A Great Cup of Tea: Its As Simple As 3-2-1.

by Dr. Sal Giorgianni, Pharmacist and Owner, Dragonfly Botanica Apothecary and teas

spot0417_ pg 19 article pixThere is lots of advice about the best way to make beverages.  Every coffee barista and bartender has a method to get that perfect brew.  And so also for tea.  Tea drinking is steeped in culture and tradition.  In formal tea ceremonies in Asia and India not only the tea type but the order of presentation and the way prepared are rituals dating back millennia.  Similarly, Buddhist monk preparation of matcha, now very popular in the US, before meditation is similarly ceremonializd.  The English and Irish made grand rituals of High Tea that today can be enjoyed.  Even the traditional everyday household method of making and serving tea included “The proper way to prepare and serve a proper cup of tea”.

As tea gains popularity in the US many grand traditions have been adopted and provide a sense of an “event” to making and drinking tea.  Tea-sommeliers stick by a set of rules about water temperature, tea type and steeping time (see chart below) and are very fussy about the types of tea pots and infusers used.   The protocols and procedures for tea-aficionados would rival that of any wine oenophile!

While these approaches can be fun, for most of us who just want to enjoy a great cup of tea there are few rules and lots of ways to Keep It Simple.  First a word about the three most important components: water, tea and sweetener.  If you don’t use good water you won’t have good tea.  Sure, tap water will suffice but the odor and taste (particularly water on The Space Coast) will add to the tea and generally detract from the true tea taste.  So, use good water.  Either good store bought or home purified water is perfect. Next is the tea product.  Mass produced tea bags, even fancy high-end ones generally are not made from the best tea cuts.  They are usually the fourth or fifth cuts or even tea processing by-products (think mass produced hamburgers). If you want to enjoy tea, robust taste and all of the health benefits, a good quality lose leaf tea is what you want.  These tea products are really no more expensive than commercial tea bags.  And yes, you can even buy your own tea filter bags and load up your own bags of tea goodness.  Lastly, the sweetener.  Tea is a plant product.  Whether it is a traditional tea leaf, or an herbal or floral nothing harmoniously sweetens tea like a good honey.  Local honey is almost always the best type of honey.  Yes, local honey is portable too!  Honey sticks are now readily available to have on-the-go and at work.  What to make the tea in?  So many options.  Tea pots can range from lovely cast iron or fine bone china to inexpensive plastics.  There are also some great infusers that can be used in any cup and even some fantastic portable containers to make ice tea on the run.

Simple Tips For Simple Tea Making:

Measure 1 heaping teaspoonful of tea for normal strength and 1 ½ teaspoonful for stronger tea or iced tea.  Put into a tea bag or steeper.  Boil water (tea pots with temperature controls are great) to proper temperature range. Cool if needed for more delicate teas, such as true green or white tea.

Steep tea for the times indicated in the table below.  Steeping tea for longer does not make leaf tea stronger it makes the tea bitter…so, if you want a stronger taste add a bit more tea.

Steeping Times 

Most fresh whole leaf teas and blends can be steeped twice, brick/cake & blooming teas up to three times.

Time          Water Temp.

White Tea:            3-4 min.   160-175 degrees

Green Tea:            2-3 min.   160-175 degrees

Oolong Tea:          3-4 min.   205-210 degrees

Black Tea:            3-5 min.   205-210 degrees

Pu-Erh Tea:         2-5 min.   160-175 degrees

Fruit Tea:             4-5 min.   205-212 degrees

Rooibos:                4-6 min.   205-212 degrees

Herbals:                5-6 min.   205-212 degrees

Blooming Teas:   2-3 min.   205-212degree

 (Water boils at 212 F)

Ice Tea Time In Florida Is Here!

Making Iced Tea from loose leaf tea couldn’t be simpler.  Compared to premade tea homemade iced tea has no preservatives or additives and retains the beneficial antioxidants of tea.

For leaf tea: 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoonful’s; for Fruit Tea: 1 ½ to 2 teaspoonful for each 8 ounces of iced tea. You can always use more tea or fruit to make it more robust.  Using a steeping vessel or disposable self-fillable tea filter bag are the best ways to make great iced tea at home.

Hot Brew Method

Before you add your tea, pour the hot water into your pitcher or cup to fill it about halfway.  Next, add your tea leaves and steep for about four to six minutes.
Before removing your tea, fill the pitcher or glass up with cold water. Remove the steeped leaves and pour your brewed tea over ice or refrigerate until cold.

Cold Brew Method

Place your loose-leaf tea of choice into a pitcher or glass.  Using cold water, fill up your brewing vessel. Make sure to cover your tea leaves.
Leave the tea leaves inside your pitcher or glass & place the entire mixture into the fridge. Allow it to steep for 3 Hrs. for a single serving or 8 hours or overnight for a large pitcher, cooling perfectly. When you’re ready to drink, simply strain into another pitcher or glass and add sweetener if desired.  To make 1 gallon of great tea just buy a good quality gallon of distilled water, add 1 to 1.25 ounces of tea and let set overnight in the refrigerator…strain and enjoy!

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Stop by our shop and we will be happy to help you learn simple ways to enjoy this simply delicious beverage. 6450 n. Wickham Road Suite 102, Melbourne Fl / 321-622-8155