Steeped to perfection:
How to brew tea like a connoisseur

on October 23, 2023

Brewing tea is as much an art as it is a science. However, as it turns out, it is a little more complicated than pouring hot water over some tea leaves.

In the words of George Orwell, "the best method of making it is the subject of heated debates." This underscores the fact that there is no universal approach when it comes to making tea. With a myriad of tea types, and individual preferences, the art of brewing tea becomes a creative endeavour where the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few tips that will make your favourite drink even better.

The water

Given that tea is mostly water, it is only logical to begin with this essential ingredient.

It's always a good idea to use water that hasn't been boiled before. Tea loves oxygen, and water that's been previously boiled tends to lack the oxygen levels necessary for the tea to express its full aroma and taste.

Additionally, opting for fresh, "soft" water is crucial for brewing that exceptional cup of tea. And in case you don't have access to soft water, turning to packaged drinking water is the ideal choice.

The leaf

Look for leaves that are consistent in colour, size, and shape, and feel dry and crisp to the touch. To maintain tea's quality, ensure it is stored in an airtight container, shielded from both sunlight and moisture. This safeguards the tea's flavour and aroma from any potential degradation.

As a thumb rule, use 2.5 grams of tea leaves for every 200 ml of water to ensure that the flavour is distributed evenly. If you like your tea stronger, don’t steep it for long. Instead, add more tea leaves to intensify the flavour without sacrificing its delicate notes.

Indulging in loose tea certainly demands a little more effort and attention. However, the extra effort is well worth the endeavour. The result is a cup that brims with richer and more nuanced flavours - making the additional preparation time truly rewarding for any tea enthusiast.

The brew

When it comes to brewing tea, timing is everything. For optimal taste, it's recommended to brew your tea just before the water reaches its boiling point. However, if the water has boiled and subsequently cooled, it's advisable to discard it and start anew with fresh water. This ensures the presence of adequate oxygen which is required for the tea leaves to unfold their flavours.

And finally, to ensure a great cup of tea, it's crucial to adhere to the brewing instructions that come with your tea. This is because over-brewing can cause the release of extra tannins, which can make the brew bitter and leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

The steep

The perfect steeping time for your tea is a matter of personal preference and depends on the type of tea you're using. For black tea, steeping for three to five minutes is recommended, while green tea requires a shorter steeping time of two to three minutes. Similarly, white tea and oolong tea are best steeped for three to four minutes, to preserve their delicate flavours. Red and herbal teas, on the other hand, benefit from a slightly longer infusion, typically lasting five to six minutes.

The cup

After your tea has steeped to perfection, all you need is to choose the perfect cup to enjoy it. The cup is not merely an accessory. It plays a significant role in enhancing the tea-drinking experience.

It is best to avoid drinking tea from polystyrene cups. Not only do they make the tea excessively hot to enjoy immediately, but they also absorb flavours while introducing their own plastic or papery taste.

Instead, it's ideal to enjoy your tea from bone china cups. These cups beautifully display the tea's colour and boast a thin rim that prevents any scalding while you sip. However, if bone china cups are not available, ceramic or glass cups can serve as excellent substitutes, allowing you to enjoy your favourite drink to the fullest.

…and most importantly

Sitting back and unwinding.

Savouring a cup of tea is not just an activity, it's a feeling. Take the moment to inhale its aroma, savour its taste, and embrace its comforting warmth. You needn’t shy away from experimenting with different types of tea and brewing methods. Your perfect cuppa is just a delightful exploration away.

And there you have it. A collection of insights that will help you approach tea brewing like a seasoned connoisseur. May your tea experiences be nothing short of exceptional, bringing you moments of pure bliss and a newfound appreciation for the art of brewing tea.

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