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

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!

What Are The Largest Tea Producing Countries In The World?

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?

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.

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

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.

Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Tea

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.