Perhaps it's the chilly winter days that are approaching or perhaps it's the impending beginning of a new season of Downton Abbey ; the truth is that tea season is upon us. The bitterness and sweetness, perhaps it is its resemblance to the essence of life that make tea such a pleasurable experience. So here is some basic information I found helpful in my own tea journey.
What is Tea anyway?
All “true” tea comes from the same plant, called the Camellia sinensis. Any leaf, root, fruit or flower that comes from a different plant is considered an herbal tea. For example, chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves are considered herbal teas because they do not come from the traditional tea plant. It is important to distinguish between real tea and herbal tea since the flavor, health benefits and nutritional characteristics vary from plant to plant.
THOUSANDS OF TEAS, DIVIDED INTO 4 CATEGORIES There are thousands of different kinds of teas, each with their own individual appearance, taste and aroma. To make sense of all the variations, “true teas” (those made from the tea plant, or Camellia sinensis, versus herbal teas which come from other plants) can be categorized into 4 major categories: white, green, oolong and black. Generally, these categories refer to how much a tea is oxidized. The more oxidized the blacker the tea. See table below.
How to brew the perfect cup of tea?
Once you know the basics, brewing the perfect cup of tea is easy! If you can boil water, you can make tea. Fine tuning the flavor is essentially a game of manuvering and adjusting 3 elements: water temperature, steep time and amount of tea used.
With just a little practice, preparing a great tasting cup of tea is easy and will quickly become second nature. The right brewing equipment can also further simplify the process.
- Bring fresh, cold water to a rolling boil. Always start with the freshest, purest source of water available as this will heavily impact tea's flavor ... it is the main ingredient, after all!
- Add tealeaves to a teapot, fill-your-own teabag or infuser basket. Use 1 teaspoon – 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) per cup (8 oz) of water depending upon desired strength. Adjust to taste.
- Pour boiling water directly over black, oolong and herbal tea. Allow water to cool slightly before brewing green tea, white tea or yerba maté. Cover.
- Infuse (steep) leaves for 2-5 minutes; 3.5 minutes is a good standard steep time that works well for most teas. Do not oversteep or tea may become bitter. If you prefer strong tea, do not over steep; simply use more leaves.
- Remove tea sachet, bag or infuser from water or strain leaves.
How to Clean Your Tea Kettle?
To remove mineral deposits, boil equal parts white vinegar and water inside kettle. Remove from heat. Let sit several hours; rinse. Hand wash the pot's exterior with a gentle pot-scrubber sponge. Let tap water run for a few moments before adding it to the pot.
Now brew yourself a delicious cup of tea. Enjoy!