Even though the world of tea and tea ritual can be complex, it’s easy to make an excellent cup of tea with a little information and a few basic tools. In this post, I’ll break down a few of the different varieties and how to prepare each one. I’ll also share my favorite teas and equipment for brewing.
When I was younger, I worked at a cute tea shop called The Tea Lady. I adored opening that shop. Once the customers came, it was sometimes…a different story (Because: Retail). But opening was a joy. I would select 3 to 4 teas to prepare for the day, a black, a green, an herbal, and often an iced tea of any type. The gorgeous fragrance of those teas! The flavors! It was a wonderful way to start the day. Plus, most mornings I would nab a piece of the fresh baked pumpkin bread or some biscuits to have with my beverage. It felt warm and cozy.
We had over 400 different types of teas. It was a lot to keep straight and organized. Still, we basically prepared them in one of the three ways I’ll share below.
Ever since that time, I’ve always made space in my workday for a delicious, lovingly prepared cup of tea (actually, usually many cups). I’ve discussed how important I think breaks are throughout the day before. This workday tea ritual is an important break and self-care practice. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes to do.
Tea varieties are practically endless. I’m not going to get in too deep with all the different types today. We’re going to stick to 3 general types – Black, Green, and Herbal. Yes, these are very broad and I’d love to explore them in more detail at some point. Not to mention the types that don’t even fit into those three categories (Rooibos, white tea, pu erh, etc.) However, I believe that if you know the best way to prepare these three general categories, you’ll be able to make an excellent cup of tea 90% of the time.
- Kettle – electric or stovetop. I have used this one before (and I LOVED it). It heated the water quickly, looked nice, and since it is ceramic, you don’t have to worry about heating up plastic (which scares me for health reasons). The downsides? It’s a bit heavy and plus my husband cracked it when he knocked it into the side of the sink. So, now we use this one. It’s much lighter. It does have plastic on the outside, but the inside is all stainless steel. It gets the job done well.
- Strainer. Unless you’re using a teabag, you’ll need a strainer. I can’t stand tea balls and prefer a one that sits in your mug or teapot like this one. Also, this walrus strainer is so cute!
- You’ll want something, like a spoon rest or even just a cup, to put the strainer or tea bag in when you’re done to save for a second extraction (second brewing). This little kitty is sweet. But really, any little dish or cup will do, just make sure to have something ready.
- Mugs & teapots. Endless options here.
- Something to keep the time. A kitchen timer works if you’re busy, or just pay attention to your clock or watch.
- Tea! Some favorites. Black: Davidson’s chai, Harney & Sons lapsang souchong (super smoky), Harney & Sons Earl Grey Supreme. Green: Itoen’s Genmaicha, Teavana’s Dragonwell, and – this coconut pouchong gets a special mention. It’s somewhere in between green/oolong. It is AMAZING. Pricey, but worth every penny. Herbal: Davidson’s Chamomile, Peppermint, and Simpson & Vail’s Lavender Lace (so delicious if you like floral & spicy tea!). I love a good fruit tea as well, such as My Beauty Tea’s Mermaid Blend Fruit Tea .
Make the perfect cup of black tea.
- Start by boiling your water to a nice rolling boil, but don’t let it boil for too long. An electric kettle will shut off just as it begins to boil, which is perfect. If you’re using a stovetop, listen for the whistle.
- Prep your mug or teapot by pouring just a bit of hot water inside, swirl around, and dump the water down the sink. This warms it up and allows it to keep your tea hotter for longer.
- Pour your water over the tea (about a tablespoon of loose leaf tea per 8 ounces of water or one teabag per cup).
- Steep tea for 3 to 5 minutes.
Make the perfect cup of green tea.
- Start your kettle, but don’t let the water boil. You’ll get a sense with your kettle when it’s about to turn into a boil but hasn’t quite gotten there. That’s when you take it off the heat source. If you’ve let it boil, just let it cool for a minute or so before proceeding.
- Prep the mug or teapot in the same way you did for the black tea.
- Pour the water over the tea (same ratio, about a tablespoon of loose leaf per 8 ounces of water or one teabag per cup).
- Steep for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Save leaves for a second extraction. High-quality green tea really comes alive with second and even sometimes third extractions, assuming you didn’t burn or over brew the first one. Despite what you might think, when brewed appropriately a green tea’s second extraction doesn’t come out weaker. The flavors instead change, sometimes becoming more complex.
Make the perfect cup of herbal tea.
Just to get this out of the way and for some clarity, herbal tea is not technically tea. Herbal teas are technically “tisanes” since they aren’t made from the tea plant. Generally, (though not universally), these can take hotter water and the more time you let them brew, the more antioxidants or other medicinal benefits can be extracted.
- You’ll want to use boiling water.
- Prepare the pot or mug in the same way as the others. Though the ratio is roughly the same, it will be a little different depending on the weight of the tea. Some herbal teas, such as chamomile (at least to my taste) need a little more tea than water, like about 1 ½ tablespoons per 8 ounces. Other herbals, like peppermint, are pretty strong and you could use even a little less tea per ounce.
- Pour water over tea leaves.
- Steep for 5 minutes.
Are you a tea drinker? Loose leaf, teabags, or both? What are some of the best, most aromatic and delicious teas you’ve ever had? Please share them with us!
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