People want to know how to make tea. Not cold tea, brewed tea, green tea, iced tea or fall teas but…”just tea”. Well that works for me because tea is one of my favorite things to talk about. I’ll be writing about how to make hot tea. Hot brewed tea can also be chilled and enjoyed cold as a refreshing summer beverage. So are you ready? Slide up a chair and grab your favorite tea cup. I’m “spilling the tea” on how to make tea.
When you decide that you’re going to make a cup of tea there are a few things to consider. Lets start with tea leaves. Tea leaves can be purchased either loose as seen in “loose tea” or tea bags in “bagged tea”. And which one you purchase depends on what you’re looking for. Loose tea leaves are generally larger and more expensive than tea bags.
When you buy loose tea, they need to be stored in airtight containers away from light and moisture. Of course there are ways to do that. There are even mini storage containers for when you want to take your loose tea on the road.
But there’s more to it than that. Loose tea is more flavorful, more aromatic and often brews a more enjoyable cup of tea. On the contrary, tea stored inside of tea bags is often times referred to “dust” also known as fannings. Those fannings come from previously collected leaves. Broken tea leaves (due to their exposed surface area), have lost essential oils and flavor. As a result, loose tea is preferred and more flavorful.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some good tea bag companies around. But if you have a choice, choose loose tea. There’s a reason that loose tea is served at the Ritz London’s iconic afternoon tea.
There are a couple different categories to think of when you’re selecting what flavor tea to brew. There are fruity/food flavors, earthy, minty and even floral flavors. The most noted health benefits are associated with green tea although white tea, chamomile and black tea do their share of increasing antioxidants and reducing inflammatory markers.
Where to Buy Tea
Before you figure out how to make tea, you need to figure out where to buy it. You can buy tea from almost every grocery store imaginable and at online retailers including Amazon. Sadly some of my favorite retailers to purchase loose tea like Teavana has since closed it’s doors although you can still purchase their tea in major grocery stores and a few department stores as well.
My first recommendation is to go into a proper tea shop to smell the tea, sip the tea, experience the tea. But if you can’t do that, once you find a brand you like, you should be able to go to the retailer’s website and find exactly what you need. Of course, Amazon has a selection of teas to choose from as well.
By the way, if you’re ever visiting Washington DC, pop in to Teaism. It’s a proper tea house with a great tea selection.
Loose and Bagged Teas
How to Make Tea
Most people are either a tea person or a coffee person. I’ll make the assumption that since you’re reading this post that you’re a tea person. First things first, I know that coffee culture is bit different from tea culture. Many times having a cup of coffee is applauded as something that you can grab and go. Although that doesn’t have to be the case, that’s one of the reasons why Starbucks added drive-thru windows to 80% of their stores and why disposable cups with lids was probably invented. People want to grab and go!
That being said, while you can certainly enjoy tea on the go, tea has a reputation of being something that should be enjoyed at a slower pace.
To make a cup of tea, start by buying a good kettle. An ideal cup of tea does not involve the use of a microwave. Clean, cold filtered water is also a must.
After the water has boiled, temper it with a couple of ice cubes or a few tablespoons of water to get the tea to the correct temperature. Alternatively, you may decide avoid bringing the kettle to a full rolling boil depending on what type of tea you’ll be making.
The goal temperature for each cup of tea will be different depending on the type of tea that you’re making. For example, I typically drink green tea, and the ideal temperature is approximately 165-175 degrees F. For black and herbal teas, the ideal temperature is higher.
Most people make one of two mistakes when it comes to making tea. They either burn it or over steep it. When either of these things happen, the flavor of the tannins in the tea is sharp and way too strong.
Using a thermometer to steep each cup or pot of tea will ensure that you don’t burn the leaves and give you a tastier cup of tea.
Additionally, it’s important to not over brew or over steep the tea. The general rule for brewing a cup tea is between three to five minutes.
Brewing times for herbal teas like tulsi ginger can be up to ten minutes. Use a timer to keep track and avoid over steeping the tea. Once the tea is brewed, immediately remove the tea leaves from the water.
For best results a brewing tea pot with infuser should be used. Additionally, if brewing one cup of tea, keep the cup covered with a plate or saucer while brewing to ensure peak flavor.
Tea Pots with Infusers
In addition, most tea bags can be used twice before tossing it out. The same goes for loose tea leaves. And even after you’ve brewed tea twice over, keep the used tea leaves as compost for your garden.
How to Serve Tea
Just because you’re not in London doesn’t mean that you can’t have a fine cup of tea. Proper tea should be served using a proper tea set. A tea purist like myself drinks tea without any added honey or sugar. Besides sweetener, some people opt for milk or cream. I find that a sweet treat like these grain-free banana chocolate chip muffins go nicely alongside.
Now sit back and enjoy your nice cup of tea.