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Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties

Tea is a comprehensive guide to non-herbal tea, the plant Camellia sinensis. Concise and authoritative text and an abundance of color photographs take the reader on an escorted tour of the world's tea-growing countries.    

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How to Brew Tea Without Instructions

Oops. You ordered that great tea. But alas...the tea arrived with no instructions. Or the tea merchants web site has no brewing instructions. Are you forever and hopelessly out of luck?

No, as there are some "loose" guidelines you can follow to make good loose-leaf and bagged teas that have no instructions. These are "guidelines only," however, as I've run across more than a few wacky tea instructions in my lifetime that I would have never assumed would have worked...but they did.

Anyways, if your tea does not have instructions...here is where to start.

If Your Tea Has Instructions, Follow The Guidelines on the How To Brew Tea Page!

Use Cold, Good Water

Just like if your tea had instructions...you use cold water. Period.

Now, with that little disclaimer out of the way

Black Tea & Oolong Tea

Here are basic black tea brewing instructions that work for most black and oolong teas.

  1. Boil 1 cup water (1 cup = 6 ounces, not 8!).
  2. Use a teaspoon to scoop out about 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of leaves. How much you scoop out depends on the size of the leaves. If the leaves are small, use 1 teaspoon. If the leaves are large (and thus loosely held in your teaspoon), use 1.5 teaspoons.
  3. Put tea in infuser
  4. Pour boiling water over tea leave
  5. Let brew for three minutes

Green Tea

Green tea should never be exposed to boiling water. NEVER.

  1. Use 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of tea leaves. If leaves are large, use 1.5 teaspoons. Otherwise, use 1 teaspoon.
  2. Warm up 1 cup water (6 ounces) to just short of boiling. Do NOT BOIL!
  3. Allow water to cool briefly
  4. Pour water over tea leaves
  5. Let brew 2-3 minutes. Do NOT go over three minutes.

White Tea

White tea is the most delicate of teas. Never, ever use boiling water.

  1. Use 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of tea leaves. If leaves are large, use 1.5 teaspoons. Otherwise, use 1 teaspoon.
  2. Warm up 1 cup water (6 ounces) to just short of boiling. Do NOT BOIL!
  3. Allow water to cool briefly
  4. Pour water over tea leaves
  5. Let brew 2-3 minutes. Do NOT go over three minutes.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas come in such a wide and dizzying variety that it can be kind of a crap shoot to see what works and what doesn't. But these guidelines will usually, but not always, work well.

  1. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of leaves. For tightly packed leaves (peppermint), use 1 teaspoon. For moderately packed leaves use 1.5 teaspoons. For large herbal teas (such as whole fruit teas), use 2 teaspoons. Note, you can use more than suggested here...this is the "minimum requirement." Thus, if you want a stronger peppermint tea, you can use 1.5 teaspoons if you wish.
  2. Boil 1 cup boiling water (1 cup is 6 ounces)
  3. Pour water over tea
  4. Let steep a minimum of 5 minutes and a maximum of 10. The longer the steep time, the stronger the taste. By and large, if in doubt...go 7 minutes...a general "safe" time for all herbal teas. Note, herbal teas do NOT get bitter...so you don't have to worry about bitterness by allowing them to brew longer.

Rooibos Teas

Rooibos teas are basically brewed identically to herbal teas, simply because they can't be "over-brewed" as rooibos tea does not come from the tea plant.

  1. Use 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of leaves. Use 1.5 teaspoons for a stronger flavor, but I find 1 teaspoon works just fine too.
  2. Pour 1 cup boiling water over tea leaves
  3. Let brew 5 minutes minimum to around 8 minutes maximum. Longer the brewing time, the stronger the taste. If you are drinking a flavored rooibos tea...definitely go the full eight minutes. For a straight rooibos tea, 5 minutes will work well.
 


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