We put a lot of craftsmanship into our tea blends, but brewing them is as much of a science as it is an art. The correct leaf cut, water temperature, and steep time all make the tea’s flavour and aroma more enjoyable. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss each of these, so you can enjoy the science and the art of this beautiful experience.
Ready to make the perfect cup of tea? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Loose-leaf tea
- A steeper, like the one you get in your first monthly box from myteabox.ca
- A thermometer, because we’re getting serious
- A mug/teacup (preferably porcelain, but your regular mug will do)
- A teaspoon
- A kettle for boiling water
Generally speaking, for one cup (eight ounces), use one heaping teaspoon of tea.
The Right Temperature For Steeping
Many morning tea drinkers will pour piping-hot water into their mug as soon as the kettle stops singing. This is good for some tea types, but not all of them. The temperature of the water is important for the flavour of your tea. Once the kettle has boiled, pour the water into your mug or cup, then use your thermometer to check when the water has cooled to the appropriate temperature before adding your steeper of tea leaves.
- Fruit/nut blends and most herbal teas should start steeping as close as possible to 100°C (212°F), or full boil
- Black tea should steep at 90 – 95°C (194 – 203°F)
- Green and white tea should steep at 75 – 85°C (170 – 185°F), or a minute or two after the boil
- Oolong should steep at 82 – 87°C (180 – 190°F)
It’s important to use fresh water and never what’s left from the last time you used the kettle. Your tea needs oxygen to get the fullest flavour, and re-boiling the water removes a lot of the oxygen. If you re-boil, you might find your tea tasting metallic.
The Brewing Time
Brewing time is as crucial as water temperature. Set your timer and turn up that alarm, because you don’t want to steep certain types of loose leaf tea for too long. Follow these timing guidelines:
- Black Tea: 3 to 5 minutes
- Green Tea: 3 to 4 minutes
- Herbal Tea: 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the type
- White Tea: 2 to 4 minutes
- Oolong Tea: 1 minute, taste test for up to 5 minutes
These times are different than what you’d use for prepackaged, finely-cut teas in teabags. They don’t need to steep as long because the smaller leaves infuse much more quickly.
Why Use Loose Leaf Tea?
Commercially bought tea bags tend to contain finely-chopped leaves, and the extra processing affects the essential oils that give the tea its flavour. We advise using loose leaf tea in a steeper. Less processing means more flavour and more antioxidants, which means more health benefits, too!
Another great thing about a high quality loose leaf is that you don’t always need to throw out the leaves after the first steep. You may discover that your favourite blend from myteabox.ca gives different kinds of delicious in its second, third, or even fourth steeping!
Discover Your Joy
You’ll find a lot of different suggestions on how to brew your tea properly. 1984 author George Orwell had 11 tips for “a nice cup of tea.” Some of his tips were common sense, like putting the milk after the tea and avoiding sugar, but some were messy; Orwell disliked steepers and put his loose leaves right into the pot!
There’s definitely more than one way to brew a cup of something lovely. As long as these basic brewing guidelines are followed, discovering different styles (such as Orwell’s) is part of the fun! Try using clear containers and watching the loose leaves unfurl without a steeper, then straining them after. Or make an entire pot at once, and share with friends. And don’t forget, many tea blends are delicious both hot and iced!
A lot of what goes into enjoying a cup of tea is the atmosphere you create, and much of the joy of drinking tea comes from experiencing fresh flavours and intriguing blends. That’s why we’re thrilled to send three new teas each month to our subscribers. Each one comes with clear instructions for optimum brewing. Follow the science, discover your joy, and relish the art that can go into making and enjoying tea!