To brew, or infuse, a perfect cup of tea is not difficult. Follow these basic steps and you will be able to enjoy a fine cup of tea in your home or at your workplace.
Black Tea: Rinse the vessel (cup or teapot) with warm water to remove the chill from the surface and ensure that when the water for brewing is poured, the heat is not diminished by the cold cup or pot. Measure one teaspoon of whole-leaf tea per 8-10 ounce cup and place into a tea infuser, paper tea sack or other strainer. Simply multiply this quantity of tea for larger cups or teapots. Heat freshly poured cold water. Of course, filtered water is best as additional mineral flavors and impurities are removed but make sure that the water is freshly poured and cold. Bring the water to a full rolling boil and pour over the tea leaves. Using a timer, infuse the leaves for 3 minutes unless you are certain that you would like the tea infused for more or less time. Remove the leaves from the cup or teapot and enjoy your great cup of tea!
Green Tea: Begin by heating the cup and measuring the tea as above. For green tea, a cooler temperature is required for brewing to avoid burning the leaves which will cause an undesirable bitter or astringent flavor. Use a kettle that has a temperature setting and set the dial for somewhere from 165 to 185 degrees. If you do not have a temperature gauge, simply boil the water, switch off the heat and let the water cool down for about 2 minutes. Pour over the tea leaves and infuse for 2-3 minutes. Brewing green tea for too long will also cause a bitter flavor so make sure you use a timer. Remove the tea leaves and enjoy a beautiful cup of green tea! Green tea leaves may be re-infused.
White Tea: Follow the same instructions as for green tea and set the timer for 3-5 minutes.
Oolong Tea: Follow the same preparation as for black tea but brewing time may be increased if desired. Oolong teas may be re-infused several times and, in fact, seem to change remarkably with each subsequent infusion.
Herbals and Tisanes: There is more flexibility when infusing herbals as there is less tendency for them to become bitter or too strong. Measure the leaves as above. Rooibos and other leafy blends should be brewed using cooler water at about 185 degrees and may be steeped for anywhere from 3-5 minutes, depending on your preference.
A note about additions to your brew: It is customary in many countries to use milk, cream, lemon, sugar, honey, sugar substitutes or other additions to a cup of tea. There is not one correct way to consume tea and while the best way to taste the leaves is without any additional ingredients, personal preference alone should be your guide when it comes to adding sweetener or milk to your tea!