How the Best Tea is Brewed
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 consist of dried and cured leaves, so it takes a good amount of effort to get the best flavor out. It should be steeped in boiling water for four to six minutes for the most flavor, or three to four for a slightly milder flavor. To tell if it is done brewing, watch for individual leaves to uncurl (if using loose leaf) or for the water to turn a uniform color without stirring (if using bags).
Green tea has become quite popular lately, probably due to the sheer abundance of flavors readily available. From the smoky, over-the-top Gunpowder, to the delicately floral jasmines, green-teas are a wonderful option for those who want all the depth of flavor but even less caffeine than black.
Green-tea is easily ruined by brewing in water that is too hot. Water should not be more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit in order to preserve the vibrant green color and subtle flavor. Brew no more than three or four minutes, then use the leaves to brew up another pot!
White tea is just recently becoming popular. It has an even more delicate flavor than green, and has almost no caffeine in it. It should be steeped in water just slightly below boiling for between four and six 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.