Fill the kettle with water, put it on the stove, boil, and pour over your tea bag or tea infuser…right? Well, not exactly. Making the perfect cup of tea isn’t difficult, but it’s more than just steeping tea in boiling water for a few minutes. Also, different types of tea call for variations in brewing. If you bought tea bags, then read the instructions on the box for how to make tea (novel idea-right?). If you purchased loose leaf tea, keep reading.
- How to Make Tea Properly: 5 Steps to a Perfectly Brewed Cuppa
- Tea Bags vs. Loose Leaf Tea: Which is Better?
- Tips for Brewing That Perfect Cup of Tea
How to Make Tea Properly: 5 Steps to a Perfectly Brewed Cuppa
Don’t worry, making tea in 5 steps is an easy process. Once you start making your favorite tea the correct way, you won’t even have to think about it anymore. The keys to making the perfect cup of tea is water temperature and steeping time, although water and tea quality is also important.
1. Use Cold, Fresh Water
Use spring water, filtered water (like Pur or Britta), or cold tap water to brew your tea. Basically, if your water has a funny taste, your tea will also have a funny taste. After all, tea is 95% water!
2. Use Quality Tea
Choosing a higher quality tea than basic grocery store brands doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Although most tea aficionados will tell you to only brew loose leaf tea, you can find decent quality tea bags. However, buying loose leaf tea doesn’t mean you can’t simply make your own tea bags.
Unbleached, empty tea bags are inexpensive and enable you to indulge in multiple varieties of tea without buying boxes of 10 different tea bag varieties.
3. Measure Tea Before Adding to Your Cup
If you’re making loose leaf tea, then 1 level teaspoon (2 grams) is perfect for an 8 oz cup. However, when brewing green tea, white tea, and oolong tea-especially in a cup that’s larger than 8 oz, you might increase that to 2 teaspoons. Black tea is the strongest, and sticking to 1 teaspoon is best unless you want stronger tea.
Of course, tea bags are designed to hold the perfect amount of dried tea leaves per 8 oz cup and you don’t have to worry if your tea cup is more of a tea mug. If you’re filling your own tea bags, you’ll still need to measure.
4. Mind the Water Temperature!
- Black Tea
- Let it boil! Your kettle will whistle and bubbles will break the surface.
- Oolong Tea
Water should reach 190-203°. Steam will be plentiful, but no bubbles should break the surface.
- Green Tea
Water should reach 170-185°. Your kettle should emit wisps of steam only.
- White Tea
Traditionally, water would reach 170-175°, much like green tea where only wisps of steam should escape the kettle. However, many people find the tea more flavorful when the water reaches 185-190°. So experiment to see which you prefer.
5. How to Steep Tea the Right Way
Not only do most teas require slightly different steeping times, it is essential to completely remove the tea leaves or tea bag from your cup once steeping is finished. Longer steeping time does NOT equal stronger tea!
Tea Bags vs. Loose Leaf Tea: Which is Better?
Although tea bags are easily and rather inexpensively purchased, have you ever decided to try a box of tea only to discover that you don’t really like that particular brand or variety? One of the reasons might have been the lower quality of the tea itself.
Buying loose leaf tea means you can buy a couple of grams of multiple flavors quite cheaply (enough to brew 1 or 2 cups), and then only purchase a larger amount when you know you like that variety.
Since tea is simply dried leaves rehydrated in water, loose leaf tea is usually fresher and more flavorful once brewed (buy from a trusted tea store). Also, you can easily pack your own tea bags using T-sacs. These are unbleached tea bags that are inexpensive, available at most grocery stores, and allow you to easily brew loose leaf tea without buying infusers or tea balls.
Tips for Brewing That Perfect Cup of Tea
- As mentioned above, you don’t make stronger tea by steeping it longer in the cup. This simply makes your tea taste bitter by releasing its bitter flavor chemicals. Instead, add more loose tea to your infuser or tea bag, or add additional tea bags to your cup.
- It’s important not to use warm or hot tap water for making tea. Let the tap run until it’s cold. This aerate the water and ensures the tea leaves release their full flavor into your cup.
- Although bubbles should break the surface for black tea, it shouldn’t reach a rolling boil. This simply releases too much oxygen and gives your tea less flavor.
- If you accidentally leave the kettle on too long, simply remove it from the heat and let it rest for up to a minute.
- Green, white, and oolong teas are often enjoyed a second and third time! Steeping tea multiple times can enhance subtler flavors of the tea and might be worth trying next time you want a refill.
- Ideally, you should brew loose leaf tea with an infuser, as it allows the tea leave to fully expand during steeping. If you do use a tea ball, try to find an extra large one.
Whether you choose loose leaf tea with an infuser or T-sac, or even use these 5 steps with a regular tea bag, you’re sure to be enjoying a more flavorful, satisfying cuppa the next time you’re craving tea. What are you waiting for?