How to Brew the "Perfect" Cup of Tea
Brewing a perfect cup of tea takes practice and dedication. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Like anything in life that you wish to master, you must practice, practice, practice.
Fortunately, we’re talking about tea ... so I promise, practicing isn’t going to be painful. Hopefully this will be one thing you don’t mind practicing! And like anything you practice, after a while it will become second nature.
The first thing I'd like to show you is a step-by-step guide to brewing a perfect cup of tea. So here it is (drum roll, please):
STEP-BY-STEP TEA BREWING GUIDE
- Decide on the type of tea you are going to have.
- Then choose the best teapot for the type of tea you are using. You can pop over to our guide, Tea Pots for some general suggestions on choosing the best teapot for your tea.
- Fill a tea kettle with the freshest water you have. This is a crucial step, so don't skim over this thinking you already know how to brew tea. Remember, tea is mainly water.
- Bottled or Filtered water is best, if you don't have excellent tasting water from the tap.
- If your tap water is good, turn on the COLD water and let it run for about 10 seconds (this allows any sediment in your pipes to be flushed out, and forces oxygen into the water)
- Once you've filled the kettle, turn the faucet to HOT water, and let it run for a moment while you put the kettle on the stove to boil. Select the highest temperature setting on your stove to boil the water.
- Return to the faucet, and fill your Tea Pot with hot water from the tap, and set it to the side, near the sink (this warms the pot, and will help keep your tea warmer longer).
- Once you hear the tea kettle whistle begin, dump the water from your warming Tea Pot, into the sink. Then take the warmed Tea Pot over to the stove, add your tea, and pour the boiling water into the Tea Pot. (Tip: Bring the empty warmed tea pot over to the stove, where your tea kettle is, and only then lift the whistling tea kettle off of the heating element. Taking the tea kettle off of the heat to take it to the sink, even though it seems such a short period of time, will allow the boiling water to potentially drop a couple of degrees.)
- Let the tea steep in the pot according to the type of tea you are brewing (this is where your practice and experience comes into play). Steeping tea just the right amount of time is a matter of personal taste and different tea types will develop at different intervals. Consult the Tea Type Steeping Time Table for the type of tea you are making.
- While your tea is steeping, arrange your cup(s), get the sugar and creamer ready, or any other accoutrements you want for your tea (lemon/orange slices, honey, strainer, tea cozy)and add a teaspoon to your saucer.
- Now check your tea to see if it is the right strength for you. The darker the color, normally the stronger the tea; being able to judge this will come with time. Place a strainer on top of the cup (if you are using loose leaf tea) and pour the tea into your cup. Remove the strainer.
- This is the moment of truth. Once your tea is cool enough to drink, bring your cup up to your face, allowing the aroma to engulf you, and take a sip.
I suggest not adding anything to your tea the first time you try this, so you can experience the true notes and flavors of the tea, especially if this is the first time you've tried a particular type of tea. You can always add your sweetener or accoutrement of choice to the cup later.
To extend the time your tea will stay warm, you can add a tea cozy over your tea pot. There is only one caveat to adding a tea cozy over a teapot with loose leaf tea, since the tea is still in the pot, it will continue to steep, and may become too strong and/or bitter.
TEA TYPE STEEPING TIME TABLE
Below are some general water temps and steeping times
|TEA||WATER TEMPERATURE||STEEPING TIME|
|Black||205-212 F ||3-5 min*|
|Oolong||185-200 F ||3-5 min|
|Green||165-185 F (when air bubbles start to rise)||3-5 min|
|White||160-175 F||2-3 min|
|Herbal/Tisanes||205-212 F||5-7 min|
*On Black Tea, I personally prefer the shorter steeping time. This is an individual choice; you may want to try steeping your tea for different lengths of time.