Tea Drinking:Brewing Tea The Right Way

Tea tastes even better when you know how to brew it the right way. Learn how to make the perfect cup of tea

Making the perfect cup of tea may seem simple - boil water, plop in a tea bag, watch the water change color magically! However, how you brew your tea can make a huge difference in how the flavor of the tea turns out. There are many variables that can affect the taste of your cup of tea, including water quality, water temperature, the freshness of the tea, the type of tea, the container you brew it in, and the type of vessel you drink it from. Adjusting all these variables for the type of tea you are brewing will result in the best possible cup of tea.

The first step in brewing a wonderful cup of tea is picking out a delicious fresh whole leaf tea. Bagged teas are conveniently found in your local grocery store and available in a wide variety of flavors and types, but only whole leaf loose teas will result in that perfect cup of tea. Check out the loose tea selection at your local organic or natural grocery, or at your local tea house. The vendor should have information available on their types of teas, when they were harvested, where they were imported from, and what quality grades they have available. Anything mid-range or above in quality grade will be fine for an everyday drinking tea. If you've never bought loose tea before, go with what you generally like in bagged teas. Do you prefer Earl Grey or English breakfast? Each of these popular varieties is available in a highly flavored loose leaf version. Do you like floral scented teas? An orchid or Jasmine Oolong may be more your cup of tea. The vendor should offer to let you smell any tea that you might be interested in purchasing, and some of the most reputable tea vendors may even offer to brew you a cup to taste so you can see if you'll like the tea.

Don't purchase more than an ounce of whatever you select. Fine teas can be priced anywhere from a few dollars an ounce all the way up to a thousand dollars a pound. Until you know for sure that you'll be drinking a particular type of tea very often, start with a very small amount.

Once you've selected your tea, pick up a gallon of bottled water. Don't use distilled water; the minerals in the water will actually improve the taste of the tea. If you don't already own one, you'll need a basic tea kettle to boil your water. If you're short on funds, you can always boil the water in a plain old saucepan. To start out, you really only need a "brew basket" and a mug. The brew basket will sit down inside your tea mug and allow the tea leaves plenty of room to expand without letting them escape into your cup of tea.

Time your brewing according to the type of tea you purchased:

White tea: 185ºF, Steeping Time 7-10 minutes

Green tea: 160ºF, Steeping Time 1-3 minutes

Oolong tea: 203ºF, Steeping Time 5-7 minutes

Blacks tea: 203ºF, Steeping Time 2-4 minutes

Enjoy your cup of tea!

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