5 Tips to Brew the Perfect Cup of Loose Leaf Tea
Tea production is a very skilled and precise process from plucking the leaves to the manufacturing process. However, you are also a part of this process once the tea reaches your home. There are a number of things you should do to enjoy the full flavor and character of a particular tea. Here are 5 tips to brew the perfect cup of loose leaf tea:
1. Brew the tea at the proper steeping temperature.
Every type of tea has an optimal steeping temperature. If the water temperature is too high, the tea can taste bitter and lose aroma. If the temperature is too low, you won’t extract much flavor. Black teas, for example, can handle much higher steeping temperatures than green teas. Your goal is to achieve the correct balance of all of the compounds in the leaves such as tannins, amino acids, etc. Usually, the packaging directions will tell you the correct temperature, but it may take some experimentation based on your preference in flavor.
2. Use quality water.
Since water makes up 99% of tea, it is important to brew tea with quality water. You are looking for clean and pure water. The pH and mineral quantity in the water will affect the quality of the tea. Many experts recommend a pH around 7, which is the pH of pure water. You also don’t want to use water with excessive minerals, aka hard water, because it reacts with and alters the flavor of the tea. You also want to stay away from water treated with chlorine, although it can be filtered out.
Some tea drinkers are fine using a one or two-stage filter system that can eliminate certain solids and chlorine in their tap water. I personally use a Pur filter. Certain spring waters can also be ideal for brewing tea, as long as they have low mineral content and a pH close to 7. Distilled water is not recommended since it has zero mineral content, which results in a flat taste.
Depending on the quality of your local water supply, you can make an informed decision on where to obtain your water for tea drinking.
3. Use the proper amount of leaf.
You want to get the proportions right between water and tea leaves. Otherwise, you risk the compounds in the tea becoming unbalanced. Usually, the directions will be provided as far as the quantity of leaves to use. Each tea is different, so follow the directions carefully to get the optimal flavor. You really need a measuring spoon to get the correct proportions.
4. Brew for the correct amount of time.
According to the tea drinker’s handbook (yes it’s a real book), brewing times can surprisingly range from as little as 10 seconds to as long as 20 minutes. The goal again is to balance the compounds in your tea for its optimal flavor and character. It is not wise to follow a rule of thumb, but rather you should follow the directions provided with the tea. Since different compounds in the tea take longer than others to dissolve in the water, it is a necessity to have some type of timer.
5. Choose the right teapot.
There is much debate online about the best vessel to steep tea. Once you become more serious about your tea, you may want to consider experimenting with such things as a Yixing clay teapot or a gaiwan, which both help enhance the flavor of the tea. A Yixing clay teapot is normally recommended to use with only one type of tea since it retains the flavor of the teas steeped inside of it. A gaiwan can be used with a variety of teas and serves not only as a teapot, but as a taster’s mug, and a tea cup.
If you follow these 5 tips, you will dramatically increase your chances of brewing the perfect cup of loose leaf tea.
About the Author: Todd Matthew writes articles for the website Tea Galaxy. He lives in Florida and is a huge tea lover. He has tried many varieties of teas and continues to share and learn everything related to tea. Check out his website at http://www.TeaGalaxy.com.