Am I a tea connoisseur? No, far from it, actually. When it comes to making tea, well, it seems I’ve been making it like a bit of an idiot, apparently. I think if I were to serve tea to a pom, they’d promptly spit it out. My tea, whether it’s an English Breakfast, Lady Grey or Earl Grey, consists of boiling water, three dunks of the tea bag to be specific and I’m done. That’s the way I like it BUT I think I’m doing it wrong. Actually, I’m pretty sure I am.
At my local café, there’s a lovely painting on the wall which explains how each type of tea should be made. Because I’m always there to order coffee, I’ve admired the creativity behind the painting, but not so much the actual reasoning why a certain tea is steeped longer than others, the temperature of the water etc. I never ever thought it made a difference, it just came down to how YOU have your own tea.
So, now, it’s got me a bit fascinated and interested in actually trying out the different methods beyond my three dunks to see if it does make a difference.
What I’ve learnt about making tea
The ‘type’ of water is important
Well, this constitutes making tea like an idiot BECAUSE, if you don’t have access to filtered water (first preference if you’re a fancy pants), you should let the tap run for a little bit BEFORE filling the kettle. Why? Well, it’s very scientific you see. Tap water loses oxygen if it’s been sitting in the pipes too long and tea needs oxygen to brew properly. Who would have known? Now that’s a science lesson for you!
Temperature is important
For green tea, the best temperature is around 70°C because of the more delicate flavour. Now I know why my green tea tastes a bit bitter when I make it. The water is too hot!
Black tea and oolong tea can apparently handle a higher temperature due to their more complex flavours, around 85°C.
If you’re a lover of herbal infusion teas, the good news is that water at 100°C is OK!
Brewing time differs with each type of tea
Whether drinking tea from a pretty tea cup or fancy tea infuser water bottle, steeping time (a name for brewing tea which I’m going to use to sound a bit fancy) is a thing and proof that my three dunk policy is way off the mark.
Green Tea – should be steeped for about 1-2 minutes because it’s a little more delicate than black tea. Oops, I just left the bag in the cup, no wonder it was so strong with tannin flavours!
White Tea – should be brewed a little longer, for about 1-3 minutes. Subsequent steeping can be done for less time because the water has already penetrated the leaf.
Oolong Tea – I have never really tried Oolong Tea but it is meant to be consumed in small quantities with a high tea leaf to water ratio and only infused for 30 seconds. Oolong can be re-infused up to six times, depending on your taste.
Black Tea – I might be close to on the mark here with my three dunks. Black tea is a bit of a personal preference tea when it comes to strength, but the recommended steeping time if you’re not having milk is about 45 seconds to 1 minute. If you like it strong, it’s 2-3 minutes.
Herbal Tea – I’m a big fan of jasmine tea as well as lemon and ginger tea. These need up to five minutes to really develop the flavours.
It’s a bit of a fine balance this steeping business, too long and it tastes so bitter and YUCK!
Milk and sugar aren’t needed
Now to put this information up somewhere in my kitchen for future reference.
How do you take your tea?