The next time you grab a teabag, plunge it into a cup of boiling water and wish that it was stronger or more delicate, here’s the good news. There are many teas in the market today to suit your wish list.
A wonderful cup of tea needs to come to come to its own, in water that has come to a gentle boil and tea leaves that unfurl and infuse their beautiful flavours into the brew. While a tea bag is handy and good for those who are on the run, savouring the freshness and goodness of fine tea requires a longer preparation time, patience and top quality tea leaves.
Going by the sheer number of teas in the market today, it is important to know how to brew them so as to get the optimal flavour of your chosen tea. The differences in preparation primarily lie in the temperature of the water that is used, the steeping time of the tea and the extra options you can add like cream, sugar or honey.
Here are some tips that have been compiled to help you brew the different kinds of tea in the stores today…
Black tea is a great favourite among tea lovers, often due to the strong and flavourful brew that it creates. The finest black teas are created by ensuring that the tea leaves are allowed to be fully oxidized before they are heat processed and dried. This procedure turns the leaves into dark brown or black colours that give this tea its bold and rich flavour.
Since this tea can become bitter very rapidly, the steeping time for this tea is much shorter. The method of brewing it is simple – add hot boiling water to the tea leaves and use a timer to keep the tea leaves infused only for 1 and a half minutes. Separate the tea leaves and add cream and sugar as required. Avoid using distilled water to make this tea; instead begin with fresh, cold water that you must bring to a rolling boil. Use a ceramic teapot to get the best pot of black tea. Allow the tea leaves to infuse very briefly if you don’t like very strong tea, as the level of astringency and depth of flavour will increase with every minute you steep the tea in hot water.
Green tea is essentially tea that has not undergone the oxidation process of stronger teas. It is, therefore, delicate in flavour and has immense health benefits too. The preparation of this tea requires the right water temperature. If the water is too hot, it will ruin the brew. The steeping time is also important in order to extract the right balance of flavour. If you brew green tea for too long, it can become very bitter. Use a small amount of tea leaves and make sure that the water does not boil to over 80 degrees Centigrade. Pour the hot water into the tea leaves and steep for 20 seconds and then strain. Brewing green tea at lower temperatures will ensure that it is sweet and complex, instead of bitter and overpowering.
Oolong tea is the favourite option among those who do not prefer the lightness of green tea and fullness of black tea. It is much loved due to its lovely aroma and flavour. It is a partially oxidised tea, due to which it is a healthy tea too. To make a perfect cup of oolong, begin by boiling water in a pot, adding the tea leaves, adding boiling water (90 to 95 degrees centigrade) into the tea leaves and steeping for 3 to 5 minutes. If you want to re-use the tea leaves again for another serving, don’t keep the leaves in the water. Pour boiling water just before serving it.
White tea is usually made from the new buds and young leaves of the tea plant. The leaves are later steamed or fried to inactivate oxidation. The minimal processing of white tea makes it one of the best teas for its medicinal properties. It is important to remember that white tea is so delicate that it has to be prepared with great care. Use fresh, cold water to make a perfect brew. Make sure the water is under-boiled and steep the tea leaves only for 10 minutes. The colour of your tea should be pale yellow to light orange.
This herbal tea is a favourite among tea lovers for its robust flavour and due to the fact that it is caffeine-free. It is prepared normally by steeping the leaves for 3 to 5 minutes in hot, boiling water (100 degrees centigrade) as it is not a delicate tea. Rooibos is often made into beverages like flavourful lattes and exotic iced teas. Its deep amber colour makes it a delicious drink and many tea lovers like to brew it with honey for greater flavour.
Herbal teas have found a place in the lexicon of tea enthusiasts due to the tranquillity they provide and their healing properties. Some herbal teas are like tonics to give you an energy boost, while others are meant for relaxation. Whether it is jasmine, lavender, rosehip, peppermint or ginger root teas, all these herbal teas come with their own set of enzymes, oils and vitamins. The method of preparation remains the same as other teas, except for the fact that the water should only just come to a boil before being poured onto the tea leaves. It can, however, be steeped for 15 minutes to an hour.
Whatever tea you choose to use, make sure that you learn the techniques of brewing each type of tea, so that you can enjoy its true flavour. Only then, can it be the cup that cheers and the brew that will revitalise your body, mind and soul.