Tea is an infusion made from the dried leaves of a flowering evergreen plant camellia sinensis. Originally native to Eastern and Southern Asia, it is now grown successfully in Africa, the Middle East and South America. The earliest records show that tea has been enjoyed in China since the year 3 AD. This popular drink has supported empires and even been stamped into bricks to be used as currency.
Today many people enjoy tea of various different types, origins and flavors around the world that make up an industry worth over 12 billion dollars. Tea drinkers regularly enjoy the beverage served hot, iced or made with specialty recipes like Matcha, Boba, Chai and Thai tea. In this article we will explain the common methods of brewing tea to better inform your purchasing decisions and give you the knowledge needed to create your favorite cup of tea at home. We even detailed our 10 reasons to drink tea on our blog.
Just like our previous article on home brewing coffee, there are a few things to take note of before starting to ensure the best tasting cup of tea possible.
– Pre-heating your cup that will hold your tea will prevent the drink from cooling too quickly and creating excess bitterness. It can keep your tea tasting fresh longer if you drink slowly over longer periods of time.
– We always recommend using clean filtered water for both health safety and the best possible flavor. The flavor of impurities in your water will transfer into your tea. Tap water varies from place to place and can drastically change the flavor of your tea.
Hot Brewing Tea
Hot brewed tea is the classic way to enjoy this drink. Steeping the loose leaves of tea in hot water enable the tea to release its flavor and infuse it into the water. Each type of tea has a specific brew time that should be followed to prevent excessive bitterness created when tannins are broken down. Tea tannins are natural chemical compounds found in the plant that create pigment and act as a natural defense mechanism. Allowing your tea to steep too long releases these compounds into your drink, leaving a bitter astringent flavor.
If you enjoy a stronger cup of tea, the key is to use more leaves or tea bags rather than adjusting steeping time. Increasing the amount of tea will give you the stronger cup you desire without any of the bitter tannin flavor.
We created this simple guide to help you brew your favorite tea, from white to rooibos. You can brew in your cup, a teapot or even a French Press.
Iced tea is made by brewing a hot concentrate and diluting it with ice. Refreshing on a hot summer day or enjoyed on a warm fall evening to ward off the cold, this method of tea brewing is incredibly popular and can use any type of tea. Remember to use ice instead of water when diluting the concentrate or you will have warm tea with no ice left.
We created this guide for iced tea that takes into account the concentrate. We use double the recommended amount of tea compared to hot brewing.
Cold Brew Tea
Cold brewing tea is similar to cold brew coffee in that you steep the loose leaves in cold water over an extended period of time. This creates a more mild drink with less tannin bitterness. Steep time is much less strict making it the perfect drink for those who don’t have the time or patience to watch the clock.
Matcha is a potent powdered green tea estimated to be 10-15 times stronger than normal green tea. This tea is often toted for its myriad of health benefits, which you can read more about here.
To prevent clumping, a special small whisk is normally used to mix the powder. If you are shopping for Matcha tea, we sell the powder on our site and you can purchase a bamboo matcha whisk on Amazon.
Thailand is the origin of this sweet and creamy milk based drink that perfectly balances out the heat of spicy Thai food. It is made by layering whole milk or milk substitute like coconut milk or sweetened condensed milk over a sweetened vanilla tea. The bright orange color in restaurant drinks comes from food coloring in a powder mix they use with the tea.
Boba “Bubble” Tea
This tea drink from Taiwan combines sweet tea, tapioca pearls aka Boba and optional additions of milk or various toppings. The boba pearls add a chewy texture to the drink unique to bubble tea. You can make various combinations of drinks using different sizes of boba pearls, different flavors of tea and different types of milk and fruit pieces etc.
Chai is the Hindi word for tea and it originally defined a mix of spices brewed for health benefits in India. Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns originally made up traditional “Masala chai”, with black tea leaves later added to the mix. Today’s chai mixes combine this spiced tea with sweetener and milk to create a creamy spiced drink that can range from earthy to savory depending on the blend.
Storing Your Tea
The best way to store tea is at room temperature in an airtight tea canister. Keep tea away from heat, light, air, and moisture.
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