Tea is a beverage that has been enjoyed for thousands of years around the globe. Second only to water, tea is consumed by millions of people every day. America alone consumes 3.6 billion gallons of tea annually. With over 3,000 varieties of tea available, it’s easy to get lost in the vast tea world. However, scientists have dedicated their time to discovering the perfect cup of tea. Here are nine scientifically-supported tips that’ll make your next cup taste even better.
1. Time Your Brew
The most contentious part about making a cup of tea is the brewing process. How long should it be steeped? Well, that depends on the type of tea. Every tea variety is different and requires a specific brewing time. Researchers suggest that somewhere between two and five minutes is the optimal brewing period, depending on the leaf. However, specific tea brands may specify a different steeping time. Therefore, it is essential to know the recommended brewing instructions to achieve the perfect cup.
2. Water Temperature
The temperature of the water used to brew tea is as important as the brewing time. The ideal temperature varies depending on the tea variety. For example, green tea requires a temperature of 175°F to 180°F (80°C to 82°C), while black tea needs a higher temperature of 200°F (93°C). According to the UK Tea & Infusions Association, using water that’s too hot or too cold can spoil the tea, resulting in a bitter taste. It’s essential to pay close attention to the recommended temperature for the specific tea variety.
3. The Water Must Be Fresh
Using fresh water is vital when brewing tea. Stagnant water that has been sitting around will make the tea taste stale. Just like taking a bath in stale water is unpleasant, drinking tea made with old water is also disappointing. Fresh water from the tap is ideal, and there is no need to go overboard with expensive water sources.
4. Let Your Tea Sit; Patience is Key
The temperature of freshly brewed tea can be too hot to drink right after brewing. Scientists in England have recommended that tea should be left to sit for at least six minutes to cool down to the appropriate drinking temperature, which is around 140°F (60°C). This waiting period allows the tea to release all its flavors, resulting in a perfect cup of tea. However, waiting too long can also spoil the tea’s taste, so it’s essential to strike a balance and find the right moment to enjoy your tea.
5. Cool Your Tea by Leaving a Teaspoon in It
In a hurry to drink your freshly brewed tea? Then, try cooling your tea with a teaspoon. The Royal Society of Chemistry suggests that placing a teaspoon in the tea for a few seconds is an effective cooling method. This technique is an easy way to cool the tea without compromising the flavor, so you can enjoy your tea without worrying about burning your tongue.
6. When to Add Milk to Your Tea
The argument about the right time to add milk in tea has been a topic of contention among tea drinkers for years. The solution depends on the brewing method. If you’re pouring brewed tea from a teapot into a cup, it’s okay to add the milk first. However, if you’re pouring boiling water into the cup, never add the teabag with the milk first, as it will cool the water and produce a weaker flavor.
7. Storage is Key to Optimal Taste
The taste of tea can suffer if it’s not stored correctly. Tea leaves are prone to absorbing odors and moisture that can adversely affect the taste. Therefore, it’s essential to store the tea away from strong-smelling food items. To ensure the tea remains fresh, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
8. Loose Leaf vs. Tea Bag
Many people prefer to use teabags due to their convenience, but loose leaf tea varieties offer a better flavor profile. Loose leaf teas unfurl completely during the steeping process, resulting in a better flavor and fully releasing the tea’s catechins (the health-boosting antioxidants in tea). Tea bags comprise leaves that have been finely chopped, leaving small particles that can produce a stranded flavor. Loose leaf tea can also be re-steeped, which isn’t the case with tea bags.
9. Make Your Tea Strong
Famous tea enthusiast George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay “A Nice Cup Of Tea” that “one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones.” This statement is still valid today for many tea lovers. Using the correct brewing time, water temperature, and proportion of tea to water is essential in creating a cup of tea that has a robust flavor profile. Making tea too weak can result in disappointment and a wasted opportunity to experience the fullness of the tea.
Tea is a comforting beverage that has been enjoyed for centuries. Understanding how to create the perfect cup of tea isn’t always easy, but it is necessary to experience the fullness of the tea. By following these nine scientifically-supported tips, you’ll be on the path to creating a cup of tea that is both delightful and unforgettable.