We’ve all been served a terrible cup of tea in a restaurant or cafe at least once in our lives, and most of us are also guilty of making terrible cups of tea once in a while. Everyone knows loose leaf tea tastes way better than tea made from teabags, but fundamental mistakes during the brewing process can destroy all that rich flavor, resulting in an acrid cup of tea that not even the most devoted tea lover would want to drink. Here are 3 “cardinal sins” of loose leaf tea brewing to be avoided at all costs.
1. Over-Steeping Your Tea
Some tea drinkers constantly worry their cup of tea will be too bland and end up steeping their tea for way longer than the recommended time. Over-steeping tea leaves causes the tannins in the leaves to be released. Tannins give the tea an unpleasant bitter taste and dry mouth-feel. If you want richer flavor, try using a larger tea infuser. Giving your tea leaves greater room to expand ensures all their natural flavors are soaked up by the water.
2. Using Water at the Wrong Temperature
You’re never going to get a nice cup of tea if using cold water, but using water that’s too hot or been boiled for too long can destroy tea as well. The longer you boil tea and the hotter it gets, the less oxygen remains in the tea. Oxygen reacts with tea leaves to extract their flavor, so when you have insufficient oxygen, the tea ends up bland.
For best results when brewing black tea, for example, bring water to a boil and immediately take the kettle off to let the water rest for a minute before brewing your tea. Green and white tea require more delicate treatment. Heat the water up to about 70 degrees Celsius (or 160 degrees Fahrenheit) before brewing your tea – do not use boiling water, or you’ll destroy the leaves.
3. Using Too Much Tea
Many novice loose leaf tea drinkers think that using a teaspoon of tea leaves is always the way to go. In reality, stronger teas may not require a whole teaspoon of tea leaves. For chai, assam or Earl Grey teas, half a teaspoon may be more than enough. If you’re drinking lighter teas like Bai Mu Dan white tea, on the other hand, using more than a teaspoon doesn’t hurt, especially if you need to get your tea brewed in a hurry. Discovering the right amount of tea leaves for each blend of tea involves a lot of trial and error, so have fun experimenting!
Hopefully, you will now avoid these 3 common loose leaf tea brewing mistakes. Brewing amazing tea takes some practice, but the results are well worth it. The next time you invite your friends over to your house, take the opportunity to show off your carefully-honed tea-brewing skills!