Loose Leaf Tea, The Basics

The 8 Steps to Loose Leaf Tea

1. Picking The Right Tea Bag Replacement. Tea balls come in all shapes and sizes, from the single cup, to a full pot, and all the way to gallon sized for your ice tea. Unless you’re making a cup of tea here and there, a pot size tea steeper is a great choice.

 

2. Picking the right tea pot. A traditional tea pot is a great option, and adds a certain ambience when serving company. However, for every day use, I’ve found that using a glass french press works best, and can double as your coffee maker. Read more here!

3. Picking the right kettle. The key is a kettle that allows you to control the temperature of the water. Depending on the leaf you will want to steep at different temperatures, and once again it will double for making coffee. NEVER USE BOILING WATER!

4. Picking the right leaf. Whether it’s herbal, green, or black, your tea should meet two qualifications. 1st is freshness which is where air tight storage comes in. 2nd is taste. Not all teas are for everyone. I recommend keeping an Irish breakfast tea on hand. It’s a tad smoother than earl gray, and makes the best pitcher of ice tea. For something a little different I like a relaxing cup of mint tea, with the smallest splash of cream.
There are literally thousands of blends of tea, and the only way to find the ones you’ll love is to try them. However, by looking at a few major categories you’ll be able to save yourself some time and hassle.
Green tea, is light, delicate, and known to have health benefits. However, the fresh taste can be off putting.
Herbal tea, as a rule simple means that it doesn’t have tea leafs in it, and is caffeine free. Hibiscus is my personal favorite; however the options are nearly endless.

 

5. Steeping at the right temperature

6. Serving in the right mugs. Presentation can make all the difference. There’s something special about drinking out of a clear mug where you can see the beautiful tea. Especially on a rainy day curled up with a book.
Size matters. A giant mug that holds 20-30 oz of tea, is no good. A 12 oz mug is ideal. There’s room for tea, cream, and space at the top to breath. It’s best practice to leave a half inch space between the rim of the mug and the top of the tea, to prevent spilling.

7. How to add cream and sugar and when you shouldn’t. If you’ve ever watched Downton Abbey and wondered what they meant for 1 sugar or 2, the sugar cubes they’re using are pre measured teaspoon servings. Tea will quickly loose it’s subtler flavors if over sugared; however 1 teaspoon will bring out extra flavor from any tea, but green tea. NEVER SWEETEN GREEN TEA!
There could be a whole post on cream, and the replacements for it. The basics are, pour your cream, or cream substitute into a serving glass. I’ve used a spare mug in a pinch plenty of times. You should do this before you put your kettle on. You want your cream to warm up a tad. Not quite room temperature, but also not so cold that it chills your tea.
The correct amount of cream is to taste, but a good starting point is 1 oz to 8 oz of tea. The exceptions to this are green tea which should have no cream, and chi tea which needs far more. You can read my chi tea recipe here.

 

8. Sip, Read, Enjoy! Now that you have perfect cup of tea, sit back in your favorite chair, open up a great book, and allow the warmth to melt your afternoon away. While traditional tea time is 4 pm, there is no wrong time for a great cup of tea.

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