Brewing & Steeping Instruments
There is a myriad of utensils manufactured to make it easy for you to prepare tea. From the many tea kettles, some of which whistle or shut down automatically when a rolling boil has been reached, to tiny little tea infusers in the shape of a house or a teapot. Choose what you find is most convenient for you.
Loose decaffeinated teas leaves are usually broken up, so you may wish to use a strainer with smaller holes, if you don't wish to have as many tea leaves remaining in your teapot or cup.
Remember that tea brewed from tea bags that are commercially manufactured will generally not be of as good a quality as that brewed from fresh tea leaves. They are usually much stronger, and will require steeping time closer to three, than to five, minutes. And the small pores of the tea bag will not let as much flavor flow through. However you like it let your taste buds have the final say.
Brewing the Perfect Cup
As with everything, only your taste buds can judge how the perfect cup of tea is brewed. But we do have some suggestions and recommendations to help you determine what may be best for you. The perfect cup or pot of tea is determined by the following factors:
Type of Tea. The amount of tea leaves, water temperature and steep time depend on the type of tea to be infused, whether it is black tea, green tea, oolong, white tea, fruit blend, or an herbal infusion.
Water Quality. Because water is the primary ingredient, be sure it tastes good to you. You may wish to try bottled water.
Heating Water. Use only freshly drawn, cool, clear water. Bring it to a full, rolling boil in a covered kettle and pour immediately into the teapot or cups. Do not allow the water to over-boil.
Boiling. Some like tea better when the water used is heated almost to a boil, just when bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of the pot. This will generally produce a milder cup, since the tannin will be stimulated more by hotter water. For green and white teas, allow the water to cool for about 30 seconds before pouring on leaves.
Water & Oxygen. You may not want to let hot water stand for any length of time before pouring it, as it loses oxygen, resulting in a flat cup of tea.
Preheating. If you like especially hot tea, it is best to pre-heat the teapot or cups by rinsing some hot water in them.
How Much Tea. Add approximately one teaspoon per cup for your first experiment. Different size leaves will require different measures of tea. Green and white tea leaves can be reused for 1 or 2 subsequent brewings.
Steeping. Let black teas stand for 3-5 minutes, oolongs for 1-10 minutes, green for 1-2 minutes, white for 2-15 minutes, chai for 3-9 minutes, and herbals for 5-10 minutes, according to taste. We don't recommend letting tea leaves remain in the cup or teapot longer, as the tea will start to become bitter and stringent. And if you don't let it steep for the minimum time, it won't give you a rich taste, since the tannin needs some time to be released from the leaves.
Strong or Light. If you want the tea to be stronger, add more tea leaves. If you want it to taste lighter, add less. This, rather than changing the steeping time, will produce a much tastier cup.
Lemon or Milk. Tea may be served with lemon or milk. Cream may curdle in the cup and deaden the taste.
Herbals. These teas steep differently. Some require boiling over a period of time. Others may require just some hot water added for a brief period of time.
Iced Tea. Use twice as many tea leaves, since the addition of ice cubes to the hot brew will dilute the taste considerably. Experiment using different flavors of tea, fruit blends, and herbal infusions. Add a splash of fruit juice for a hint of sweetness. Allow tea to cool before refrigerating. Make sure you cover and refrigerate any leftover iced tea and consume it within 48 hours. Discard any iced tea that is older than 48 hours in order to avoid bacteria growth.
Storing Tea. Tea is sensitive to air, light, aromas, humidity, and heat. Its’ quality diminishes if subjected to any of these conditions. Consequently, it is very important to properly store your tea so that the quality and desired characteristics are preserved. You may want to keep the following tips in mind to keep your tea fresh: Use an opaque airtight container for each tea, and store at room temperature away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Only use clear packaging if the package has a UV coating and for zip lock bags, push out as much air as possible before sealing. Do not to store tea in the refrigerator unless the package instructions say it is okay. Store tea away from other products that have a strong aroma as it may pick these odors up if not stored in an airtight package. This includes storing near other scented teas and coffees. With proper storage, tea will stay fresh for about 6 months. Flavored teas will keep about half that time. Herbal teas vary widely. Be sure that any utensils used to scoop your tea are completely dry so as not to t transfer any moisture to the package and potentially damage the tea. Spent tea leaves can be recycled by placing them in the dirt of your house plants.