When I was younger, preparing a cup of tea was always an unceremonious affair.
- Heat the water up (usually in the microwave).
- Get the tea bag from the (insert big brand name) box .
- Dunk said tea bag into the blistering hot cup of water.
- Add sugar and begin to sip cautiously while leaving tea bag in cup.
Looking back on it now, we did the best we could! But now that I'm older, I know quite a bit more about brewing a great cup of tea, and I've learned one of the most important steps is the steeping.
As you can tell, my previous train of thought on steeping was to just get the tea bag in the cup and let it sit until the cup was empty. That couldn't be any more wrong! You might have even done it before: you made a cup of tea but forgot about it. By the time you came back to drink it, it was full of bitterness and barely tasted like the tea you expected!
This happens because tea does have a general steeping limit to producing a pleasant taste, due to a naturally occurring plant chemical called tannin. Tannin is what allows teas and some wines to have a slightly dry and bitter taste. When we let tea sit in a cup of water for longer than recommended, we allow more and more tannins to be released, which results in a more bitter taste. With this in mind, timing now becomes very important for producing a great tasting cup of tea.
It's important to know different teas (green, white, black) have different steeping times:
- Black tea: 3 to 5 minutes
- Green tea: 2 to 4 minutes
- White tea: 2 to 3 minutes
It's also important to note what is listed here is a general rule, and each specific tea will have its own steeping time. For instance, our Masala Chai, which has black tea as its base, should steep for no longer than 3 minutes. But our Monks Blend, which also has black tea as its base, can steep for 3 to 5 minutes. This is because different tea blends can have different herbs, spices, and fruits, which all affect that steeping time!
If you're how I was when I first learned, you might not believe any of this just yet. After all, years of doing something a certain way can be hard to break! But if you really enjoy tea, I promise you'll love it even more when you begin to steep yours properly!
Try it, and let us know in the comments how it goes!
Want to talk more? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more conversation about steeping!