Loose leaf tea made easy. Become a tea expert. Get the most flavor out of your favorite tea blend with these tips and tricks.
When brewing loose leaf teas, it's important to understand a little bit about the leaves and how they are affected by the water. Can you get by with just boiling water, and pouring it over any blend? Sure you can! But the temperature of the water, the steep time, and even the kind of material your cup is made out of can affect the delicate flavor of the finished product. Maybe your tea isn't as flavorful as you would like, or you always get a bitter taste? We can help with all this and more.
Read on for our Top Tea Tips, and soon you'll be brewing like a master.
Tip #1 - Heating the Water
When heating the water, use filtered, spring, or tap water that has good flavor and is fresh. Never boil water that has been boiled before. It looses its oxygen levels, and makes the tea taste flat. We always reccommend boiling, but if you're in a hurry no one will know if you use your coffee maker or microwave...
Come back soon for another post on exact water temperatures and times.
Tip #2 - Infuser Do's and Dont's
What kind of infuser should you use? There are plenty of choices on the market, but the most important thing to know is that your leaves MUST have room to expand and infuse the water to get flavor. So avoid those cute animal shaped infusers unless you are only steeping a small amount of leaves. (They are fun to look at, but don't allow the leaves to expand as the water passes through them.) Opt instead, for the larger, fine mesh balls, the basket style stainless steel, cloth steeping bags, glass filters, or even a coffee filter basket (the kind you put into your Keurig).
Then be sure you are not filling the infuser too full, or the leaves won't have room to expand. A good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of herb per 8 ounces of water, and if you are making it by the pot, add one extra teaspoon to the pot. So if the pot makes 4 cups, put 5 teaspoons of herb in the infuser. For the tea ball, you want to be sure it's no more than half full, to allow the herbs room to expand. We offer a large mesh tea ball, that has plenty of room to brew your favorite blend by the cup, or small pot.
Tip #3 - Get the Most Flavor
If your tea isn't flavorful enough, first try adding more leaves. You can also change the temperature of the water (try hotter or lower), and for herbal teas you can try steeping it longer. I don't recommend doing that for any of the teas that have black, green, jasmine, or oolong as a base. They will just get bitter. Add more leaves, or try putting them loose in the cup, and using a strainer.
When brewing your tea, ALWAYS cover the cup/pot. While the leaves are steeping, they are releasing volatile oils, and therapeutic components. You want them to stay in your cup, not be released into the air.
Tip #4 - Drinking Vessels
Remember when we said that what your cup or thermos is made out of can effect the taste of tea? Here's some of our conclusions on that front. The best option for your thermos is a glass insert, the best option for your cup is honestly china. But I find a ceramic mug to be just fine as well. Stainless steel is ok for herbs that are flowery, or don't have black or green teas as a base (like Princess E).
I like to brew a pot of tea and put it in my thermos for the day. My thermos is stainless steel. Sometimes I find that stainless steel can give some of my teas a tinny taste after it's been sitting for a while. (like Christmas Tea Party) But when I leave it in the glass pot, the taste is different. So try your tea in different materials, and see what you like best.
Tip #5 -
To Double Steep, or Not?
When drinking tea for flavor or fun, or to just enjoy your favorite cuppa, feel free to steep your herbs a second time. Most of them can stand up to a second go -round. Just keep in mind the flavor will be weaker. When drinking for therapeutic properties, always start a new cup/pot with a fresh batch of herbs. This will give you the most potent amount of healing properties in your brew.
Time for a Tea Party
Now you're ready for your next cup of tea! We hope you found these tips and tricks helpful. Enjoy your cup to it's fullest.