There are all kinds of teas on the market right now, but not everyone knows how to brew them correctly. If you use the wrong technique you could end up brewing yourself a hot cup of YUCK instead of a delicious cup of YUMMMM!
Black tea is the most frequently served in the United States. It is bold and rich, with half the caffeine of coffee. Flavored black-teas, like Earl Grey, can be served with lemon, while the plain kinds, like English or Irish Breakfast, are traditionally served with milk and sugar. The decaffeinated versions of these have improved in the past few years, and are usually quite tasty now.
Black-teas are dried and cured leaves, so it takes boiling water and time (three to six minutes steeping time) to unlock the optimal flavor. Be patient when steeping it: if you are using loose leaf, wait until you see the leaves uncurl. If you’re using the bagged sort, wait until the water turns a uniform color without stirring.
Green teas are delicious, and have half the caffeine of black. From Gunpowder (a smoky, bold flavor) to the wide range of jasmines (light, flowery flavors), green-tea is definitely for the person with the discerning palate, and a lot of tea-tasting time on their hands.
Green-tea is ruined by water that is too hot, and will lose its delicate green color and wonderful flavor. If the green comes out yellow, the water you used is too hot, and you should start over. Water should be well under boiling (160 degrees F or less). A good rule of thumb is to let your water cool until you just stop seeing steam come off of it. Brew green-teas for 3 to 4 minutes, and you can reuse your leaves to brew another pot.
White teas are a newer option, and have less caffeine than green (almost none) with even more subtlety. White-tea can handle slightly hotter water than green (just below boiling), and should steep for 4 to 6 minutes.
Herbal teas come in countless flavors, and many claim to have health benefits. Chamomile is light in flavor and supposedly relieves stress. Mint flavored is said to be good for the stomach. Fruit blends such as lemon or orange purportedly give you a non-caffeine kick and provide vitamin C. Herbal tea should always be brewed according to directions, but in general they should be brewed for a longer time but a lower temperature (below boiling) to unlock the most flavor.
Tea is a delightful way to enjoy something truly good for you. It takes a little practice, but the best cup of tea is brewed when you slow down and take time to do it for yourself.
Author: Andy Guides Jr