If you were to look, you’d find legends for nearly every variety of tea throughout the east. It’s been steamed and ground into powder, plucked and pan-fried, oxidized and aged deep inside caves. It was a beverage suitable for rulers and only after trade boomed did it start to spread far and wide until we come to where we are today.
Despite this vast history, tea is a relatively new fad this side of the world, and very few people know much about it. Studies are being done to show all the health benefits of green tea, pu-erh, and the like, but these are tidbits of knowledge that have many cultures smiling our way and saying, “we tried to tell you.”
There has been a small setback with this trend and that is, people want tea. You might be thinking, well that’s a good thing, isn’t it? I’d have to agree to an extent, but because the industry focuses so much on the benefits and so little on everything else, what can be an indulgent, potentially life-changing daily ritual, has many people pinching their noses and throwing it back like medicine.
Every type of tea has unique characteristics and qualities. The leaves can be picky, and to get it right there’s a bit of know-how that goes into it. I’m going to cover a few tricks to help make sure you can enjoy a near perfect pot of your favorite tea.
Green and White Tea
Green tea tends to be the most notorious for being bad, bitter tea and that’s usually because it can be the most finicky when it comes to brewing it. Green tea can be popularly categorized in two. On the one hand, we have Chinese green tea which is harvested, pan-fried and quickly dried to prevent oxidation. Then, there’s Japanese green tea which is harvested, steamed and quickly dried. Chinese green teas are often a bit sweeter and more fragrant while Japanese green teas tend to be a deeper green color and have a grassy taste.
One of my favorite green teas is our Snow Jasmine. It’s a sweet green tea that’s very fragrant and easy to brew. But the Starfruit green is one of our most popular summer drinks. We blend some tropical fruit in with a delicate Chinese green tea. It makes a refreshing and tantalizing cup.
To make the best cup of green tea, you want to make sure to use hot water that’s at most 170. A good way to tell this without a thermometer is to keep an eye on the bubbles forming at the bottom of the pot. If they’re small and a few are starting to zig-zag to the surface, that’s perfect.
You also want to keep an eye on the time it steeps for. Green tea is great for many infusions, but you only want to steep it for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
White tea, on the other hand, is primarily a Chinese tea. It tends to be sweeter and much more delicate than green tea. That’s because white tea is made from the soft, new buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant – the tea plant. It’s quickly pan fried to prevent oxidation and then dried. Because the leaves are so young it tends to be delicate and boiled water will scorch the dried leaves. For this reason, like green tea, you want to use water at about 170. Unlike green teas, many white teas won’t get overly bitter if left to steep for long periods of time.
One of our most popular white teas is our Pink Cherry Cider. We blend our silver needle with a collection of fruits to make a pot that’s subtly sweet all on its own.
Oolong tea tends to be the most complex flavor wise. It’s designed for multiple infusions, and for having a gradually maturing flavor as the infusions progress, and the leaves fully open. You can use fully-boiled water with this tea and steep it for about three minutes every time. Some have a tendency to get bitter, so keep an eye on it.
My favorite Oolong is our Buddha’s Favor, also known as Ti Kuan Yin. If you want to know the legend behind it, click the link here. But, by far the crowd favorite had been our Blackberry Oolong. We mix premium rolled oolong leaves with dried blackberries, elderberries and more to make a deep red elixir. It’s sweet and tangy and fantastic iced.
Black teas are typically very strong and dark teas. The leaves have been fully oxidized after harvesting which gives the leaves their dark color and flavor. You can use boiled water but only steep it for two minutes. Some black teas can get very bitter if over infused. Our Keemun is a traditional Chinese black tea. If you want to learn more about it, you can read a little here. It’s a robust black tea with some nutty, chocolate notes and pairs wonderfully with warm milk and honey.
Pu-erh tea is one I consider to be right up there with herbal teas in terms of how easy it is to brew, especially if you like your tea as strong as I do. This is a fermented tea that actually came about by happy accident.
You can use fully-boiled water. Pu-erh is a dark tea without much of the bitterness and astringency of a black tea. Some can get bitter if left in the water too long, but I find a good quality of pu-erh will often get deeper and darker the longer it steeps. If you want more infusions out of it (and this tea can go for a long time,) then steep it for about four minutes before removing the leaves.
I prefer classic pu-erh blocks myself. I can’t resist the deep woodsy notes and the full mouth flavor. Our Strawberry Slim comes in at a close second. The strawberries give you a slash of summer flavor that’s mellowed out by the lingering effect of pu-erh tea.
Most people think boiled water when it comes to Herbal teas, but did you know some are prone to burning the same way a white tea would? When you have an herbal tea with lots of flowers it’s best to use under boiled water like with white or green tea. The good thing is, it’s difficult to make a bad cup of herbal tea. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavor.
A few more tricks for the road
One of the biggest downsides to tea bags and tea balls if the lack of room the leaves have to move around. Tea likes to breathe and it likes movement. You’ll get the best flavor by steeping your tea in a pot where it can move, and to stir the leaves around while it’s steeping.
For Iced tea, the trick is to make a tea concentrate first. You add a heaping tablespoon of leaves to the pot and steep it in about half the amount of water you normally would use before pouring it over a cup full of it. That way, when the ice melts, it’ll dilute the concentrate and give you a fully flavorful cup of refreshing iced tea.
If you have any questions about tea leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer! We sell our teas online too, just click this link here to visit our website and check it out.