Tea Starter Guide
So you've decided to take the plunge are explore the world of tea. It might seem a little intimidating at first, but once you break it down - it's just a matter of knowing a few basic rules and to be open minded and try as many teas as possible. If you already have the tools to make tea, just SKIP AHEAD to the next section.
Step 1 - Do you have something to heat up water?
Do you have a water boiler? If not - get one. We recommend buying something of quality and not the cheapest variety available at big box stores. This is a tool that will hopefully offer many years of service, so we highly recommend that you get something of quality regardless if it's stove top or electric plug in. If you opt for a higher end electric plug in, many varieties allow you to set the temperature. More on this later.
Hint: A common beginner question is brewing the tea IN the water boiler. This is not recommended.
Step 2 - Cup? Mug? Tumbler? Pot?
While you can brew tea in any cup or mug, there are dedicated tea mugs and pots that can make your life a lot easier. Most, if not all tea pots and mugs include a built in filter basket to brew your tea. Ceramic is the most popular, as it's durable. But there are other options such as glass. Of course, if you already have a mug, you can use that as well.
Step 3 - Choosing a tea infuser.
If you purchased a tea mug or pot, you most likely have this covered. But if you are using your own mug or tea pot, you will need to pick up some sort of infuser. There are many options. Paper based loose tea bags are an easy way to brew loose tea. Just scoop the tea into the bag and serve. There are other options like tea balls and spoons, silicone tea bags and metal basket infusers. Some people use a combination of these - i.e. one for home, one for work. They all perform the same function - infuse the tea in the hot water. Some are designed for single serve (i.e. a tea ball) while others are designed for larger amounts (larger basket style infusers).
Step 4 - Heat your water!
Now look at the package and you'll notice some basic brewing instructions - one of which is water temperature. If it's 212 then heat your water to a rolling boil. Otherwise, if it calls for cooler water (like for green tea) just boil your water and let it sit for a few minutes OR wait until just before boiling. Or add a splash or cold water to already boiling water to bring down the temp.
Step 5 - How much tea to use?
The rule of thumb for most teas is 1 tea spoon per 8 ounces of water. Some teas make need a little more, some less. This is a rule of thumb and part of it is determined by individual tastes. We also add extra for larger pots. Like the old saying "One teaspoon per cup plus one for the pot".
If the tea is "fluffy" then the spoon will be slightly heaped. Finer teas you can use a level spoon.
Step 6 - How long should you steep tea for?
The instructions will tell you the recommended wait time. It will vary, but generally green tea is shorter, black tea longer and herbal tea the longest. After this time, you may remove the tea. Some people like to leave the leaves in, or even do a second steeping. However be aware that some teas can get bitter if they are allowed to steep too long!
Some oolong, green and white teas are great candidates for re-steeping or leaving the tea leaves in and adding additional hot water. If you do this, we use a little less tea and slightly cooler water to prevent the cup from getting too strong.
Step 7 - Drink up!
Step 8(optional) - Ice it!
Some common questions:
Q. The tea tastes weak / strong?
A. Adjust the amount of tea used or the time steeping. Not every tea steeps exactly the same. Also, some teas can expand substantially. If you pack too much into your tea bag or infuser, the tea may not have enough room to "breath". Try a different infuser.
Q. What about adding sugar or sweetener?
A. We recommend trying all teas straight first. Adding sweetener is subject to taste, and used more for strong black teas are to balance the tartness of some fruit teas.
Q. What about milk?
A. Milk is commonly added to stronger black teas. It is not recommended for most other tea types unless the blend has a lot of spices (like a Chai)