We all have read a lot about the health benefits of tea – digestive, immuno and anticarcinogenic properties. Despite all the health benefits, the amount of coffee consumed in United States of America is much greater than the amount of tea consumed (As per report from Nationmaster). So why is tea consumption much less than the coffee consumption despite teas great health benefits? One of the many reasons is the lack of knowledge in brewing the perfect tea.
How to Brew tea:
Brewing tea is an art. It is not for no reason that Japan has schools for tea and award certificates for achieving certain level of expertise such as Chanoyusha, Wabi-suki and Mejin. Many people generally avoid tea since tea can be muddy, bitter and have a grassy flavor. But that is not true. For example, green tea has a clear and slightly sweet taste contrary to what most people think. In reality, tea is wonderful, aromatic and highly complex infusion. The way you brew your tea can affect the final flavor of the brewed tea. Chinese tea masters have long perfected the art of tea making and claim that there are four main factors that make the perfect cup of tea.
- Quality of water used
- Temperature of the water
- Quantity of the tea leaves
- Brewing time
Quality of water used:
The quality of the water used is a major factor that affects the final taste of the tea. Tea is highly sensitive to the mineral content and the taste of the water. Always use freshly drawn tap water for brewing tea. Use bottled water, in case the tap water is chlorinated or has a chemical taste. Never use distilled water for tea preparation. Distilled water is devoid of many minerals and will give tea a flat taste.
Temperature of the water:
If you want to make the perfect tea, you should take particular note of the temperature of the water in which you brew tea. “One size fits all” methodology does not work here. Each type of tea needs to different water temperature to coax out all the flavors of that particular type of tea. For example, boiling water (about 212 F or 100 C) is ideal to brew black tea. The general thumb rule for the water temperature for brewing tea is, lesser the oxidization of the type of tea used, cooler the water should be. Black tea and Pu-erh tea being the highly oxidized tea of all the tea types, boiling water is ideal to make such teas.
Quantity of the tea leaves:
One big mistake that most people do while brewing tea is they steep tea longer for the stronger tea. This is often the reason for a bad tasting, bitter tea. Longer steeping time usually burns the tender teaves making the tea muddy, and bitter.
For a stronger tea, use more tea leaves, dont increase the brewing time.
Usually a teaspoon of tea (1.75 gm) is enough for making a cup of tea. It is always better to note of the weight one teaspoon represents because the weight of the tea in one teaspoon will vary according to the size and shape of the tea leaves used.
The brewing time is a most important aspect that directly affects the final taste of the tea. Some tea which is tightly rolled or highly oxidized such as pu-erh or black tea require a longer brewing time while lightly rolled or fine tea such as yellow, green and white tea requires a much lesser time to brew.
One biggest factor in brewing the perfect tea is you! Each person like their tea differently and have to experiment with the brewing time. Some teas like Darjeeling, tastes much better when it is under-steeped. So take your time to brew your tea and reap the innumerous health benefits that tea offers.
Keeping all these information in mind when brewing your tea will help you make informed decisions rather than just following the instructions on the package blindly. You will find that you not only enjoy your tea more but also the process of making it!