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Steeping tea like a seasoned professional is a skill, but one that’s approachable and rewarding right from the start. If you’re interested in learning the tea steeping ropes, you’ve come to the right place.
When steeped well, tea can be ripe with fresh flavor, crisp with a soothing acidity, refreshingly sweet, and creamy. When steeped poorly, the flavors break down into an indistinguishable mush, the sweetness fades away, harsh bitterness arises, and everything good and pleasant about the tea disappears into oblivion.
You’re not interested in bad, bitter tea. You’re after premium, ethical tea that’s brewed with precision and skill. You’re after tea that’s bursting with flavor, that compliments your lifestyle, and that will help you accomplish your health goals. Here’s how you can achieve it.
Your tea can only be as good as the leaves you buy, so always start with fresh, premium grade tea leaves.
You’re in luck, because that’s our speciality.
Our tea subscription offers the opportunity to taste multiple teas per month, which is great for learning about tea and honing in your tea brewing.
Tea steeping around the world has evolved into two primary methods: Western and Eastern styles.
They both have their advantages and inconveniences, so choose whichever method best suits your circumstance and lifestyle.
Tea steeping in the East takes a few different forms, but the most common method uses a small ceramic cup with a loose lid, called a gaiwan.
Teapots of all shapes, sizes, and materials are the vessels that drive the Western style of tea steeping.
This tea type requires an extreme steeping environment to pull out the full realm of flavor contained within the leaves. For example, the black tea steep time can be as high as five minutes, which is unmatched by the other tea types with the exceptions of Pu-erh and Herbal.
The oolong type is the biggest of the pure tea categories, so steeping recipes can be quite diverse. Darker colored (more oxidized) oolongs will thrive under conditions closer to those of black tea. Lighter colored (less oxidized) oolongs will thrive when brewing conditions moreso resemble those of green tea.
The next few less oxidized tea types are more delicate and require some lighter conditions to pull out the full flavor without over extracting bitterness. To pull out the sweet, soft, green notes of green tea, use the follow guidelines.
Yellow tea takes it down another notch with a slightly lower temperature to extract that rare gentle sweetness without any grassiness.
White tea is the most delicate tea type.
When brewed gently, it will feature a light floral
sweetness and smooth body.
This aged tea type is ripe with earthy and spicy notes ready for the taking,
as long as you use a steeping method similar to that of black tea.
Herbal teas are infusions made with flowers, roots, and leaves that don’t come from the camellia sinensis plant. Since these are not true teas (like everything else we’ve discussed), they can require a variety of steeping methods. Examples of herbal teas are chamomile, hibiscus, matte, spearmint, and rooibos.
Generally, you can assume that an herbal tea is best made with very hot water for a long amount of time, though since this category is massive, there are exceptions.
If you taste your tea and decide that it’s not quite what you expected, there are a few things you can try to bring it to balance, as long as you’re using fresh, premium tea. If your tea isn’t excellent to begin with, your ability to hone in on the flavor is severely limited.
Here are a couple approaches you can take to troubleshooting and improving your tea.
It’s important that you only change one variable at a time when you’re troubleshooting your tea. If you change too many things at once, it will be difficult to keep up with how your adjustments affect the tea.
If you apply these troubleshooting tools, you’ll become more and more comfortable with your teas, and they’ll taste better and better.
The key is simply to be aware of what is happening in the pot and in your mug.
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