Your grandma may have had mad skills when it came to preparing her afternoon cup, but darned if it seemed so simple that you didn’t think to ask her how she did it. Well, with so many amazing varieties of tea available in stores today, it’s a lot easier now than ever before. But still. If you want to go from an average teetotaler to that chick who everyone in the office envies, read on and find out grandma’s secrets to a perfect cup.
Store it Right.
Tea leaves will pick up the flavor of their surrounding. It’s best to store tea in an airtight container away from aromatic foods like spices or anything that will compromise it in any way. It’s best stored at room temperature rather than in the fridge or freezer.
It doesn’t really matter if you use bottled or tap, but make sure the water you use is filtered so that you don’t introduce and nasty unwanted flavors. Also, make sure your water has plenty of oxygen, which actually opens up the tea leaves and makes the flavor come alive. Oxygen? How do you make it happen? Easy, let water run from the tap for 30 seconds before filling the kettle or shake your favorite bottle. Don’t use water that’s been previously boiled, however tempting, because it’s oxygen content is not up to snuff.
Loose leaf tea is always a favorite, but it’s not always easy to find. If you can smell your tea before buying it, that’s a good sign. Just make sure there are no added ingredients and the scent is coming from the leaves themselves. The leaves themselves are also great quality indicators. Large leaves that aren’t too crushed makes a better cup than a bag of crumbs. If you’ve yet to find your ultimate flavor, purchase variety packs from reliable producers like Revolution Tea and you can sample interesting options like Honeybush Caramel, Southern Mint and Tropical Green.
Stand By Your Kettle.
When it comes to the perfect cup, the microwave just won’t do. Yeah, yeah, it’s an easy way to bring a cup up to boil, but that’s exactly the problem. Different teas require different water temps for optimal tastiness. Preparing black? 205F degrees is just right, and that’s not quite boiling! For oolong, green and white teas, you want to wait just until the little bubbles form on the surface. Herbal teas like Heart-Tee by Wild Hibiscus can take a little more heat, but tea made with boiling water will end up more astringent and less sweet.
Rock the Ratio.
One tea bag is good for about a cup of water. If you’re more of the loose leaf type, simply measure out about a teaspoon and place it in your tea ball. It too is perfect for that same 8 oz. serving.
Give it Time.
Tea needs time to steep. Chill out and let it happen. The general rule is 4-7 minutes for a black tea like Breakfast in Paris Black Tea by Stash. Green takes just 1-3 minutes. Good news for herbal lovers, you can keep your leaves in as long as you want with no worries. The bigger the tea leaves, the longer it will take to extract all of the flavor. Once it’s done, strain out the leaves or remove the tea bag. Tea that’s steeped too long will taste bitter.
Don’t Squeeze the Merchandise.
Once you’ve gone through all of these steps to make the best cup of tea you’ve ever tasted, you could kill it with one wrong move: wringing out the tea bag. Please, stop yourself before it’s too late. Gingerly scoop the bag out of your Earl Grey with a teaspoon (perhaps the one nana gave you?) and don’t worry about the excess liquid that accompanies it. Place it on your saucer (or the counter for gods sake) and carry on. Pinkies held high.