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How to Make the Perfect Pot of Tea

I’m known for many things: my love of all things fluffy, especially bunny rabbits; my innate ability to always give too much information; and for making a badass pot of tea.

Ever get somewhat nauseous after a cup of tea? That’s because it was brewed too long. Tea should be smooth, drinkable, flavorful, and I’ll show you–in just a few steps–how to make a perfect pot of tea.

First, the kind of tea:

airtight container holding green tea

(Photo: airtight container holding green tea; calico cat in the corner of the photo.)

My favorite type of tea is green tea, specifically Japanese Sencha or Bancha. (Sencha is more common and can be found at any looseleaf tea store. But be wary! It can be overpriced at places like Teavana or Argo. I generally find the best prices at health food stores or where tea, coffee, and/or spices are sold in bulk. I get mine at Porto Rico, a little store in NYC, but they also have an online store.) What’s great about this tea is that it’s a deep, grassy green, and that earthiness translates into the flavor. This is the sort of tea that you would get at a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant during the cold months. Green tea, in my opinion, is the most versatile tea–I could drink it morning, noon, afternoon, early evening, with dinner, or before bed. Kitten concurs.  Additionally, no milk and sugar necessary! Not to mention all the added health benefits of green tea.

Second, how much tea:

ceramic teapot on a metal tea tray with a small pile of green tea

(Photo: ceramic teapot on a metal tea tray with a small pile of green tea.)

For a pot of tea, which comes out to about 2 ½ mugs, you’ll want 2 ½ tablespoons. (If you have a nifty little “tea scoop” tool, it’s three scoops.)  As you can see in the picture, it doesn’t look like much, but once you put water over it, it’ll get nice and plump. Place the tea in the strainer that comes with most teapots so that, when it’s done brewing, you can just pull out the strainer to discard the tea. (If you’re all like “strainer?! wtf,” the strainer is in the next picture.)

Third, brewing the tea:

Once your water is boiling, pour it over the tea and let it brew for NO LONGER THAN TWO MINUTES. Frankly, I set a timer for two minutes EVERY TIME, but try to pull it out at about 1 min and 45 seconds. Seriously, this is the key. Over-brewing RUINS teas. It’s why I’m too snobby to buy tea “out.”

used tea in strainer has been pulled from the teapot

(Photo: used tea in strainer has been pulled from the teapot.)

Note: If you want stronger tea, don’t brew it longer, just use more tea. Even an extra half spoonful will increase the boldness of the flavors. Brewing it too long can give it a bitter taste, which can hurt your tum-tum.

Four, how to drink it:

Put it in a mug, preferably one with witty sayings or adorable pictures, gather your friends ’round (or your cat), or find solitude in a nice comfy chair in a quiet corner. Sip, and enjoy!

adorable Calico cat clearly annoyed that she’s not the center of the photo shoot. Behind her, a tea tray with a pot of tea and mug, and an airtight container with tea

(Photo: adorable Calico cat clearly annoyed that she’s not the center of the photo shoot. Behind her, a tea tray with a pot of tea and mug, and an airtight container with tea.)

By philososaurus

Raised on the farmlands of the Midwest, this gluten-free, feminist bunny took New York City by storm earning an MA in Philosophy. She’s currently encroaching on the normative territories in Chicago, spending time jamming the Discursive machines of ‘health’ and ‘illness,' and relaxing with her animal companions: Pfeffer, Yoshi, and Mr(ish) 'Saurus, her human-animal partner.

41 replies on “How to Make the Perfect Pot of Tea”

Thank you for this! I have always wanted to know about this!

“If you want stronger tea, don’t brew it longer, just use more tea.” I HAD NO IDEA.

I would like to drink more tea and less alcohol. I think drinking tea out of a pretty teacup would be a good substitute for a glass of wine…I would still feel a. fancy and b. comforted, the way I feel with wine.

TOTALLY.

It’s my secret =) I’m on pretty constant antibiotics and, as every dr has ever told you, you shouldnt drink when you’re on them. So in the same way that a lot of people come home and have a beer, I come home and get out my nice pretty tray and my sentimental tea pot and brew a mean pot of tea. Sometimes I pick up my nice, big, “smarty pants” mugs (pictured), others I go for my dainty collection with the saucers and all!

Is there anyone here who loves the old-school milk-and-sugar teas? My parents are both from India, and they drink a lot of tea. Like three times a day. And the only kind of tea we drink is with milk and sugar/sugar substitute. I actually love that way best but everyone else thinks it’s kinda weird. I mean, they’re like, “woah, you drink tea differently!” So how do most Americans drink their tea, then?

I know it isn’t Earl Grey, but Sri Lankan Ceylon tea is an excellent black tea and I firmly believe that if you like Earl Grey, you’ll love Ceylon! You should be able to even get it at a normal grocery store in the tea section. Since you think it’s the bergamot, I won’t suggest Lady Grey, which just has more of it, and it is, I think even tastier than the Earl :)

yummy tea. my hubby is big into tea (like WAY big into tea, green & white especially).

tips i have learned from him: you don’t need to bring water to boiling for green & white tea as this can burn the leaves, pour it over our tea just before it hits the boiling point. steeping time can sometimes depend on how finely “ground” the tea is (finer tea- less steeping). and yes over-steeped tea tastes terribad. and re-steeping (good quality) tea is your friend- green tea can be re-steeped 2-3 times, even upwards to 4 or 5 for really high quality tea. i generally don’t re-steep black tea as i think it tastes terribly weak after the first brew.

enjoy!

I am a tea-lover. At first, I started drinking it because I don’t drink coffee. I can’t handle the caffeine, plus  I don’t like the taste. I noticed early on in my career that if I said no to a cup of coffee, people would either assume I didn’t want to talk to them, or brand me as immature/not enough of a teacher-stereotype to teach. My solution to this was to get into tea. I am now a bit of an aficionado.

I have clear favorites. When it comes to black tea, I’m partial to Lady Gray. For green tea, I like my green tea with either lemon or mint. Both types make me feel as if I’m drinking a cup of prescribed wellness, except unlike most medicines, these go down easily.

Other favorites include peppermint tea, which helps with digestion and supposedly has a calming effect. Just make sure to never give me red tea. I’d rather drink a whole pot of coffee before I have a cup of rooibos.

On the whole, Philosophaurus is right, tea should not be brewed for too long. It’s also important to note that while black tea should me made at around boiling temperature, green tea can be made at a significantly lower temperature (75-80 celcius)

 

 

Seconded on temp.

I like black teas too, but I normally don’t get them loose leaf the way I do green. I am a stick-ler, as I’m sure can be seen, for my green teas though. I’ll do without until I can find it on the loose leaf.

I like coffee, too, but it doesn’t always sit right. Tea ALWAYS does the trick.

And I totally know what you mean about not talking/not being a coffee drinker. It’s definitely a culture in graduate school. Interestingly, I most relate with regard to beer. I have a gluten-allergy so I say no to the beer, and I’m not always in the mood for liquor so I go out and just don’t dirnk. And every. time. I have to explain why.

Thanks for the green tea info!  I’m rubbish at green tea, although I love it–I always end up making it too bitter.  Now I know what to do :-)

Now black tea, black tea I know.  As an ex-ex-pat just returned from three years in old Blighty, I’m obnoxiously picky about my cuppa.  Milk, only please (My boorish mother insists on cream.  Cream?!  Cream.), no sugar.  Sugar is for children (nose now firmly pointed in the air).  Tea bag first, then water fresh off the boil.  You can warm the pot/cup first–I admit to being a bit naughty and typically foregoing this step.  PG tips, of course, although Earl Grey is great for the afternoon, especially with a bit of cake or a biscuit.  And for heaven’s sake don’t brew too long!  Americans always brew too long.

And now I really, really miss England.  Today’s rainy day in SoCal doesn’t help.

I’d be a bigger black tea fan if I could not fuck up the milk and sugar part EVERY TIME. Also, I don’t keep milk around too frequently and I’m sort of no-sugar. STILL. I know what you mean about few things comparable to the perfectly made (and mixed!) black tea.

I’m currently FEELING a memory, some distant long-off time that I can no longer recall, in which I had the best tea and became mini-obsessed with black tea in the way you described…. alas, I can’t recall it, which leads me to conclude it was a past life on a rainy day in London town.

I’m not entirely sure I believe this can apply to every tea. I mean, what about teas that contain no tea leaves at all? I really enjoy peppermint “teas”; would this work in that case?

I’ve, for example, gone out to this one Japanese tea house that specifically advised drinking the tea in different stages (it’s been awhile since I last was there so bare with my inaccuracies). I mean, they poured the tea through once and let it sit for a time and repeated the process every few minutes. It was sort of like a tea tasting journey.

I’m just… This article flies in the face of everything I know about tea! I’m reluctant to believe you. But tell you what. I will test this tonight (unfortunately, my parents only have tea bags in the house) by making two separate things of tea and then asking my dad to pour them into two different mugs without me knowing which goes where. I shall report back with my findings.  Impromptu testing away!

And can you write a post about why people enjoy fermented/Pu’er teas? I think they smell like cigarette water and mold so I cannot for the life of me see the appeal.

I can’t wait to hear about your test! In what way does it fly in the face of?

Certainly the brewing time is specific to green tea. Other teas can go a little longer, but what I wanted to do was to give one very particular detailed instruction and I chose green tea because 1) its the best ;) and 2) because it tends to be the most fickle.

I love peppermint tea, too. Still, it can be susceptible to over brewing, which is ultimately my point: think you don’t like teas? do they give you a bit of a tummy ache? You’re overbrewing! =)

All right. I will concede defeat in the tea blind taste-test challenge. So I used a store brand jasmine green tea (I know, I know, but the selection is a tad limited this far up north) which I had never tasted before so as to eliminate any expectations for the taste. I used two identical ceramic mugs, one of which had a dot drawn on the bottom to signify the over-steeped tea. One of the teas brewed for 2 minutes and the other for about five or so (approximately the same amount of tea I would normally leave the tea brewing).

Holy crap. Such a difference. The shorter brewing time made for a much less bitter, tangy tea. It was really much nicer. I didn’t even know which cup was which, but after a first taste (with washing my mouth out with water in between), the winner was clearly the two minute tea.

I will never doubt again. Thanks for enlightening me.

There are several styles of Japanese and Chinese tea ceremony that emphasize short repeated steepings;  most good teahouses serve oolong teas this way. You’re given a small pot stuffed with leaves and a pot of water and the idea is to a series of very short infusions (a few seconds) that get longer as the leaves open up. By the time you’re on your 15th steep, you’ve experienced the whole taste spectrum of that particular tea…a really lovely, contemplative way to spend an hour or so.

As for puerh, that stuff is goood! I definitely see the mold potential, but there are so many crazy flavors and rich earthiness in a good puerh that drinking one is never boring. Plus, you can’t oversteep ’em, and you can re-steep them multiple times, so puerh is a good option for the I-forget-to-set-the-timer and the frugal. I spent years as a tea and coffee educator and always put a puerh at the tail end of my introductory tea tastings–almost without fail it was the cup that blew everyone’s mind (“that’s TEA?!”). I love puerh :)

Can you recommend any good puerh then? Because the three varieties that my friend encouraged me to taste where all pretty darn rank in taste. I must just not be looking in the right places.

And I gotta say, that’s a pretty cool job you had going there.

Thanks for sharing.

I am a black tea drinker all the way and always make my tea in a pot, though I always warm the pot before the tea, and my rule of thumb for the leaves is one for the pot, and one for each cup you’re making from the pot.

My secret source for good, affordable black tea is the Indian grocery, though you have to ask them for the full leaf and not the ones that have been ground.

One of the reasons I don’t like green tea that much is because I love, love, love adding milk to my tea (and green tea just isn’t tasty with milk). It just makes me happy.

Man, I just remembered to note that I ALSO have a REALLY EFFIN fantastic black tea. I can’t believe I forgot! It’s a Turkish tea that I got in Istanbul and it’s to die for. Also really sensitive to overbrewing (but nothing like green tea), but gawwwwd its soooo smooth.

 

Ok, I think I need some.

Ah! Thanks for this, I’m terrible at brewing tea.  I can brew one mean pot of coffee, but tea is something I need to work on….And by work on, I mean I usually just leave my tea bag in my mug and keep pouring hot water over it…

Will add this to my mental list of things to improve.

I made the BEST. Pot. of Coffee. EVER. but only one time and I’ve never been able to get even close to it since. =)

I use good coffee, so I can’t fuck it up too bad, but I know that if I could ever remember how many scoops to put in my french press, I could be amazing.

TOTALLY. REcently there was a post on taking 5 minutes for oneself each morning. This is how that started for me. I used to grind and slowly brew my own coffee and just sit, read, or plan my day (but only if it wasnt anxiety producing) every day. Now it’s a twee bit more on the go/with breakfast/with purpose, but even when I’m “in a rush” it slows me down. Love it.

I didn’t even know you could get nauseous because the tea brewed too long. Maybe I didn’t like some of the teas I’ve tried because of that…

I LOVE green tea. When I had more disposable money, I would spend about a hundred bucks a year or so on boxes and boxes of it from this site: http://www.choiceorganicteas.com/ It’s organic, and a lot of their teas are free trade.

Downsides are that a lot of their tea isn’t loose leaf and it’s pretty pricey sometimes. People who are bigger tea connoisseurs might know if they’re overpriced or not (it probably is), I haven’t really branched out to find good quality affordable teas yet.

My favorite one was genmaicha, and I notice that the Puerto Rico store sells some. Hmmm…might have to buy…immediately…

Genmaicha is also super good. Have you tried Chinese gunpowder? Anytime I’m in for a change, I like it. It still brews grassy, but there’s something… different abotu it. It’s not fresh on my palate so its hard to recall.

I’ll look into this site for my next buy! I like packaged teas, too. Esp because I want some variety, but not ALL in loose leaf. Thanks for the heads up =)

From one tea lover to another: thanks! I was, in the past, guilty of brewing too long to get a stronger flavor. I was really confused when my logic didn’t work out! I really do think timing is key; I’ve lost far too many cups of tea to time! I’m easily distracted, and by the time I get back to what I was doing, my tea has gone bad. The timer is a great idea, if I can remember to set it!

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