There are many ways to prepare a cup of tea and there are many factors to look into before you decide how to proceed. Do not be discouraged though, we are here to help, give our expertise and help you make your perfect cup.
To simplify things we broke it down to four parts all starting with the letter “T”. Type, Tsp, Temp, and Time. But lets not get ahead of ourselves for a minute. Before you get started there are a few guidelines we need to go over. Make sure you have the right equipment. Now it doesn't have to be fancy although I would argue that it needs to be convenient for you and your lifestyle. It can be as simple as a tea basket or as sophisticated as our cast iron tea sets. We are partial to our award winning BrewT. Simple, yet elegant, convenient, and easy to clean. It's something you will look forward to use. Also, make sure you have access to a filtered water source. You spend your hard working money on good quality tea, lets not waste it by putting hard, chlorinated water with it. Third, you need a timer, everyone has one, when I have been in a crunch, the timer on my phone is perfect. Last, it helps to have a thermometer. It's not required but for people just starting out it can be very helpful. Eventually you will be able to eyeball different temperatures. Now for the fun part in dissecting the 4 “T's”.
Type of Tea:
Type is very important because it determines what the other variables will be. Every type of tea, or herbal tea have different optimal settings that allow the best flavors to come through. Familiarize yourself with our different tea varieties. For this case we will assume you know what variety you have. We don't want to brew any mystery tea.
When you pick your tea you need to decide how much you want to drink. We suggests being conservative on your approach. You can always re-steep for a second cup, or just start over and make an additional cup. This way you will avoid wasting tea. This area is really up to you and your preferences. We give a suggested amount to use per cup to start from and you can adjust this up or down depending on how strong or how light you like it.
Temperature is very important, especially when it comes to tea (Camellia Sinensis). If you do not use the right temperature you can end up with a less than desirable cup. For instance: using near boiling water to brew a white or green tea actually may burn the leaves and leave you with a bitter cup. On the flip side using less than boiling water with herbals or black tea may not unlock the teas full potential. Getting the temperature right is only half the battle though. Which leads me to the other half.
Time goes hand in hand with temperature. It is just as important if not slightly more than its better half. Many people think that if I just let the tea steep longer the taste will become stronger. The statement is correct in partial. The tea will become stronger in astringency which will mask the teas true potential. This is especially true with White and Green Tea. Oolong and black tea are able to withstand a longer steep time but not by much. Herbals are typically the only ones that can be steeped for a longer period of time without becoming bitter. If you desire a stronger cup we suggest adding more leaf to be steeped.
Now that you have the perfectly steeped tea you have a couple options. Enjoy it just they way it is, or add something that may complement the tea or flavor of the tea. If you decide to sweeten your tea we suggest avoiding anything artificial or highly refined. Stick to real raw sugar or honey. Stevia is also a great choice for those wanting to cut down on the calories.
Remember, we are here as a reference. We suggest experimenting with your tea. Try it different ways. If the tea doesn't appeal to you at first, try a different approach. Some teas take milk very well while others are better as is or with a lemon. If you would like some tips on how to make a pitcher of iced tea visit our Iced Tea Category and scroll all the way down and remember that we try to have complementing ways to enjoy each specific tea on the tea's individual page.
Now if all this info weren't enough here is a little visual helper that can be a quick reminder of some fundamentals and tips on all our varieties of tea. We hope you enjoy!