THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TEA PREPARATION
For the uninitiated, it may seem as though there’s only one way to make tea: add hot water and wait. But for tea lovers who appreciate the flavour profile of a perfectly steeped cup, the details are everything. Read on for a primer on tea preparation, from an overview of tea varieties to step-by-step instructions, along with a guide to popular tea accessories and how to use them.
Tea can be organised into five varieties: black, green, white, herbal, or oolong. These distinctions are based on both the source and the process through which the leaves were dried, rolled, oxidised and otherwise prepared for consumption. All tea is made from the camellia sinensis plant except for herbal tea, which is technically called a tisane rather than a tea. White tea is made from young leaves, which are typically heated by steam, oxidised, and dried, while green tea is scalded before rolling and drying. Black tea is typically made from mature leaves, which are fermented or oxidised without steam before drying, and oolong tea goes through a similar process to black tea, but with less time for oxidation.
Many teas are blended with flowers, leaves, spices, roots, and other flavourings, opening up a beautiful range of notes and fragrances. As a result, the world of tea is wide and varied, with nearly infinite combinations to try.
To bring out optimal flavour in your tea, it’s important to follow several key steps: using fresh, clean water (filtered or spring is best); heating it to the correct temperature; steeping the tea for a specific amount of time; and choosing accompaniments that will enhance, not spoil, the taste. Read on for expert guidance to help you prepare it perfectly.
HOW TO MAKE HOT TEA
Timing and temperature are the two key components of proper tea preparation, and they vary based on the variety you’re enjoying. Without the right combination, tea can become too bitter, strong, or weak. Follow these instructions to bring out the nuance in every cup.
STEEPING LOOSE TEA
To steep loose tea an infuser is necessary. You may use free-standing inside the teapot kettle or teacup of your choice. You may even wish to try a travel tumbler with an infuser integrated into the design to allow for quicker preparation.
STEEPING WITH AN INFUSER OR TEA BAG
To steep tea using one of our pyramid infusers or teabag, no extra accessories are needed. The fabric used to make the infuser or tea bag will keep the leaves from seeping into the liquid, which saves you from having to sieve them out before your first sip.
Regardless of the way your tea is contained, its variety – black, green, white, herbal, or oolong – determines the water temperature and steeping time.
HOW TO MAKE ICED TEA
In the United States, iced tea is one of the most refreshing ways to cool down on a hot day. It’s most often made with black tea, but can also be prepared from green, white or herbal tea if you’re in the mood for something less expected. Traditionally made in large batches and served from a pitcher with a generous amount of ice, it can be sweetened or unsweetened (simply called “sweet tea” and “unsweet tea” in the American south). For generations, this refreshing beverage has been synonymous with hospitality and summertime relaxation. The drink rose to prominence when it was served at the 1904 World’s Fair and word began to spread. It’s been one tall, cool glass after another ever since.
For generations, this refreshing beverage has been synonymous with hospitality and summertime relaxation. The drink rose to prominence when it was served at the 1904 World’s Fair and word began to spread. It’s been one tall, cool glass after another ever since.
CLASSIC ICED TEA
To prepare classic iced tea, make a pot of hot tea the way you usually would, following the temperature and timing guidelines recommended above for the variety of tea you’re using.
Again, for quick reference: brew black tea with water heated to 98 degrees Celscius and steep it for three to five minutes. Make herbal tea with 98-degree water as well, but steep it for five minutes or more to bring out the flavour. Use slightly cooler water for white and green teas – specifically, 80 degrees -- and only steep it for two to three minutes to keep it from becoming bitter.
To make a full batch of classic iced tea, brew it using a 1:1 ratio of water to tea bags, pyramid infusers, or teaspoons full of loose leaf tea. So, if you’d like to make eight cups of iced tea, use eight cups of water and eight teabags (or pyramid infusers, or teaspoons full of loose leaf). For strong iced tea, add an extra serving or two of tea as you steep the batch. If you prefer it sweetened, add ¼ cup of sugar for each 3.75litres of water and stir it vigorously until all the granules melt. Do this while it’s still hot or the sugar might refuse to dissolve.
Once you’ve brewed your tea, let it cool briefly and pour it into a glass pitcher. Refrigerate it for at least four hours, and then serve it chilled over ice with a slice of citrus or sprig of fresh mint in each glass.