HOW TO BREW THE PERFECT CUP
No matter how expensive the tea you buy, if you brew it wrong, it's awful.
This is a lesson many beginners learn the hard way. Most people who claim that they "don't like the taste" are repelled by an incorrectly brewed tea. This can create an erroneous enmity that can last a lifetime... But this can be easily avoided with better brewing.
Most restaurants, cafés and households that serve tea try to cut corners by simply throwing all teas into boiling water and serving visitors without any direction. This can be equated to as handing a new driver the keys to a Rolls Royce and told to "take it for a spin down the highway": it will probably not be appreciated and possibly wrecked.
Steeping good tea does not take a PhD, but it is also not as simple as chucking it into boiling water and leaving it to waste. There are easy ways, however, to steep the perfect cup. In fact, there are nearly as many brewing methods as there are teas. We've evaluated the many steeping methods and will provide the most effective and functional ways to infuse the ideal tea in this lesson.
The trick to steeping tea correctly comes in three parts: time, temperature and volume.
Using too much tea will make your tea bitter and your wallet empty. Too little tea will bring a weak cup and a sense of longing. The volume that is considered the "golden ratio" of leaves to water is one teaspoon of leaves per cup of water. However, the light and capacious teas will taste best with twice that.
Some like it hot. The ideal temperature for which to steep depends on the tea. Use boiling water (95 - 100 Celsius) when preparing black, dark oolong and herbal teas. These teas are tough and they can take the burn. However, it's important to use cooler (80 – 85 Celsius) water when steeping more delicate teas, such as green, light oolong and white teas. Remember to not over-steep, or the tea will taste bitter.
They say that "time heals all wounds." However, it also makes most teas turn bitter. The rule of thumb is 5 minutes for most black teas - any longer, and they'll taste almost as bad as coffee. Dark oolong and white teas, on the other hand, are much more forgiving. These teas will taste best when steeped for 7 minutes but will still be drinkable if steeped a little longer. For light oolong and green teas, a little TLC must be employed, steeping for only 3 minutes.
Besides tea leaves themselves, another important part in making the perfect cup is the water. Good water will make a world of difference in the taste of your tea. After all, even the finest of tea varieties will taste humdrum when prepared with poor water. Unfortunately, to call the water that emerges from your tap poor is a mild compliment. In fact, about a fifth of taps dispense water containing dangerous levels of hazardous materials. And these don't add to the flavour of your tea, at least not good flavour.
The proper equipment is also very important in the steeping process. When hot water is added, tea leaves can unfurl up to 5 times their dry size. So to make a great tea you need to give your leaves some leg room. A large infuser area is essential to imbue as much flavour into your cup as possible.
Which brings us to our final point. It almost goes without saying that, to make the perfect cup of tea, there is one more prerequisite: good tea. Buy the best that is within your budget. It will make a noticeable difference. No matter how expensive the tea you buy, if you brew it wrong, it's awful.