By Claire Hou
Why is it that the tea you make at home tastes different than what you get at a coffee shop? The answer lies in the deceptively simple process of brewing tea– it seems like merely pouring hot water onto tea leaves, but the temperature of the water, type of water, type of tea, steep time, even the type of teapot you use are all factors that can alter taste.
1. Use the right water
The majority of tea, or “hot leaf juice” is made up of water, so the type of water is important. Try to use clean, cold filtered water, as distilled water may lead to a flatter taste. Additionally, try to use fresh water, ie water that has not been boiled already before.
2. Have the correct temperature
Make sure to keep an eye on your water while it’s boiling, and don’t overdo it. Different tea leaves are also best suited to different temperatures of water; this part of brewing tea is often neglected, as you would need a thermometer for reference, but for the real tea connoisseurs out there, don’t forget to check the temperature!
3. Don't over or under-steep
In order to bring all the flavor out of your tea, the steep time must be on point. Teas are forgiving, and sometimes steep time can vary due to personal preference. Some may prefer it strong and bitter, others a lighter aroma. Here is an extremely helpful website that detail the recommended steep time and temperature for a variety of different teas: https://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/non-alcoholic/article/tea-steeping-guide
4. Pay attention to the tools you use
For the traditional Chinese method of brewing tea, a kettle and teapot are necessities. Cast-iron pots are popular and easy to use, but one thing to note is that they tend to take on the flavor of the tea leaves used over time. To get the purest, most authentic flavor possible out of your tea, use these pots with a single tea variety.
5. Just some tea taboos
Don’t throw away your tea leaves after a single steep! Tea is resilient, and can last multiple steeps, and in each steep there will be a subtle (or not so subtle) difference in taste.
And I hope this goes without saying: don’t microwave your tea! That’s disgusting.