Speaking from experience: to someone who’s never dealt with tea outside of a teabag before, the brewing process might as well be hidden alchemical secrets.
Thankfully, preparing loose-leaf tea can be surprisingly simple with the right tools and some basic information. There are some nuances to the perfect cup of tea, and they can absolutely make the difference, but the basics are the same: Boil Water. Pour Water Over Tea. Remove Tea. Drink. Profit.
Boil the water.
Seriously, this one isn’t rocket science. A simple kettle on the stove or a boiler will do the trick nicely. If you’re working with the Hot Water Toggle of a water cooler at work, that’ll do in a pinch.
We’ve been there… we understand.
Step Two: Prep the Tea in its Cup
Add a teaspoon of loose leaf to your infuser, strainer, or medium of choice – that’s all you really need per cup. Use less if you’re working with a dense or tightly rolled tea, and use a bit more if we’re talking a very loose or large leaf tea. If we’re going all out with a teapot, figure out how many cups worth of tea it can hold, and up the amount of loose leaf you’re adding respectively.
Step Three: Add the Water to the Cup
Pour the boiling water on the prepped tea. Bam, easy! Sure, different teas prefer different water temperatures (we’ll get into that)… techy water boilers and thermometers help make this magic happen. For those who really just want a hot-cup-right-now-please, try this: “bring the pot to the kettle” for black, dark oolong, and herbal teas (TRANSLATION: pour the water right off the boil), and “bring the kettle to the pot” for green teas (TRANSLATION: keep the pot off the boil for a few minutes; 3 minutes does it for us, mileage may vary).
Step Three: Walk Away and Let It Steep
But… why?! It looks so lonely over there! No amount of poking, prodding, squishing, or prodding is going to make this tea steep any faster. Heck, it might make it bitter instead. Just let your baby take a nap for a while. Four to five minutes for black teas, two to three minutes for greens, and somewhere in the middle for most oolongs. Longer equals stronger, but you risk bitterness if you stray too far over the five minute mark.
Step Four: Remove the Tea Leaves
Remove your infuser or other tea-medium from your cuppa.
And just like that, you have a cup of tea!
For our next trick, we’ll be covering the nitty gritty of “the perfect cup.” Check back soon!