Monday, April 4, 2011

Tea 101, what makes a great cup

So I just realized after all I did with this blog last year (not that much) I never actually posted the basics of how to brew a good cup of tea.... so sorry, so here goes.

First things first, start with a good tea, but at this point it really doesn't matter what you start with as long as you are starting, for this example I will use some loose leaf Sencha Green Tea.

  • The average cup of tea 8 oz, needs approx. 1 teaspoon of leaves (or one tea bag). 

  • Put into your infuser or if you are bagging it set it in your cup. For this I am using an Adagio Tea ingenuiTea brewer (to the right though I am showing a typical wire mesh infuser). 
  • Now lets boil our water.The quality of your water WILL affect the taste of your tea, so make sure if you have off-tasting water you use either a filter or bottled water.  Slowly boil this really will affect the waters taste

  • For this part your tea will determine the temp that you boil your water at:
    • Green tea bring your water (slowly) to around 150-160 F and only steep for about 2-4 minutes, 3 being a good average. 
    • Black tea (as well as Rooibos, African red tea) you want to truly bring it to a boil and steep for about 5-6 minutes. 
    • Herbal teas or Tisane should be around 5 minutes, now there are lots and lots of types so this may need a little testing to get it right. if its bitter it may need to be reduced in time a bit. 
    • Oolong tea is a tea fermented between Green and Black its best temp is right around 190 F but steeped longer than Blacks at around 5-8 minutes. 

Its a good idea to have a thermometer handy if you don't have an automatic kettle (and even then sometimes its still a good idea). But if you don't a good rule of thumb (first keep thumbs away from boiling water... ouch) is small bubbles float on the waters surface at about 160-170 F. Then as it gets hotter around 180-190F you will start to see the little stings of bubbles form from the bottom of your kettle, after that the party gets started at a rolling boil of about 212 F. 

Remember once you have brewed your tea if you are using a higher quality loose leaf you may get 2 or 3 steeps out of it. If you are using a bag tea, its only going to be good for one (more than likely).

Resist the temptation to "squeeze" your tea bag, that will only make your tea bitter. 

And know that its not like ribs, the longer you slow cook the better it gets doesn't apply here. Timing is everything here in tea, if you the tea in too long it will become over steeped and bitter. But the flip side is true too, if you don't leave it in long enough it will be weak tea... so experiment, find what you like.

Enjoy, I know I am.... I am drinking this cup right now 

*For Iced tea preperation, basic amounts can be doubled, then add ice... so brew double strength and add equal amounts ice and water to suit your tastebuds. 

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