For those just starting out in the world of tea, the good news is that learning how to brew tea isn’t a very complicated process. We’re here to show you the art of tea steeping and the best way to brew tea!
There is nothing better than a good cup of tea! Brewing a cup of tea can be a therapeutic and soothing experience. It can be the difference between a good or bad day. It is often the first drink you reach for in the morning and the last drink you have before bed.
Before we talk about the process of steeping and making tea on a stovetop, it’s vital to cover a few key terms. Hopefully, this will kickstart your tea obsession and you will be an expert brewer very soon.
Let’s get to it!
What is Brewed Tea?
One frequent question often asked is what the difference between steeped tea and brewed tea. The answer is quite simple: brewed tea and steeped teas are the same.
Actually, brewing is the act of making your cup of tea, while steeping is the actual process. As long as you make good tea it won’t really matter which word you use.
To simplify things a bit, let’s take a quick look at a few keywords you’ll come across on most boxes/bags of tea:
- Brewing – Brewing tea is the act of making tea on a stove top or with the use of an electric kettle.
- Steeping – What is tea steeping? In the art of making tea, steeping is the process of extracting flavors from the tea leaves. How do you let tea steep? Simply allow your tea to sit in the hot water for a short time. The tea will do the rest of the work!
- Tea Bag – A tea bag is a mesh baggy that contains loose leaf tea, spices, and other herbs.
- Loose Leaf Tea – Loose leaf tea is simply different leaves, herbs, and spices for the perfect cup of tea. Leaving these ingredients loose often gives users the option of customizing their preferred cup.
- Kettle – This is the device that you boil water in. These can be as simple as a metal kettle used on the stove top, or an electric kettle that has its own heating element built right into it.
- Infuser/Strainer – Tea infusers take on many forms, including infuser balls or simple strainers. Typically, these devices are used with loose leaf tea, and simply provide a vessel for simple steeping and straining. This allows users to enjoy their cup of tea without ingesting the teas, herbs, and spices themselves.
If you want to be a proper hot tea brewer then you need to familiarise yourself with these keywords and the equipment. Let’s have a look at how you can brew the perfect cup of tea.
What You’ll Need to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea
When it comes to learning how to brew tea, defining the “perfect cup” can be a bit difficult, only because everyone has their own taste preference. The brewing process can differ depending on whether you like a refreshing light tea or a dark and bitter tea.
Some people view tea making as a spiritual experience and other people just need to brew a quick cup before work. The tremendous variety and subtleties in tea is part of the reason it is so popular around the world. It can be difficult to replicate a great cup of tea. However, there are some key items you’ll need to prepare your beverage.
While there are different methods of making cold and hot tea, we will be focusing on how to prepare hot tea for this article. Cold tea is a whole other art form that has its own nuances and variations. Before we discuss how to brew tea, let’s gather up our essentials, shall we?
Tea, Herbs, and Spices
Learning the best ways to brew tea can be a little tricky because it all comes down to which ingredients a user prefers and the overall quality of them. Procuring high-quality tea is the best way to make a great cup of tea. Good leaves can make your tea taste full and flavorsome. But if you follow a good process your bog-standard tea can also taste pretty great.
Typically, users want to know one of two things: how to brew tea leaves and how to make tea with tea bags.
Here’s the simple answer, the process is the same, but you will have to choose between a premade tea blend or making their own blend. There is a lot of room for experimentation when it comes to brewing tea.
You can experiment with ingredients, equipment, and the overall process. They can all impact the flavor and the aroma of the finished cup of tea. There is plenty of brewing to be done before you create the perfect cup. And it can be a lot of fun for tea novices to practice different tea making traditions.
That’s where the different variety of tea leaves, herbs, and spices come into play. A great cup of tea will involve judgment. There are a few basic elements but you can mix, blend and infuse many different elements to create something new as well.
Honestly, tea can be made with any combination of:
- tea leaves,
- spices, and even
- fresh fruits.
If you know your preferred flavors, then going with loose leaf ingredients may be right up your ally. By using loose leaf ingredients you will be able to tailor your tea experience to your preferred taste. It is a traditional method than is often seen as a tranquil and measured way of making tea. Many people opt for loose leaf because they are interested in the art of tea preparation and want to create their own blend.
However, if you are new to tea, then a premade blend in a tea bag may suit you better, as it is less overwhelming. Bagged tea is big business because it is quick, easy and the tea company has already done all the experimentation to create a good flavor.
If you just want conventional full flavors and no-hassle then you may want to choose a tea bag. Going for prepackaged boxes of tea bags allows you to choose sleepytime and detox tea. This sort of variety can be difficult to find in loose leaf tea.
Infuser or Strainer
If you’ve decided to go with a loose-leaf tea blend, you’ll want some form of infuser or strainer. These devices allow the user to enjoy the flavors of their tea without ingesting the actual herbs, spices, and tea leaves themselves. You don’t want to find bits in your tea or stuck between your teeth!
Strainers are pretty basic in that they are a device with fine holes, or fabric or metal mesh built into it. This allows the liquid to pass through while keeping the solids in the cup or kettle. It is a staple device for anybody interested in tea. It works to preserve the integrity of the ingredients and provide you with a fully flavored tea.
An infuser works the same as a strainer but is often a device that houses the ingredients. Think of a mesh tea bag. Mesh bags and metal infuser balls all work the same and allow users to customize their own flavor blends without having to ingest the solid materials.
If you are a tea enthusiast we recommend getting yourself an infuser or strainer of your own. They will allow you to get a great loose leaf tea and will help you steep and brew until you have perfected your ideal blend.
Sachet vs Tea Bag
A sachet is meant to be like a higher quality tea bag. Naturally, with many tea brands competing to sell the tea, there has been a blurring of the lines. Some companies call their teabags sachets because they know they can fetch a higher price for their product.
The difference between the two is not entirely clear. However, RateTea classifies “teas as sachets when their construction allows full expansion of the tea leaf, and when they use the same leaf that a company sells as loose leaf tea.” Sachets are meant to provide a more premium tea experience.
So if you are looking for a loose-leaf taste but don’t want any hassle you should go for a sachet tea. Standard tea bags are more useful if you just want to make a single cup of tea. The loose-leaf and expanded construction of sachet tea allows you to make more than one cup of tea on more than one occasion.
As with other tea debates, it all comes down to personal preference. Try a teabag if you are looking for something convenient and easy. If you are looking for a fuller and more luxurious taste, try a sachet. Maybe the best thing to do is to alternate between the two until you find your favorite brew.
You can’t boil water without a vessel! Believe it or not, many individuals will simply boil a small pot of water to brew their tea. However, most people choose to go with more traditional metal or ceramic kettle. Simply add water to it and boil.
More recently, the electric kettle has started to make their way onto the tea brewing scene, meaning that users didn’t need to fire up the stove because these kettles have their own heating element built into them.
It is important to take care when you pour hot water over your tea bag or tea leaves. You can ruin your tea if the water is too hot or too cold. After boiling the water you should let it sit for a minute. If you pour boiling water over tea leaves you can scold them and ruin the flavor of the tea.
While many individuals are perfectly fine with using their typical tap water to brew their tea, many find that using filtered or distilled water makes a big difference in the overall taste once they start steeping their ingredients.
Obviously, other than the bag or the leaves, the water is a major player in the tea game. You should be aware of whether you have hard or soft water coming out of your taps. You will definitely be able to taste the difference. And your tea will have a different flavor if the quality of the water is poor.
If you are able to filter your water, definitely give it a go. Filtered water is the best way to allow your tea leaves to release their full flavor.
Learning How to Brew Tea Depends on What Tea You Are Brewing
Like we mentioned earlier, learning how to brew tea isn’t all that difficult, it just comes down to your personal preference. First and foremost, you’ll want to decide on pre-made tea blends that are already in tea bags. Or, a more versatile “make your own” blend with loose tea.
Let’s have a look at how to brew with tea leaves and tea bags.
How to Brew Tea Bags
Learning to brew with tea bags is probably the safest bet when first venturing into the world of tea. This allows users to sample different blends without the hassle of having to worry about purchasing different ingredients. It is quick, simple and refreshing.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to use one tea bag per 8 oz. cup of water. For those who like their cup a little stronger, consider adding two bags. Some people suggest that the length of time you steep your tea will help make it stronger. But that simply isn’t true.
In most cases, steeping your ingredients longer will only make it more bitter. For some people, a sharp and bitter tea is exactly what they want. But for most people, it is important to limit the bitterness and maximize the ability of the tea and the water to create a smooth blend.
Depending on the tea, steeping time generally range between two and five minutes. If you are in a rush and pull your bag out too soon the teabag won’t be able to release its full flavor.
How Many Times Can I Use A Tea Bag?
So you’ve brewed your cup of tea but you don’t want to be wasteful. Surely, there is still plenty of flavor and goodness in your teabag. Generally, tea bags can be reused a couple of times maximum. If you continue to reuse a bag 3 or 4 times over it will become spent.
Steeping tea leaves is a less wasteful and more efficient way of brewing tea. If you use loose leaf tea you can get at least 2 or 3 uses on average. Can you reuse tea leaves? Some loose leaf tea can be steeped 5 or 6 times and still have great flavor. It is all about being methodical and gentle during the tea making process so the leaves are able to release their full flavor each time.
Generally, it should be pretty clear whether your tea bag is spent. If your tea is weak and overly bitter then throw your tea bag away. If you are wondering why does tea taste bitter, it could be because you have steeped your tea for too long.
Tea is too good to ruin by reusing or steeping for too long. Allow yourself to enjoy your cup of tea by following the correct brewing process!
Can You Leave Tea Out?
If it’s moldy, don’t drink it! That should be pretty obvious. As long as it is not moldy or overly murky you can leave tea out overnight and drink it the next day. In fact, many people leave tea in the fridge to make a good cold brew.
Some people forget they’ve made a cup of tea. After finding their forgotten cup of tea they might put it in the microwave and heat it up again. This is perfectly acceptable. However, you should know that while you will get a hot tea cup, the tea within the vessel might not taste that great after being reheated.
Leaving loose leaf tea out overnight can actually be beneficial. “Steeping tea in the water for a long time will make the brew very concentrated. Some of the elements might start interacting with each other and oxidize forming different combinations” (Ecooe).
How long does fresh brewed tea last? It can last as long as five days provided that it is refrigerated and sealed properly. If you keep your tea in the fridge you will prevent any bacteria growing on the surface. You can then preserve the flavor and enjoy your tea whenever you want.
How to Brew Tea Leaves Without A Bag
The actual process of brewing your tea without a tea bag is the same. However, there are a few key differences that you’ll want to keep in mind.
When you are using loose-leaf tea and other ingredients, you’ll want to make sure you have something to steep with. Infusers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. And, even some cups and mugs come with infusers built right in.
An infuser/strainer is integral to the brewing process for loose leaf tea. When you pour over tea without an infuser you are likely to get a weak flavor and unpleasant floaty bits in your drink. Using loose leaf also allows you a great ability to customize and curate your ingredients.
One of the most common reasons that some choose to go with loose tea leaves over tea bags is the fact they want to know where all of their ingredients are coming from. Some people worry that premade blends are contaminated by bags that have been contaminated by a bleaching process. Thankfully, not all tea bags are bleached but it is more common than you may think.
Learning How to Brew Tea Can Be Simple
Making that perfect cup of tea isn’t as complicated as you may think. If you are intimidated by the thought of choosing your own ingredients, then start simple. Try a few different pre-made tea bag blends. In most cases, proper steeping times and water temperatures will be located on the box itself.
There is plenty of variety when it comes to tea bags and loose leaf tea. There is a tea for every mood. Increasingly, tea brands are incorporating new flavors and ingredients to create detox tea or energy-boosting tea. It is an exciting time to be a tea enthusiast.
For those looking to make their own blends, make sure you pick quality ingredients. Many fresh markets have wonderful selections of tea leaves, spices, and herbs. Make these in any number of combinations to suit your taste.
Experimenting with different blends and infusions is fun. Loose leaf tea is also a purer and less wasteful process.
There is also a therapeutic element to the traditional tea making process that can enrich your tea drinking experience. Thankfully there is an abundance of history and knowledge for you to rely on when you come to try and brew your perfect cup.
Whether you favor chamomile over mint or darjeeling over chai there is a lot of room for experimentation. Brewing can become a great hobby that you can share with the people you love. Often there is nothing better than having a conversation over a good cup of tea.
If you follow some of the brewing tips and hints we have discussed you will be a tea expert in no time at all! So don’t be afraid to try out different flavor options on your tea brewing journey!
What flavors and spices would you recommend brewing with your tea?
Share in the comments below!