I love tea. It’s one of my favorite drinks. And I’m not alone in this affection. There’re millions of us all around the world. Furthermore, you are more than welcome to join the tribe. And here’s what you need to do to steep a perfect cup of tea every single time.
1. You have to realize that there are different types of tea
Some of the most popular ones are: black tea, green tea, Oolong, white tea, red tea, yellow tea, Rooibos (which isn’t really a tea), Honeybush, Yerba Mate (which isn’t really a tea either).
Each of these types should be handled differently. And by differently I mean: different temperatures of water, different steeping times, and different amounts of the tea itself.
But first, let me give you some…
2. General tips
Steeping tea is actually very simple. All you need to do is pour some water over some tea leaves. But there are still some main rules to follow:
- Always use cold, fresh water for boiling. Don’t re-boil old water.
- Pour the water over the tea directly into the cup. Not the other way around – don’t throw the tea to a cup already filled with hot water.
- If you’re using tea in teabags, don’t squeeze the teabags after the steeping is done.
- Always cover the cup with something (e.g. a small plate) for the entire time of steeping.
- When steeping is done remove the leaves immediately.
- Don’t let the tea to cool down, drink it while it’s warm.
3. Steeping details for each type of tea
First, let me address the pink elephant in the room. What about the standard tea that comes in teabags from your local supermarket? There’s no rocket science in this case. That tea should be prepared in the exact way that has been described on the package. So you might as well stop reading here. BUT remember, the general rules still apply.
Now, let’s quickly go through the most popular types of tea and their perfect steeping conditions.
- Black tea: 0.5 teaspoon per cup; water temperature 96°C (205°F); steep for 3 minutes.
- Green tea: 1 tsp/cup; temp. 65-80°C (150-175°F); 3-4 minutes.
- Oolong: 0.5 tsp/cup; temp. 90°C (195°F); 3-6 minutes.
- White tea: 1 tsp/cup; temp. 80-85°C (175-185°F); 7-9 minutes.
- Red tea (Pu-erh): 0.5 tsp/cup; temp. 96°C (205°F); 3-7 minutes.
- Yellow tea: 1 tsp/cup; temp. 90°C (195°F); 3 minutes.
- Rooibos: 1 tsp/cup; temp. 96°C (205°F); 3-5 minutes.
- Honeybush: 1 tsp/cup; temp. 96°C (205°F); 5-8 minutes.
How do you know what kind of tea you have? Once you have some experience you can tell by the way tea smells and looks like, but the easiest way for a newbie is to ask the salesman to write this down on the package.
One more thing, as you’ve noticed not all numbers are precise in the table above. That’s because some types of tea can be steeped for various amounts of time using different temperatures of water. It’s up to you to find the perfect combination for the specific tea you want to enjoy.
4. Sugar, milk, and other things
There’s a number of different ingredients you can add to a cup of tea to make it taste even better (well, maybe not better, but differently).
- Sugar – some people like to add sugar to every type of tea. Personally, I don’t like to do it because it changes the taste of the tea in a much wider scope than just making it sweeter.
- Milk – goes best with classic black teas. Teas like: Assam, Ceylon or traditional English Breakfast.
- Lemon – best with Chinese teas. But add only a little if you don’t want to ruin it (it’s somewhat similar to adding salt to a dish – if you add just a little it improves the taste, if you add too much the dish becomes uneatable).
In a nutshell, the essence of this post can be found in points #2 and #3. It’s all you need to remember in order to steep a perfect cup of tea. Enjoy! … It’s almost 5PM where I’m sitting so it’s time to prepare my afternoon drink.
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