What Is The Best Way To Steep My Tea?

by Steven Popec 1. October 2012 11:29

Experienced loose leaf tea drinkers know that the right brewing process is critical to making the perfect cup of tea. Steeping tea for too long can make it too bitter, while not steeping it for long enough can lead to a thin and watery taste.

Just how long should you steep tea in order to make the perfect cup? What kinds of water should you use? Steeping methods vary around the world, but there are some general rules to follow.

Before steeping

First, make sure you start steeping process of your loose tea with fresh cold water. Cold water has more oxygen in it, and oxygen helps draw out the flavor of tea. To preserve as much oxygen as possible, make sure you pour the water as soon as it starts to boil. Letting the water boil for too long will allow oxygen to escape.

Contrary to what many believe, you don’t have to boil water in order to make a perfect cup of tea. In fact, only black tea should be brewed with boiling water. If you’re brewing oolong tea, try to pour the water just before it reaches its boiling point. For green tea, pour the water when it reaches approximately 180F. At cooler temperatures, green tea tends to release more flavor and less bitterness.

Many tea experts recommend using filtered water to brew tea. Those who live in big cities often have chemicals in the water that can destroy the delicate flavors within complex tea blends. If you want your tea flavor to be as pure as possible, then it’s best to use filtered water.

During steeping

After pouring the heated water into the kettle, timing becomes very important. Different types of tea are steeped for different amounts of time.

Black tea: Steep for approximately 4 to 5 minutes

Oolong tea: Steep for about 2 to 3 minutes or 4 to 5 minutes, depending on stage of oxidation.

Green tea: Steep for about 2 to 3 minutes.

If you want your tea to be stronger, let it steep for closer to the maximum range using more tea leaves. Leaving it beyond that range will cause it to be overly bitter and not as tasty.

Many people believe that steeping their tea for longer will make it have a richer flavor. This is not always true. The best way to extract more flavor from your tea is to add more tea. In general, one heaping spoonful of tea per 6oz tea cup is enough. Add more if you want more flavor.

Other methods

The method we’ve listed above is the traditional method of brewing tea. However, it’s not the only method. Some people brew tea using a special Chinese ‘Gonfu’ method, while others used a Guywan system. Some of these methods require special equipment and unique blends of tea leaves. They lead to slightly unique tea flavors that complement different blends of tea.

Ultimately, you need to choose the tea steeping method that works for you. Some people like their tea flavored using a certain method, while others can’t tell the difference. Test out a few different methods to see which one you prefer most.

Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Loose Tea, Part 2: The Brew

by Elena Popec 16. July 2012 10:16

A visit to your tea shop will probably lead you to a very reasonable question:  what do I need to brew my loose leaf tea at home?  Tea vendors generally cater to all kinds of customers, from the novice brewer to the veteran tea enthusiast.  If you’re overwhelmed by the array of tea pots, kettles, tea service sets, and mysterious gadgets out there, know this:  you don’t need all, or even half, of that stuff.  With a few (wonderfully inexpensive) tools, you’ll be able to get the most flavor and enjoyment out of your loose leaf tea. 

One of the most important tools, a decent kettle, probably already lives in your kitchen.  Yes, decent:  not top-of-the-line, not fancy, not high-tech, just decent.  If you can fill it with water, put it on the stove, and pour hot water out of it safely, it’s sufficient.  An electric kettle works just fine, too (in fact, you might find the temperature control on an electric kettle to be very useful).  The only other really necessary tool is a tea infuser; these can be purchased for less than $10.  Popular models include a mesh spoon that rests on the rim of your cup, or a mesh ball (or fun shape like an animal) on a chain that hangs in your cup.  Any model, whether you spend a few dollars or a lot more, does the same thing – it allows the tea leaves to float in the hot water, steeping and releasing their color, flavor, and aroma into your cup. 

Yes, a kettle and an infuser are all you need to make a fantastic cup of tea.  You don’t need the kettle with the built-in infuser, or the decorative pot, or the collection of bamboo tea tools.  And unless you’re hosting High Tea, you don’t need the pretty pot with the matching cups and saucers, either.

Now that you have your kettle and infuser, you’re ready to brew.  Start with cold, filtered (if possible) water in your kettle.  For the best flavor, you don’t want to actually boil the water; ideal temperatures are somewhere between 149° F and 210° F.  Generally, the darker the tea, the hotter the water should be.  Most kettles whistle when the water in them is boiling, so listen for hissing and remove it from the heat before you hear the whistle.  While the water heats, prep your favorite cup; add about one teaspoon of tea to your infuser, and set the infuser in the cup.  When the water reaches temperature, pour it gently over the infuser and let it sit for about 1-3 minutes, depending on the tea (generally, the darker the tea, the longer the steep).  For stronger tea, start with more tea leaves, but don’t mess with the steeping time; increasing the steeping time will make your tea bitter, not stronger.  Finally, remove the infuser and enjoy your soothing cup of perfectly brewed tea.  Yes, it really is that easy!

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Tea Talk

What Are The Largest Tea Producing Countries In The World?

by Steven Popec 13. July 2012 12:07

Unlike many crops, tea is produced in only a few specialized locations around the world. Interestingly enough, tea leaves only grow naturally in southern China and eastern India, which means that the crops had to be imported around the world before tea production could begin.

Today, tea is grown primarily in Asia, although significant tea-producing regions have sprung up in South America and Africa. Today, we’re going to provide a brief overview of the world’s largest tea producing regions.

China

China is the world’s most prolific tea producing country by far. In 2010, it produced nearly 1.5 million tonnes of tea, beating its nearest competitor (India) by approximately 500,000. China has a wide variety of popular teas derived from the camellia sinensis plant.

India

India contains some of the world’s most famous tea-producing regions. The country’s most popular exports include Assam, Nilgiri, and Darjeeling tea, all of which are available in black, white, or oolong blends. Assam, located in the western part of India, is one of only two places in the world where tea grows naturally.

Kenya

Coming in at 3rd on this list is Kenya. Tea and coffee are the most popular agricultural exports in Kenya, and the industry has continued to grow at a rapid pace in recent years. Kenya produces a number of different varieties of black, green, white, and oolong tea. 

Sri Lanka

Tea has become popular in almost all regions colonized by the British. The British took over Sri Lanka in the 19th century, rapidly turning it into one of the largest tea producers on the planet. Today, the region’s blends of Ceylon teas are known throughout the world.

Turkey

Moving away from East Asia and Africa, Turkey is also one of the world’s most well-known tea-producing countries. Turkish tea often refers to ‘çay’ – a special blend of black tea. However, a special blend of white tea called ‘Rize tea’ is also popular. Both Rize tea and çay tea are produced around the Black Sea, which is a particularly good spot to grow tea due to its mild climate and high precipitation. Turkey also has an advantage in that its inhabitants don’t usually drink coffee or alcohol, making tea the country’s most popular beverage across virtually all demographics.

Vietnam

Vietnam is a close 5th behind Turkey in terms of tea production. Tea is one of the most popular drinks in Vietnam. Being located right next to southern China, tea has a rich and storied history in Vietnam, and it has been produced for thousands of years in one form or another. Vietnamese tea is produced in both the highland and lowland regions of the country. The most popular blends are jasmine tea, artichoke tea, and lotus tea.

Conclusion

Rounding out the list of the world’s top 5 tea producing countries are Iran, Indonesia, Argentina, and Japan at number 6, 7, 8, and 9 respectively. However, tea production can be found in varying amounts all over the world, from the United States to Brazil to Nepal, making it one of the world’s most popular beverages

Why Loose Leaf Tea?

by Elena Popec 29. June 2012 10:46

Tea is the second-most popular beverage in the world, so the chances are good that you’ve enjoyed a hot cup of this soothing brew.  Maybe it’s even one of your favorite drinks.  Given the global popularity that tea has enjoyed for the past few hundred years, it’s not surprising that it has evolved into a quick, convenient option.  For many people around the world (including most Americans), brewing tea is as easy as steeping a store-bought tea bag in a cup of boiling water.  In fact, since its inception in the early 1900s, the tea bag has become extremely popular for its convenience.  A trip to nearly any grocery store will reveal the immense success of the tea bag; in an aisle full of various flavors, styles, and types of tea available in bags, you’ll scarcely find a serving of the tea bag’s predecessor:  loose tea leaves.

But with tea bags so convenient, so easy, so readily available, why make the switch to loose-leaf tea?  You might be surprised to learn that loose leaf tea actually offers lots of benefits over its pre-bagged cousin.  Perhaps the most important difference is the quality of flavor.  Bagged teas contain broken (or even ground) tea leaves, which are usually the waste left over from sorting out the far superior whole leaves to be used in loose leaf tea.  Much of the leaves’ essential oils are lost in the breaking or grinding process used in producing bagged tea.  Whole tea leaves retain their essential oils far longer, resulting in a more true and robust flavor.  The bag itself can compromise the flavor of your tea, as well.  For the tea leaves to properly steep and fully develop their flavor, they must have enough room for water to circulate through them.  The small, flat design of most tea bags restricts water flow, thus limiting the steeping process (and your enjoyment of your tea!).  As an added bonus, buying your tea loose allows you to experiment with different blends and discover the flavor combinations that perfectly suit your taste.

If better flavor isn’t enough to inspire you to switch to loose leaf tea, maybe the nutritional benefits will.  Ounce for ounce, it’s hard to find another natural beverage that packs a more powerful nutritional punch than a cup of brewed, loose leaf tea.  The essential oils are the key here, too; it’s these oils that contain the natural chemical compounds which are so beneficial.  Loose leaf tea isn’t just good for your body, either.  It’s also healthier for your wallet.  When you buy your tea pre-bagged, you’re buying a lot of packaging.  There’s the tin or cardboard container, some kind of inner lining to keep the tea fresh during shipping (which is funny, considering the tea inside isn’t really that fresh to begin with), and of course, the tea bags themselves.  Loose leaf tea is much more economical.  Less cost, less waste, better flavor, and greater health benefits:  loose leaf is the clear choice for a great cup of tea.

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Tea Talk

What Is The Difference Between Tea In The Bag And Loose Leaf Tea

by Kirill Hmir 23. August 2011 21:27

While we all find ourselves cornered by stresses of daily life, we do find time to enjoy subtle little pleasures, and that’s how you find yourself at the loose leaf tea blog. However, you ask yourself what’s the big difference between tea in the bag and loose teas; while both have their drawbacks they both have their benefits. The difference is convenience and tasteful experience.


When it comes to drinking tea, it is important to keep in mind that tea bags are recent invention compared to tea itself. While teabags went commercially around 1904, tea became a common drink during Qin Dynasty (around 200 BC). However, both teabags and tea have evolved since their origin.


Teabags


Teabags main advantage is their convenience compared to the loose leaf tea; the brewing, clean-up, and storage are all the highlights of teabags. And with today’s innovations teabags are made of different materials and come in different shapes allowing different properties to the brewing process. The reason for improvement in the design is due to flaws that teabags bring to the table and that is: due to size of the teabag only lower grade teas can be packed in them, flavor cannot flow evenly, and overall benefits of the loose leaf tea are lost in the tightly packed confines of a teabag.


Loose leaf teas


As the name suggests loose leaf tea has no confines. It gives the entire flavor of the tea leaf into the cup of delicious tea you are brewing. Loose leaf tea at this point is a tradition, and the flavor it brings to the table is unparalleled. While the tending to loose leaf tea might be seem difficult, it is what preserves its flavor and health benefits. It is important to understand that the loose leaf tea is minimally processed and preserves stronger/better aroma and taste unlike its tea bag counterpart.

Conclusion


While it might seem tough to decide between teabag and loose leaf teas, it is no brainer if you really want to submerge yourself in the world of teas; loose leaf teas all the way. While brewing process might expose few hurdles, it also allows greater control over quantity, aroma, color, and taste of the tea. Lastly today’s innovation make drinking loose leaf tea much easier than you might think there are plenty of devices such as Magic Tea Filter, and many others that allow you the benefit of loose leaf tea with easy clean up.

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Tea Talk

Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Tea

by ESP Tea Lover 23. August 2011 08:30

When it comes to tea preparation, this process is as important as the tea being brewed; you do not want to find yourself buying batch of premium teas and not enjoying a full potential of the tea.  The beauty of loose leaf tea is that it is such a delicate substance that in order to unlock all of its flavors you need to be methodical about the brewing process. Like everything amazing, a great cup of tea begins with the best ingredients: your favorite tea, right temperature and time it needs to be brewed in, and something most might overlook, water. After all, every cup of tea is composed primarily of water so it is imperative to use the right kind of water to steep your favor cup of green tea, black tea, herbal tea or many others.

 Alright, so I preached the importance of every ingredient involved in the preparation of your favorite cup of tea, and water is the topic of our discussion. Before you worry about how difficult or special the water might have to be for your tea, I want you to take a sip or two of chamomile herb tea (it tastes best with hint of dandelion honey), please stick with me. These days we are surrounded with an immense variety of aqua, from its origin to pH levels and calcium levels; all this fine and dandy but when paired with spoonful of Silver Needles white tea, you do not want to make any mistakes.

So before you put that kettle on the stove make sure of few key steps to prevent from making your tea dull and flavorless. Firstly, make sure you are using the purest water available to you, it might sound silly but many different location have different quality coming out of its tap; if you are not 100% confident that your tap water is best then I would advise to use filtration system, and you do not need to install an enormous water purifier or buy dozen of gallons of filtered water, instead use a simple water filter that eliminates the chlorine, salt, calcium, and any other heavy particles in water; essentially you are trying to make your water as “soft” as possible. While boiling water helps for all those heavy minerals and particles to descend it does not eliminate them. So what is the ideal water for brewing tea? Well, most experts agree that spring water, because of its purity, freshness, and high oxygen level. However, it might be difficult to find your local well or natural spring source in the middle of NYC. So why not give all those bottled waters a try, right? Yes and no, many of the bottled waters might have minerals added to them, or in case of distilled water it's so purified that is considered dead water.

So to wrap this up, be cautious what you prepare your tea with, and if you looking for a safe bet and you can’t get your hands on natural spring water, then use your tap water just make sure to filter out all heavy minerals and others additives that are in it.

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Tea Talk

Inevitability of Fall

by Elena Popec 15. October 2010 16:11

The most fascinating events in nature occur at the junction of the seasons. Winter, spring, summer, autumn then winter again are beautiful. But in our climate, with its usual well-defined and fair duration of all seasons, each season can get us bored. In winter, we unbearably miss summer and short sleeves; in summer we experience nostalgia for calm and long winter evenings, the rhythm and content of which is mainly determined by snow and frost.

There are moments amazingly unique and exclusive despite its annual predictability because its predictability is not absolute. Everyone knows that one day in late fall or early winter the first snow will happen. But each time the first snow is a delightful surprise that makes us happy and brings childhood memories.

Fall is notifying us already about its approach by chilly foggy mornings, changing color trees...and spider webs that suddenly become visible in the rays of the rising sun. Yellow and red strands on the trees I love the most! They are outlined to let us know that one day soon Nature will turn our lives from summer to fall.

I wrote all this to the fact that fall is inevitable and there is only one way to take it favorably. Get some sweet Sherry or Benedictine, get fragrant black loose leaf tea (Darjeeling, Keemun or Yunnan fit perfectly), get a small wineglass, a cute tea cup, a cozy throw and a chair.

And one night, all of these items should be brought into action. Fireplace is lit up, tea is brewed wineglass is full. And then you need to sit in a chair, wrapped in the throw, drink tea and whatever in the wineglass, enjoy  the beauty of a fireplace excepting the fact that fall is here, winter is next ...and smile.

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Tea Talk

Drinking tea is not just an ordinary beverage... Part 2

by Elena Popec 14. September 2010 12:19

Tea for breakfast. The concept of this tea is very simple. The morning tea will invigorate and contribute to the early awakening, this quite simple function uniquely determines its properties. It must be strong, energizing, have a rich taste (aroma can be neglected this time) and well combined with sugar, milk, lemon and a variety of the breakfast choices. Small leaf teas and blends posses these qualities.

Ceylon, Kenyan, small leaf Assam, almost any CTC teas and, of course, various blends can be used for breakfast. To make your life easier, sellers of tea offer a large number of morning teas, in the names of which there is a word Breakfast. All these teas are perfectly fulfilling the function of a beverage for breakfast. Without thinking, I can recall the following : English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Russian samovar, Irish morning ...

So, equipping your tea collection with the morning element can simply be done by buying any strong tea you like. If you want to show some independence and to go beyond the framework outlined by sellers, then as a tea for breakfast chose Ceylon and Indian Assam teas. This, however, I already wrote. Indian Darjeeling and Chinese teas, as well as blends, prepared on their basis, perhaps, is not a good idea to use as a breakfast choice.

There is another option of tea for breakfast, which is actively used by your obedient author. This choice has been made due to three reasons. First, my traditional morning sandwich (toast with butter, melted cheese and pate) does not require anything special. Secondly, in the morning I drink tea with sugar and lemon (sugar for the energy, and lemon is a great source of vitamins). These additives will make any tea taste quite the same. Third, when half-awake, I particularly do not discern any smell or taste. So, on my tea shelf I keep a jar on which "Crazy Breakfast" is written and in which I pour the remains of black CTC teas and broken leaves. And this is often a mixture I made myself and love the most as an improvisation for starting a new day with new expectations.

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Tea Talk

Drinking tea is not just an ordinary beverage... Part 1

by Elena Popec 13. September 2010 11:47

If in your personal life or in your career tea is something more than just a drink to flush down a sandwich, then sooner or later on your tea shelf will be not one, but several kinds of this blessed drink.

Then you will wonder what exactly tea should be in your permanent tea repertoire.

When compiling the individual tea sets there are two possible approaches by type and by function. In the first case, a tea set is made up of specific varieties of tea, in the second set all teas are selected based on the functions they must perform. The second campaign seems to me more sensible, as a more versatile and flexible. At the end, a tea set can be regarded as a set of specific varieties of tea, perform the general functions. These functions I would like to describe in more details, supplying the description with the recommendations of specific varieties. Enough, lets get started...

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Tea Talk

Green Tea for enthusiasts of exquisite feelings

by Elena Popec 3. September 2010 10:00

"Tea is our everything."
(Confucius, in a private conversation).

If we collect the leaves from bushes or trees of Camellia Sinensis and dry them (in the sun, in the shade, on a hot stone...), we'll get green tea. There are thousands of ways to collect, roll, dry, wither but the essence of the result remains the same - green tea. One has to spend a whole life away from civilization in order not to be aware of the beneficial properties of green tea, tons of material written about it. But green tea also has a delightful personality and deep meaning. Tea means harmony, calm, etiquette, and optimism.
 
Green tea is like a beautiful woman, it is lighter, softer, deeper, more mysterious than black tea, which is dark, astringent, tart and explodes with all its force in the first brew, like Cassius Clay in the first round. The aroma of green tea is delicate, long-lasting, unfolding carefully, deeply in multiple brews.

Green tea is not only a drink, but also a pleasantly fragrant atmosphere throughout the tea drinking ceremony. Try to rinse dry green tea leaves with hot water. Just a minute later, when the tea will absorb moisture and begin to exude the fragrance ... inhale it. Whoever has not tried this before, will find this experience unforgettable! There are aesthetes who claim that this knowledge is very important to human development.

Women naturally love and appreciate a gallery of scents more than men, therefore they fall in love with green tea indefinitely for its delightful fragrance. Green tea is exquisite, do not expect overwhelming taste, penetrating into the charms of green tea takes time. Do not be surprised if soon after your acquaintance with green tea, you'll notice that you eat less greasy foods or smoke less - green tea refines the taste, exacerbates it, opens a door to a healthy lifestyle.

To steep a perfect brew, in addition to the delightful kingdom of the aroma, always use good quality water of with the correct temperature.Never use boiling water, delicate green teas unfold the best in temp of 176 F. It will take 2 to 3 minutes to brew an excellent cup of green tea. The second brew is a copy of the first! Don't rush, green tea does not tolerate fuss. And so, gradually making the water a little hotter, and steeping time a little longer, so green tea can be brewed a several times, each time its taste and flavor will change and deepen ...

Do not oversteep green tea, its color should never be darker than the light golden, with a slight green tint. The best way to serve green tea is in white bone china or porcelain, where the shades of its color are emphasized, or celadon, which is "native" to green tea and where green tea looks exceptionally beautiful.

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Tea Talk

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