Depending on how particular you are with your tea, steeping and serving can be a bit of an art. Differences between tea types be it green, black, herbal and even blended tea such as Essiac can all have different steeping methods, water temperatures, and even cooling times.
We'll cover everything here in a general large overview of the different methods you'll be wanting to use when making your tea - as it's probably one question we get asked here the most from customers wanting to make sure they're making their tea correctly!
Table of Contents:
Herbal tea is quite possibly one of the easiest teas to brew. Since herbal tea is more consumed for benefit rather than taste, the main goal here is to get as much steeped out of the leaves/roots (or even bark) as much as you can, whilst still keeping strength in mind. How long you should brew will really just come from familiarity with a particular herbal tea over time - but in my opinion, it's usually the longer the better.
If you are doing shorter brews of perhaps 1-2 minutes you're most likely going to be able to re-use the leaves again throughout the day up to 3 times so please keep this in mind too - just to make them go a bit farther.
For therapeutic reasons, most will suggest 2-3 cups a day of any particular herbal tea anyway.
Water should generally be boiling.
As mentioned above, 1-2 minutes is normally the minimum and with up to 7 minutes (usually) being the maximum unless stated otherwise in our product description.
Again this can differ depending on what you're drinking. You wouldn't want as much Turmeric as you would have Mullein, but in general, we like to say 1 teaspoon is reasonable. This can be tricky with more leafy herbal teas that don't really sit well on a teaspoon, in which case we say 'a decent-sized pinch' is enough.
This can be a bit of a tricky one as there's just so many opinions, methods, and also types of tea out there. We will be focusing on the most agreed-upon methods here, along with not getting too technical.
Challenges with Brewing Green Tea
Green tea is a delicate tea that when made correctly can taste subtle and amazing, but when brewed incorrectly or too long can become bitter or too strong. An appreciation for green tea will be developed with experience and sure enough, after a while, even the finer differences of burnt leaves from over-boiling will start to bother you.
One thing of note is that air is green teas enemy so be sure to make use of resealable bags when storing, and away from sunlight. You'll be wanting to store this in a relatively cool place.
Use Smaller Cups
The reason that smaller cups are used, particularly within Asia - is that green tea should be consumed just as poured without letting it cool too much.
Avoid Using Boiling Water with Green Tea
Why shouldn't you use boiling water with green tea? Green tea contains both Amino acids and Tannins. Amino acids will be affected as temperatures higher than 60c, and Tannins will be affected at 80c. Around these temperatures, approaching 80c is the best for a good green tea.
Water should generally be kept around 80c, close to boiling and then left to sit for a short while.
Experiment with 1-2 minutes steep firstly, and then try 2-3 minutes. See which you prefer!
2 grams per cup is the general rule. Adjust for how many cups your teapot can hold if using one.
The following instructions can also be used for Oolong and Pu'er. Black tea, known as 'red tea' in China, is quite simple to prepare but if you've steeped it too long you'll probably know it. It becomes quite strong rather quickly but isn't as delicate as green tea and a little harder to steep incorrectly.
It's best to bring the water to a boil and then leave to cool a little before serving. Some will say to steep for 3-4 minutes but in my opinion, you'll definitely be wanting to try 1-2 minutes at first as 4 minutes will be too strong for many. You won't need much black tea at all to get a full rich taste and is best kept to a non-heaped teaspoon per cup.
Bring the water to boil and then leave to cool for a few minutes.
Try 1-2 minutes at first and then increase to 3-4 minutes steeping time if you want it stronger still.
2 grams per cup will ensure both flavour and decrease the chance of being too strong.
Chai tea is pretty interesting in that you can prepare it a few different ways. You can simply place it in boiled water as is, with no milk or with milk. You can fry it in a frypan on a low simmer. You can simmer it in a large pot of milk or water, you can add honey or sugar. It's fairly flexible. We've actually made a post before on how to brew chai tea here which goes into more detail.
Two Main Ways to Brew Chai
Your main two options here are a short way or the long way.
The short way is adding 3-4 grams to a strainer in a cup, steep for 4 minutes and add milk. However, personally, I don't think this way is really comparable to the slightly longer way of leaving to simmer in milk in a pot for a more extended duration.
To do this, simply add around 7-10 grams to 200 ml of milk in a pot. This will give you 2-3 cups. Don't boil the milk, this will, of course, burn it and change the whole taste of your chai. You'll be wanting to keep it at a simmer, stirring regularly to avoid the milk hardening on the top. Once the colour of the milk has changed to a much darker brown, feel free to add some honey or even sugar and serve. Don't leave it too long to drink, it's best hot!
Bring water to a simmer, but don't go over this. Never boil.
This should be called cooking time and may take around 10 minutes of simmering in a pot to extract enough spice and flavour. It's worth it!
Simmer 7-10g in about 200-300 ml of milk.
We're glad that this one's easy to make - because fruit tea should be easy and fun.
Ways to Serve
Serving it Hot
You'll either be serving this hot or leaving it in the fridge overnight to chill and really extract as much of that fruit flavor as you can. If serving hot, about 3-4 grams is the norm and with steeping time 3-4 minutes is usually great. With fruit teas containing hibiscus, you might want to watch the colour of the water as it can get strong pretty quickly.
Serving it Cold
If iced, well..... we've made a guide on iced teas earlier too that also goes into more detail, but simply put - place around two to three heaped teaspoons in a liter of water to chill overnight in the fridge. Bring the water to boil first, as this will help with the extraction of flavour. There's no need to worry about temperature or burning here, the fruit is strong stuff!
As hot as you can! Then start steeping immediately.
Chilled? Overnight in a liter of water. Hot? 3-4 minutes.
Chilled? Two to three teaspoons per liter. Hot? One to two teaspoons.