We know how this might sound – most of you are probably wondering what this story is even about…“who doesn’t know how to steep tea?” you might be asking. Boil water, steep your tea bag, done, right?
Well, the art of tea drinking goes way back, as does the proper way to steep tea. “The ultimate goal of making a cup of tea is to make tea that is exactly what you like best,” the book Tea Here Now by Donna Fellman and Lhasha Tizer says. The secret of doing this, however, is to be able to repeat your method again and again. For National Hot Tea Month, we wanted to boil it down–from the water you choose to use to the optimal temperature and steeping time for specific teas; here are some tips from Tea Here Now to make every cup of tea your best:
- Measure your tea carefully; you can use the palm of your hand, a teaspoon, or a special tea scoop. Use approximately one rounded teaspoon per cup for short-leaf varieties of green, oolong, and black, and up to a tablespoon for long-leaf varieties. Remember that tea leaves are variable, so follow your supplier’s directions until you know how you like it. For herbal teas, use more and check the recipe. If you have a scale, three grams is a good amount for most teas.
- Choose your water. While Tea Here Now says that the best water to use is water drawn from the spring in the dawn hours, preferably from the same area where the tea was grown, that’s obviously not possible for most of us. You can use spring water or distilled water – whatever you prefer. The minerals in spring water add body and can enrich the flavor of teas; it also lacks the chemicals that have been added to the water that flows out of our faucets. Some filters take the minerals as well as the chemicals out.
- Pre-heat the teapot and teacup. Now here’s an interesting additional step: when the water is almost boiling, pour water into teapot and teacup to preheat. When pot and cup are warmed, pour water out.
- Steep the tea! Put a measured amount of tea into a teapot and pour water of the appropriate temperature over the tea leaves and let the infusion steep for two to six minutes depending on the type of tea.
- Black tea likes to steep in 205-210°F water for about four to five minutes.
- Green tea gives off flavors at about 175°F – a fine green tea leaf will taste stewed if brewed too hot. Green teas will usually brew for two to three minutes.
- Oolong tea is best brewed between 180-195°F; the greener the oolong, the lower the temperature. Brew for four to six minutes
- White tea can be brewed at 185°F.
- Herbal teas will usually brew for five to ten minutes, depending on the types of herbs.
- Decant the tea into your teacup, sit down, center yourself, and enjoy!
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