Hot Tea Tips & Tricks

Posted in Fava Tea

Brewing hot tea doesn’t need to be complicated, so we’re here with a few tips on how to best prepare your next cup!

Tip #1: Know Your Water Temperature

Did you know that you can actually burn your tea? It’s true that many of our favorite blends steep at a rolling boil of 212°F, but there are some blends that quickly turn bitter and astringent if the water is too hot. Green teas, for instance, almost always steep at a lower temperature, closer to 160°F or 180°F, but it can vary from tea to tea. Delicate Japanese greens, for instance, can steep as low as 140°F, and most matchas do best between 160°F and 170°F. White teas and oolongs also often steep at lower temperatures, but most herbals, black teas, and rooibos blends do require a higher water temperature to brew properly, usually much closer to 212°F.

Tip #2: Get Your Ratio Right

We only sell loose-leaf tea, which means that we know the importance of correctly measuring because it can make or break your brew! Generally, 1 tsp of loose-leaf tea for every 8 ounces of water is recommended regardless of the type of tea, but you can add more or use a little less to adjust the strength of your brew. We suggest adding a little extra tea or rounding your teaspoon if you want a more flavorful cup as opposed to increasing the length of your steep time.

Tip #3: Timing Matters

Speaking of steep times, we’ve all been there. You’re excitedly brewing a cup of tea but then get distracted, leaving your forgotten cup steeping away on the counter. When you finally come back 30 minutes later, you’re left with a bitter, over-brewed cup of tea. While a few blends, like fruity herbals, can withstand longer steep times, most “true teas” like greens and blacks cannot, so it’s crucial to stick to the brew time listed on the package. Like with water temperature, over-brewing your tea can result in the burning of the leaves, not just a stronger flavor.

Tip #4: Choose Your Method Carefully

Boiling water seems simple on principle. You heat water until it’s hot. However, not all water heaters are created equally. If you don’t own an electric kettle specifically designed for heating water for teas, we recommend a stove-top kettle designed for the same purpose. While a bit harder to determine the temperature, you can learn to tell the difference by sight with our blog post here, and this typically allows the water to heat in a more uniform fashion. We typically don’t recommend heating water in the microwave or steeping with a Keurig or similar device, as these methods often do not result in a uniform water temperature consistent with what’s actually needed for your tea leaves to brew (Keurig brewers typically heat water to roughly 180-185°F). In the case of a Keurig, the leaves are also not allowed to steep long enough for a proper infusion unless you’re brewing your water and steeping after.

Tip #5: The Argument for Tea Baskets

Most tea leaves expand during the steeping process, which is why we recommend brewing tea in a vessel that allows for the leaves to remain loose in the water. Tea bags, while convenient, don’t allow the leaves to infuse to their fullest potential, resulting in a less-flavorful brew. Any option that allows the leaves to float more freely will give a fuller, bolder taste and a darker color, which is why brew baskets are often a better option than smaller tea ball infusers.

Tip #6: Re-steeping Again and Again

Did you know that you can often re-steep your tea leaves? Loose-leaf leaves often maintain their flavor for a second or third cup, especially popular options like oolong teas or Pu-Erh, which can sometimes be steeped 10 or more times while maintaining a flavorful brew! While some blends, primarily fruity herbals and some traditional green teas don’t lend themselves to this process, it can help to stretch many of your other tea leaves further. Remember what we said about sticking to the steep time? This is the exception! Add one minute for each re-steep for the best flavor (so if you steep your Earl Grey for 3 minutes the first time, steep it for 4 on the next cup). This method also naturally reduces the amount of caffeine present in the cup, so it can be an excellent way to enjoy a second cup of your favorite caffeinated blend in the afternoon!

Have any other suggestions for making the perfect cup of hot tea? Leave them in the comments below!

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