method involves leaving the leaves to dry and collecting them. This will result in having dried tea leaves, either in a tin box, a satchel or a teabag. The leaves are fresher and have more oxygen in them which is very important for releasing the teas’ flavor. This method also involves some form of heat treatment such as steaming, frying and the cooling the leaves.
Second warning: Water
You want to use soft, rather than hard water for your brew. Water should be filtered, bottled or as fresh as possible. Don’t use water that has been boiled before. Boiling reduces oxygen and the tea needs oxygen for its taste and benefits. Avoid using tap water. It is treated with chlorine and other chemicals that kill bacteria and that will affect the taste. You don’t want chlorine in your body anyway.
When heating, never use microwave to heat water. It breaks water molecules, you lose the taste and it may actually be harmful for your body.
Third warning: Brewing
Using water that is too hot will burn the tea leaf and make it bitter. This will also damage the leaf and decrease health benefits. Using water that is too hot or leaving the tea in the water for too long will increase the amount of tannins released. This will make the tea very bitter and ruin the flavor. Boiling also decreases the acidity of the water, leading to the brew taking on a clearer color.
Prerequisites and how to prepare tea
– your choice of tea
– one mug or several if you plan on sharing.
– a kettle or a pot and a stove to boil the water.
– a teapot so you can store the tea while you enjoy it. You should use one that has some holes inside were the tea is pouring out or one with a strainer. It’s better if you have a teapot with holes. A metal strainer will need washing. You should never consider using a plastic strainer with hot water.
Bring water to 170 ºF. If you can’t tell the temperature, bring it to boil then take the lid off and leave for 5 minutes to cool down.
Bring water to 175 ºF. If you can’t tell the temperature, bring it to boil then take the lid off and leave for 5 minutes to cool down. Water should have a temperature between 140 ºF – 185 ºF. Japanese green tea is brewed between 160°F and 170°F while standard Chinese green teas between 170°F and 180°F.
Bring water to 190 °F. If you can’t tell the temperature, bring it to boil then take the lid off and leave for 2 minutes to cool down. Oolong tea should be brewed between 180°F and 200°F.
Bring water to 212°F. If you haven’t got a thermometer simply bring it to boil. Black tea should be brewed between 190° and 212°F.
Step 2: Pre-warm teapot
As soon as water boils and before leaving it to cool, pour some hot water in the teapot so it gets warmed. Pre-warming the teapot greatly enhances the properties and aroma.
Step 3: Place tea leaves/ teabag
Empty hot water from teapot and put in the tea.
Use between 2 teaspoons and 2 tablespoons of tea. Use less if tea is made of buds and more if the tea has more leaves in it.
Use one teabag or 1 teaspoon of loose leaves for a teapot. Alternatively you may measure 2 grams of leaves on a scale.
Use between 1 teaspoon and 2 tablespoons of tea. Use less if the tea is rolled into balls and more if the tea is made of large, open leaves.
Use between 1 teaspoon and up to 1 or 2 tablespoons of tea. It is preferable to weight the tea using a scale. You should mix 2 to 3 grams of tea leaves per 6 ounces of water.
Step 4: Steeping
Follow instructions on packaging if available. If not, here are some general rules
White tea is the most delicate, rare and overall special tea blend. Steeping may vary from 1 to 10 minutes depending on your preferences and the manufacturer. If you want a stronger taste it is better to use more leaves instead of leaving it to steep for longer. After steeping for 10 minutes taste becomes more bitter and astringent. You should set a timer for 1 minute. Afterwards taste the tea every 30 seconds and adjust steeping time according to your preferences.
Leave for 1-3 minutes then take the leaves out of the water or use the entire teapot to fill your mugs. If there aren’t instructions on the packaging and the tea was made in China leave for up to 3 minutes, if it was made in Japan leave for 1 minute. You should set a timer for 30 seconds. Afterwards taste the tea every 30 seconds and adjust steeping time according to your preferences.
Oolong tea may steep for 1 to 5 minutes. Rolled-style tea will infuse more slowly than leaf-style tea. . You should set a timer for 1 minute. Afterwards taste the tea every 30 seconds and adjust steeping time according to your preferences.
Black tea may steep for 3 to 5 minutes. You should set a timer for 3 minutes. Afterwards taste the tea every 30 seconds and adjust steeping time according to your preferences.
Step 5: Reusing leaves
You can steep the same leaves 2 to 3 times. You should slightly increase the steeping time and the water temperature with each use.
You can steep the same leaves 2 to 3 times. You should slightly increase the temperature if you are using Chinese green teas and slightly decrease it for Japanese green teas.
If you are using a large teapot you may use the same leaves 2 or 3 times. If you are using a smaller teapot, you may use the same leaves for up to 5 times.
You can steep the same leaves 2 to 3 times. You should increase steep time with each infusion.
Follow these steps to enjoy a great cup. Tea should be served as it is, without adding anything to it however it is popular to serve it with milk, lemon or sweetened. If you enjoy adding milk to your tea, you should pour the milk in your mug before pouring the tea from the pot. If you enjoy your tea with lemon, add the lemon last. Avoid using both milk and lemon, the milk might curdle. If you want it sweeter, sugar may be added at any time however you should leave the tea to cool down for a while before adding honey. Honey loses its properties when exposed to heat above 90 °F.
How do you like to enjoy your tea? Which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.