Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea
by Valerie Lull
Since this is National Hot Tea month, I am writing about tea and tisanes (herbal teas). I am writing about brewing tea. Brewing tea is a highly personal thing.
Some like their tea hot, some like it iced, some like it stronger than others. Some prefer it with milk, and others with both milk and sugar. In this column I'm going to give you some tips to help you brew your perfect cup of tea.
Storage – Loose tea tends to pick up the odors of the kitchen, so it is best to keep it in a tin or tea canister. Bagged tea is usually in individual wrappers, so it is already protected.
Loose or Bagged – This is a matter of preference. Some folks don't like fussing with an infuser and having to measure the tea out and find bags more convenient.
Tea Bags – They come in bleached and unbleached bags. Folks that are health conscious will often prefer the unbleached bags.
Quality of Tea – The larger the particles of the tea the better. Some of the really inexpensive teas are merely the dust from the tearoom floor. Broken leaf or whole leaf are generally better.
Also, the more expensive teas are usually a better quality. A lot of it depends on which country or estate the tea comes from, the climate, soil conditions, amount of sun or water the plant is exposed to, and the amount of shade or sun the plant gets.
There is also the question of pesticides and organic might be preferable to the regular teas.
How Much Tea to Use – Bagged tea is already measured, and one usually uses one bag per cup, though with some teas you can get a second cup from one bag.
For loose tea the rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of loose tea for each person plus one teaspoon for the pot. This can vary with how strong you want your tea. If you want a stronger tea add more loose tea. It is supposed to be better than steeping it longer.
Water – Tea likes oxygen so fresh cold water is best. Purified water is generally preferable to tap water, if you have it available. The better the quality of your water, the better your cup of tea.
Temperature – The various kinds of teas require different temperatures. Water for black tea should be about 208 degrees while green and white teas are better at 175 degrees.
You may want to make your tea water a little hotter or colder depending on your preference. Personally, for some green and white teas I prefer 165 degrees. A programmable electric tea kettle is very handy for this. You simply put in the temperature you want, and the kettle brews it to that temperature.
Steeping Time – There are charts available online that list the different teas and the temperature and steeping times required. Again, this can be a matter of preference.
A general rule of thumb is 2-3 minutes for black tea and herbal teas, 4-5 minutes for green and white teas.
Pouring the Tea – It is a good idea to put some of the boiling water in the pot and swirl it around to warm the pot first then put in the tea and the water.
Cream and Sugar – This is also a matter of preference. Some prefer their tea straight; others prefer sugar, and others prefer both cream and sugar.
Generally, green tea is taken without anything in it, though I have been known to use a little sweetener in mine. Herbal teas are usually taken without anything added to them.
Additional Thoughts – There are lots of things that can be added to tea to flavor it up like honey, agave, cinnamon, and lemon.
Experiment and find your preference. There are also many tea blends available and I get great pleasure trying out different kinds and finding the ones I enjoy the most.
I hope you find these ideas and suggestions helpful. For more information about tea go to my website.
About the Author
Valerie B. Lull, author of Ten Healthy Teas, is an herbalist and wellness coach. At the age of 45 she was diagnosed with Diabetes and staying in good health became her passion. She studied at the American College of Healthcare Sciences in Portland, Oregon.
Valerie has always had a passion for staying healthy and for the health benefits of teas and the various ways they can be prepared. Valerie’s passion for tea started in childhood, when she experienced a traditional-style teatime with her Canadian relatives.
Valerie’s new book, Glorious Garlic! is now on Amazon. Check it out.
You can read her “Healthy Life” column on the 4th Monday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.