5 steps to better loose leaf tea: by that, we mean a better cup of tea for you. Everyone likes their tea slightly different and one of the joys of loose leaf tea is that there are endless possibilities! Often people think loose leaf tea is complicated but so long as you follow a few simple guidelines you can’t go far wrong.
Let’s face it, your tea is flavoured water. If you don’t start with good water, you won’t get good tea! Use freshly drawn or filtered tap water where possible. Some may say that spring water is ideal but these days we have to consider the environmental impact of our daily cuppa. Mineral water is too hard and will leave a metallic taste in your brew. Distilled water is too soft and will leave your tea flat. You are looking for a PH of 7. If you need to filter your water it is best to use freshly filtered water that has not been standing around. Do not use water that you have reboiled. Please do not microwave your water, this removes all the oxygen from the water and will leave you a very flat-tasting brew.
Different teas require different temperature water. If you are new to drinking loose leaf tea, or just new to that type of tea, a good place to start is the instructions on the packet. We include a simple amount/temp/time infographic on all of our teas. You can then experiment until you get it right for you! If in doubt, use cooler water, many teas can be damaged by water that is too hot, but few are hurt by the water being a few degrees too cold (I can feel my grandmother staring at me).
Boiling water and letting it cool will dramatically reduce the amount of oxygen in the water and affect the taste of the tea. Where possible take the water temperature up to, not down to. We have temperature adjustable kettles here, which can be bought cheaply from Amazon. Why is this so important? If you put boiling water on sencha it will taste bitter and horrible, no matter how good the tea was.
3. Use great quality ingredients
Make sure you are investing in quality loose leaf teas and tisanes, like ours! Make sure those teas are stored well: away from heat, light, moisture and strong smells. Make sure they are still fresh, kept is a sealed airtight container most tea is good for 2 years, although matcha only has 3 months. Experiment with how much tea you need to add to make your perfect cup. The general rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon to one cup. If you like strong tea or you are making iced tea you will need to add more leaves. Again a good place to start is the instructions on the packet.
4. Successful steeping
Tea leaves will expand when made wet. They need space to move around, this enables the flavours and health benefits to infuse into the water. Make sure you are using an infuser or teapot that allows tea to swell and move. Start with the low end of the recommendations on the packet. If it says 2-4 min then take a sip of your tea after it has been brewing for 2 minutes. Then do a test sip every 30 seconds until you hit perfection.
You will discover lots of flavour nuances as you experiment with time and temperature, it is one of the joys of real tea. Remember to keep your leaves, you can make more than one cup per serving, and the second, or even third steeping will have different flavour spectrums. Golden rule: If you want stronger tea, add more leaves. Do not steep for longer, that will lead to bitterness!
5. Drink it naked!
Calm down, what we mean by that is….before you add your usual milk, sugar, honey or whatever you prefer, just take a sip. Does it really need it? If you have bought loose leaf tea from a reputable tea seller (like us!) it will have been painstakingly agonised over. Its flavour profile will have been designed to the very specific recommendations of the blender. The least you can do is give it a sip!
Once you have the basics handled you can begin to experiment, brew the greens a little longer, try the fruit tisanes with a cold brew, add milk and sugar to a flavoured black. After all, it is YOUR cup of tea and you should drink it however you like!