The health benefits of drinking tea are well documented and as we introduce more into our diet it is truly important to brew it properly for full enjoyment. I have been told by a British friend that "Canadians don't know how to brew a respectable cup of tea, they use lukewarm water and wave a tea bag at it and wonder why it has no flavour!" How long you steep is also critical to the brew, over steeping will result in a bitter less palatable beverage.
This page is designed to make some helpful suggestions to ensure that you enjoy a flavourful, fragrant and properly brewed cup of tea.
General Brewing Instructions:
Purchase the best quality tea to fit your budget. If you wish to truly enjoy a cup of tea always purchase the freshest and best quality tea that is within your budget. Shop around for quality loose leaf tea, prices can vary greatly for the same or similar product. Watch for flat rate shipping promos, many times the price of the tea is higher to absorb the discounts. Fair Trade teas which are certified by reputable organizations are assuring that the farmer and workers are receiving fair compensation, there is a price to pay for a better world.
Tea bags in stores are often made from inferior teas or from older product and are packaged underweight. Tea bag products are more expensive than loose varieties and need to have the proper amount per bag to assure a proper brew. Organic loose leaf tea will always taste better, fresher and not be adulterated by flavours in the tea bag itself or added sanitizing chemicals.
- The quality of the water used greatly effects tea quality. Always start with fresh cold water in your kettle. Whether you are using loose leaf or tea bags the water is the second most important ingredient. Off tastes in your water such as chlorine, iron or sulfur will overpower delicate teas and effect the smell and taste. Tap water is acceptable for most purposes but a truly great cup of tea begins with filtered water or spring water. Never use distilled water or previously boiled water as it does not contain enough oxygen and will detrimentally effect the tea quality.
- Prepare your vessels. Ensure that you heat your cup or put boiling water to warm the teapot prior to brewing. A cold vessel will rob heat from the brew.
- Boil the water. With the exception of some delicate herbs like Lavender all teas require boiling water to brew a proper cup.
- Slowly and carefully pour the boiled water through the tea bag(s) or infuser. This step will produce the most flavourful cup of tea. If you prefer your tea warm make the tea and allow it to cool to your preference. Making tea with warm water produces an extremely weak and inferior brew.
- Follow the tea packaging for brewing instructions. The length of time the variety needs to be steeped should be found on the packaging. Over-steeping, especially in the case of green teas will result in a bitter brew. If your personal palate is to a stronger brew add more tea and steep for the proper length of time. Take a moment to review included preparation instructions. In our experience the following teas that we offer can tolerate longer steeping times without becoming bitter: Ceylon Black, English Breakfast Black, White Peony Green and all of the Red Teas.
- Use a tea cozy to keep the teapot warm while brewing and between pourings. Not very elegant but an oven mitt underneath the teapot and a large tea towel wrapped around makes a good substitute as well.
- Add milk & sugar or honey or soy milk ... at this stage. Do not add anything to the cup besides the tea bag or tea and infuser at time of brewing. It cools off the boiling water and will effect proper steeping.
- Savour your brew! Breathe in the wonderful fresh aroma, don't rush it, sip and enjoy. Drinking tea in this fashion is very relaxing and helps one to clear their mind. The art of tea drinking is a meditative experience and a happy distraction to your busy day.