Wannabe Tea Connoisseur? Here’s 5 Tea Tips You Need Up Your Sleeve

You’ve undoubtedly heard about all the wonderful health benefits of tea, but are you drinking the recommended daily amount? And, do you really know how to make a proper cup?

If you’ve ever had bitter tea, you might have turned you off from drinking the recommended 2-5 cups daily.

Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: that bitter, unappealing cup most likely was not the tea itself, but rather the steeping method. So today, you’re going to learn how to love your tea by preparing it correctly.

Most teas cannot withstand boiling water. Pouring boiling water over lighter teas scalds them, releases too many tannins (hence the bitter flavor), and can even increase the caffeine content. Letting quality tea sit too long in water will also increase the bitterness as the tannins continue to steep into the water, affecting the flavor.

Tea leaves are delicate and complex, and each type of tea has its own preferred water temperature and steeping time.

Next time you prepare tea, check the guidelines below so you have the perfect cup.

1. White Tea

The youngest and most delicate tea, white tea should be steeped at the lowest temperature: between 158° to 167° F. White tea is the most susceptible to burning, becoming too bitter and too caffeinated, so take caution to get the temperature right. Optimal steeping time is between 2-6 minutes.

2. Green Tea

Green tea can also be rather sensitive to water temperature, and therefore prefers just slightly warmer water than white tea at 167° – 176° F. While it may be easy to forget and leave the tea in your cup, try to avoid that with green tea as over-steeping good quality green tea will make it seem bitter, as well. 2-4 minutes is ideal.

3. Oolong Tea

Slightly hardier than either white or green due to the longer oxidation period, oolong teas respond well to water temperatures between 185° – 206° F. Lightly oxidized oolongs are better toward the lower end, while heavier oxidized do well toward the higher end of that range. Oolong tea steeps quickly, in just 1-2 minutes.

4. Black Tea

Luckily, black tea does well with boiling water (or anything above 195° F), and therefore is a safe bet for anyone who doesn’t have a thermometer or variable temperature kettle. Depending on how strong you like your tea, black can be steeped anywhere from 3-5 minutes.

5. Other Teas

Dark tea, fermented tea (such as pu-erh), and herbal tisanes respond best to water temperatures exceeding 195° F, with herbals preferring boiling water. Be careful of the variation in steeping time though, pu-erh tea is ready in just 30-60 seconds, while herbs may need up to to 10 minutes, or more. You could also try Agarwood tea.

The simplest way to remember what temperature for which tea, is to think from light to dark, starting at 158° F for white, going up to 212° F for black. You can download a handy guide to tea steeping here.

How long you steep it is really a matter of the tea, and personal preference. Get used to checking the color, opaqueness, taste, and smell to determine when to stop the steeping.

By observing these guidelines when making tea, you will find more pleasure in your tea cup, and be more likely to reach the recommended daily quotient of tea to maximize its health benefits. So go prepare a cup, and enjoy!

Toffler Niemuth