Tea should always taste excellent, and will only taste disgusting for several possible reasons:
- The water to steep it was lukewarm instead of hot.
- The water was so hot it burned the tea.
- The tea was low-quality.
- The tea steeped for too long.
Most fast food restaurants and convenience stores steep low-quality tea too hot for too long.
So-called tea drink mixes and carbonated tea drinks are tea-flavored, but barely resemble tea.
Tea is good for you
Tea has many health benefits:
- Removes toxins from the bloodstream
- Prevents clogged arteries as a blood thinner
- Helps the circulatory system from increasing blood flow
- Protects lungs from cigarette smoke damage
- Expands the airways to help asthmatics
- Strengthens the immune system
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Helps with weight loss
- Keeps blood sugar levels in line
- Stimulates relaxation
Tea also decreases the risk of some diseases:
- Various cancers
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases
- Tooth decay
- Infections and inflammation
Compared to coffee, tea has about 1/4 the caffeine and won’t stain teeth nearly as much.
Types of teas
Tea has over 1,500 varieties worldwide.
Excluding herbal tea, all tea comes from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis:
- Black – taken from the tea plant after the leaves have turned black
- Pu-erh – fermented black leaves
- Oolong – taken from the plant halfway between black and green tea
- Green – taken from the plant while the leaves are green
- White – made from tea plant buds
Herbal tea includes everything else and is usually other plants’ leaves or flowers (e.g., chamomile, cinnamon, mint, lavender).
Find good tea
Grocery stores usually have low-quality tea.
Don’t buy teabags because they’re tea plant leftovers and impede the steeping process.
Shop online for tea to get the best price and variety, and sample before stocking up because you can’t try before buying.
Look for high-quality tea shops:
- The tea display is larger than the pastry display.
- The tea is stored in airtight, opaque containers under subdued lighting.
- Don’t get tea stored in fancy non-airtight containers directly under lights.
- The staff is knowledgeable about teas.
- It’s a tasteful, relaxed atmosphere without too many distractions.
- Several dozen tea varieties.
- A wide variety of practical, not fanciful, tea accessories.
Get everything together
Use oxygenated water:
- Use freshly drawn tap water or filtered tap water.
- Bottled water has a plastic flavor and very little oxygen.
- Distilled, boiling or boiled water doesn’t have minerals that capture oxygen particles.
Get a heating element:
- Electric water kettles are quicker than a stovetop or microwave to heat water.
- If you’re microwaving pure water, set a toothpick in it or it’ll overheat instead of boil.
Use a good teapot:
- A teapot is both the brewing chamber and prevents the tea from cooling.
- You can use glass measuring cups or anything else, but a dedicated teapot adds to the ritual.
- Cast-iron teapots are often expensive, but they can absorb and retain plenty of heat.
- Ceramic and porcelain are usually cheaper than iron and transfer heat very slowly.
- A decent teapot comes with an infuser.
- An infuser is a small basket-shaped filter designed to sit inside the teapot.
- Don’t use the infuser during steeping, but keep it as a strainer.
Get a teacup:
- Ceramic cups keep the tea hot the longest.
- Small cups are quaint, bit they’re usually too small for most people.
How to brew good tea
A. Start heating water:
- The tea leaves will soak up some water, so put in a little more water than you expect you’ll want.
B. Preheat the teapot and wait for the water to boil:
- Fill with hot tap water to avoid losing heat later.
C. Pour the water out of the teapot when it’s hot enough:
- Green: when you first see bubbles
- White: shortly before it comes to a boil
- Black, Oolong & Herbal: right after it starts boiling
- If you want, blot with a paper towel.
D. Add tea to the teapot:
- Use a real measuring spoon, don’t guess.
- Add about 1 teaspoon for every 8 ounces of water.
- The measurement is called a teaspoon for this reason.
- Add 1.5 teaspoons for every 8 ounces for white tea.
- Add extra for stronger tea and experiment to find your preference.
E. Add the water back in and steep:
- The longer your tea steeps, the bitterer and stronger it becomes.
- Green: 1-3 minutes
- Oolong: 1-9 minutes
- Black: 3-5 minutes
- Herbal: 5-7 minutes
- White: 4-15 minutes
- Tea needs room to spread out.
- The water needs to circulate through the leaves.
- Infusers and tea bags impede the steeping process.
- Herbal tea needs at least 5 minutes, but extra steeping doesn’t make it bitterer or stronger.
F. Run hot water into the teacup to prepare it:
- Discard the water by pouring it through the infuser over the sink.
G. Pour the tea and drink:
- Pour your tea into a cup through the infuser or a mesh filter.
- Add extra flavor with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer.
H. Cleanup tea leaves usefully by composting them or sending through the garbage disposal.