Lesson #3: Making The Perfect Cup of Tea
It doesn't matter how cheap or how expensive your tea is. If you brew it wrong, it's awful.
This is a lesson many beginners learn the hard way. Most people who claim that they "don't like the taste" are repelled by an incorrectly brewed tea. This can create an erroneous enmity that can last a lifetime... But this can be easily avoided with better brewing.
There are a lot of restaurants, cafés and households that serve tea try to do shortcuts by simply throwing all teas into boiling water and serving visitors without any direction. This can be equated to as handing a new driver the keys to a Rolls Royce and told to "take it for a spin down the highway": it will probably not be appreciated and possibly wrecked.
Steeping good tea does not take a PhD, but it is also not as simple as chucking it into boiling water and leaving it to waste. There are easy ways, however, to steep the perfect cup. In fact, there are nearly as many brewing methods as there are teas. We've evaluated the many steeping methods and will provide the most effective and functional ways to infuse the ideal tea in this lesson.
The trick to steeping tea correctly comes in three parts:
Using too much tea will make your tea bitter and your wallet empty. Too little tea will taste weak and unsatisfying. The volume that is considered the "golden ratio" of leaves to water is one teaspoon of leaves per 8oz cup of water. However, the light and voluminous teas will taste best with twice that.
Some like it hot, some don’t… so the ideal temperature for which to steep depends on the tea. When preparing black, dark oolong (like the Too Long Oolong) and herbal teas, use boiling water (212F).
These teas are tough-they can take the burn. However, it's important to use cooler (180F) water when steeping more delicate teas, such as green, light oolong (peachy oolong) and white teas. The only exception to these rules is the Indian Mint, which contains Peppermint and First Flush Darjeeling – because this is a very young and tender black tea, it should be treated like a green tea using 180F water. Remember to not over-steep, or the tea will taste bitter.
Time, as they say, can heal all wounds. However, in the case of tea, it also makes most teas turn bitter. The rule of thumb is 5 minutes for most black teas-- any longer, and they'll taste almost as bad as coffee. Dark oolongs (like the Too Long Oolong), on the other hand, are much more forgiving.
These teas will taste best when steeped for 7 minutes but will still be drinkable if steeped a little longer. For light oolong, white and green teas (and Indian Mint black tea), a little TLC must be employed, steeping for only 3 minutes.
Besides tea leaves themselves, another important part in making the perfect cup is the water. Good water will make a world of difference in the taste of your tea. After all, even the finest of tea varieties will taste humdrum when prepared with poor water.
Unfortunately, to call the water that emerges from your tap “poor” is a mild compliment. In fact, about a fifth of American taps dispenses water containing dangerous levels of hazardous materials. And these don't add to the flavour of your tea at least, not good flavour. This is why Tavalon uses several water filters to ensure the highest quality water for every infusion!
The proper equipment is very important in the steeping process. As soon as you add hot water, tea leaves can unfurl up to 5 times their dry size. So to make a great tea you need to give your leaves a wide space. It needs a large infuser area to imbue as much flavour into your cup as possible. Thus, as mentioned in a later lesson, commercial tea bags are not recommended- due to inadequate expansion room and low-quality tea.
This brings us to our final point. To make the perfect cup of tea, there is one more prerequisite: good tea. Tavalon has searched the world to find the highest quality tea, and you will soon see that it makes a noticeable difference.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." But we’d now like to add your ability to make a great cup of tea.
The perfect cup of tavalon tea is out there... just brew it.