The Art & Science of Brewing Tea

“Simple guidelines for sipping satisfaction.”

START FRESH. The fresher the tea, the better the flavor. After opening a new box of tea, keep it tightly closed and away from air, light and moisture. We seal teabags into sandwich bags, and keep bags of loose tea tightly closed with document clips. Please try to use tea within six months of opening. After a year, it’s probably too stale to enjoy.

MEASURE WELL. Start with one teabag or one teaspoon for each cup. For whole leaf tea, use a heaping teaspoon; for loose tea in smaller bits, use a level teaspoon. Adjust to your taste. For a stronger cup, add more tea–not more time, or your brew will become bitter. For weaker tea, use less tea–not less time or you’ll get mostly caffeine (80% comes out in the first minute) and not much flavor (80% comes out in the last minute).

WATCH THE TIME. Black and herbal teas need boiling water to bring out the full flavor. Use freshly drawn cold water, heat to a rolling boil and pour right over the tea in a pre-warmed pot or mug. Cover, add a tea cozy, and set your timer for 5 minutes. Remove the tea when the timer dings and serve with confidence.

COOL IT FOR GREEN. For green and oolong teas, let the kettle cool for a minute or two before pouring on the tea. Don’t warm the pot or use a cozy–green tea is easily annoyed. Steep green teas for 2–3 minutes, oolong teas for 3–4 minutes. If the tea is bitter, the water was too hot or it was brewed too long. Start again.

TAKE A MOMENT. It doesn’t take long to make a perfectly satisfying cuppa, and the process of preparing it gives us a chance to stop, take care in the doing, and enjoy the quality of life. As Gandhi once said, “There’s more to life than increasing its speed.”