Friday, November 21, 2008

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea

Autumn is officially here, and soon to be on its way out. Along with the equinox, cooler temperatures sweep in and fall breezes begin to blow. As you spend your days out in the fresh air watching the leaves change hue, there's nothing that satisfies more than a hot cup of tea to warm your body up from the inside out. It's the wool sweater of the beverage world in the fall.

However, making this cup of tea isn't as simple as pouring hot water in a cup. To truly enjoy and savor your tea drinking experience let me offer you a few basic guidelines that will make each cup a memorable one. Our bulk herb department has a wide variety of loose teas and herbs to help get you started.

Common Mistakes in the World of Tea Brewing
Several common mistakes can have a drastic effect on the flavor of your tea and can even end up costing you more money. Pay attention to these little details next time you brew up a pot and see if you can tell the difference.

Correct Measurement
When brewing a pot of tea using bulk tea leaves most people just dump in the leaves until there's a nice pile at the bottom of the pot. That looks like a good amount, right? Wrong! Did you know you only need about one measuring teaspoon full of tea leaves per 8 oz cup? Measure it out next time and you'll see that you can have just as much flavor using far fewer leaves. Brewing the proper amount can make your tea drinking a much more affordable habit.

Full Leaf Expansion
Now that you have the proper amount of tea measured out, it's important to make sure the leaves have enough room to fully expand so that all of the flavors can be released. Your strainer should be large enough to let the leaves expand to 3-5 times their original size. Basket infusers work very well for providing ample expansion room. You can also brew the leaves right in the pot and strain them out afterwards.

Tea Particulars
Different types of tea require different steeping temperatures and times. Many teas will become bitter if steeped too long or develop an unpleasant flavor if the water is the wrong temperature. Follow these guidelines to bring out the full flavor in each variety.

Black Tea
Black teas can be steeped for approximately 4-6 minutes when the water is at a full, rolling boil.

Green Tea
Green tea leaves are more delicate than black and require a lower steeping temperature and shorter time. The water is the right temperature just before it begins to boil, when steam is swirling out of the kettle. Steep the leaves for only 2-3 minutes.

Herbal Tea
Herbal teas can be made with boiling water and generally steep for about 6 minutes. When making a medicinal herbal tea however, steeping times of 10-15 minutes will brew a stronger cup and can be more effective.

Next time you get out the teapot, follow these basic guidelines and see if you can taste the difference. Happy steeping!

Check out the teas currently available on Wedge Worldwide!

written by Katie Frerker