We've all tasted tea that was made without care and attention. In fact, many are turned away from tea altogether from a bad experience, thinking that they simply don't like the taste. Learning how to make tea well is even more important than selecting a high quality tea you'll love, and can make all the difference between a mindful moment, and one you would rather skip. We'll go through the most important steps to creating the perfect cup so that you can truly embrace your inner tea lover.
The first step to brewing the perfect cup, is choosing a high quality tea. Each type of tea is made differently, and will affect how you should brew (we'll go over this a bit later). What's most important when choosing the right tea, is understanding the difference between loose leaf tea and teabags, and choosing a loose leaf tea which matches your taste preferences. If you’re not sure of the differences between the types of tea, have a look at our comparison of the types of tea. Be sure to store tea in an airtight container or pouch, in a cool dry place, never warmer than 30 degrees.
When brewing, using too much tea can cause a bitter taste, yet using too little will result in a weak cup, so just as important as choosing the right tea, is choosing the right amount of tea. Most often, the appropriate ratio of tea leaves to water is one teaspoon (approx. 3 grams) per ~250ml cup of water. This however, can depend on the tea, as some are larger and more open, in which case an extra teaspoon may be required.
The importance of the quality of water used to brew tea cannot be overstated. Water high in minerals such as calcium or magnesium (hard water) can affect the taste of your tea, causing a harsh brew, resulting from the extra astringency being extracted from your tea. On the other hand, water with too few minerals can cause your tea to taste weak, as not enough flavor can be drawn from the tea. The best way to make sure the mineral balance of your water is right for brewing, is to use a carbon filter when drawing water from the tap or pitcher.
Just as important as having the right mineral balance, is having water that is fresh and has not yet been boiled. Once water is boiled, much of its oxgen is released, affecting the taste and freshness of the water. Make sure to replace the water each time it's boiled so that you get the perfect cup.
Learning how to make a cup of tea with the perfect balance of flavor relies heavily on the temperature of water used during the brewing process. The ideal steeping temperature varies depending on the type of tea. Tougher teas such as Black tea, and dark Oolong require hotter water so that they can break down and release their flavor. For these teas, it is best to have a temperate of around 100 degrees, however with more delecate teas such as Green, green Oolong, and White tea, a cooler temperature of around 80 degrees will protect them from tasting overly bitter.
Now that you've got the perfect water, boiled at the right temperature, it's time to steep your tea. This is where the real benefits of tea are extracted, and is often where most people make mistakes. Black, dark Oolong, and White teas should be brewed for approximately 3 - 5 minutes to extract just the right amount of flavor, depending on your preference. Light Oolong, and Green teas on the other hand, should be steeped for around 2 minutes, and no longer than 3 minutes if you prefer a stronger cup. It's also important to make sure to stir the tea a couple times throughout the steeping process, as this allows for proper extraction of flavors.
You've almost made the perfect cup of tea, but theres just a few more things which can enhance the flavor of your tea. Some like to put a little milk or sugar in their tea, the best way to add milk is to heat it up, so as to not cool down the tea too quickly with cold milk. It's also best to use white sugar, as the caremalised taste of brown sugar can greatly impact the taste of your tea. If you think you're up to the task, try adding some honey, cinnamon, or even a wedge of lime to enhance the taste of your tea. Remember, these shouldn't compromise the taste, but rather slightly enhance it. Have a look at our guide on tea pairings, and complement your cup with just the right flavor of food.
You've done it! Now you know how to make a cup of tea like no other, and make the most of a mindful moment alone, or with friends and family. If you’re a subscriber of Tea Discovery, you'll find guides and tasting notes included with all our teas, so you'll always be able to make the perfect cup. If you're feeling adventurous, learn how to make iced tea, and expand your tea skills.