Are your pots of tea tasting bitter? This bitterness can leave many people thinking that they don’t enjoy tea. Although tea does have a small flavour of bitterness, it shouldn’t be offensive or unenjoyable.
Making tea isn’t rocket science but it does require some attention, patience and care.
Follow these guidelines to know how to make the best cup of tea.
Choosing your tea
First thing’s first, if you’re choosing low-quality tea leaves you’re going to get a low-quality brew. You can identify high-quality loose leaf tea by the look, feel and smell of the tea leaves themselves.
Depending on the type of tea you’re drinking, you want the tea leaves to be rich in colour and hold a rough thickness. If your loose leaf tea looks more like a powder you shouldn’t be drinking it. Tea that resembles dust is due to the build-up of tea fannings which are particles that fall off broken down and worn out tea leaves.
Fannings hold the smallest fraction of flavour and nutrition compared to the full tea leaves. You will find this tea dust in low quality and mass-produced teas often sprinkled with unhealthy artificial flavours. Although tea dust is inevitable with all tea leaves, when there’s more tea dust than tea buds it’s a sign of over-processing, poor care of the leaves and/or ageing.
When it comes to the appearance of your tea leaves, you want them full-bodied and strong.
High-quality tea leaves should hold their shape and feel rough and course in your fingertips. They should not fall apart when you gently handle them.
If your tea feels soft and light or they fall apart your tea won’t produce a tasty cup. Tea leaves that hold their shape when they sit in your hand will have a bolder and fuller flavour.
Although small, your teabag should offer a delectable aroma. If you hold up the tea leaves to your nose you should be able to experience the natural smell of the leaves. Whilst green teas will have a grassy and fresh aroma, black teas will smell earthy with a light sweetness.
If all you can smell is the teabag the tea leaves are sitting in, then your tea isn’t fresh or at its peak. If your tea smells overpowering and sweet, the tea leaves could have artificial ingredients and could be unhealthy to drink.
Being aware of the scent of your tea leaves can help you in distinguishing which ones are going to offer the best brew.
It’s time to brew
Once you have chosen your tea leaves… it’s time to brew!
This step is essential in bringing out the right flavours of your tea. If done incorrectly, it could leave you with a very unpleasant cup. One tea farmer even admitted… “I know when I first tried it I thought it tasted like sticks and bugs. A lot of that was just due to not knowing how to make it and probably not knowing what a good green tea is.”
Some people enjoy the ease of dunking a teabag in hot water and getting on with the day yet, this system isn’t fool proof and can result in that astringent bitterness we want to avoid. When brewing your tea consider these factors to make your chosen cuppa…
When you purchase your tea it should come with a recipe, this recipe will guide you on what the tea leaves prefer. Generally, green teas will prefer 80 degree water whilst black tea and tisanes can be brewed at 100 degrees.
With every purchase of Pure Tea’s range we give an easy to follow recipe card.
In addition to this, using filtered water will offer a more flavoursome and cleaner cup of tea that is free from the nasties that hide in tap water. Not everyone has access to filtered water but if you do, it’s definitely worth the switch.
The ratio of tea leaves to water can be subjective depending on what you enjoy. Begin with 1 teaspoon to every 240mls of water. This is a standard recipe that is enjoyed by the majority. If you prefer your tea stronger add no more than a ½ teaspoon more at a time. Adding too much will result in a very dark tea that is overpowering.
Steeping is the amount of time the tea leaves are left in the hot water. Steeping tea leaves for too long can result in bitterness yet not long enough will result in a lack of flavour. All tea leaves have a sweet spot when it comes to steeping and it’s the tea supplier’s job to know when that sweet spot is.
Teas have been made differently and therefore have a different recipe for brewing.
For green teas that are brewed at 80 degrees we recommend steeping for 3 – 4 minutes. For black teas that are brewed at 100 degrees we recommend 2 – 3 minutes. Herbal teas are more flexible due them generally not having true tea leaves (Camellia Sinensis) present in their blend.
Now you have your tea it’s time to sit back and enjoy. Tea is a beverage that is best drunk when you’re sitting down and relaxed. With calming aromas and flavours it deserves the attention. So take a deep breath, relax in your chair and pour your tea into your favourite teacup.