Do you recognize any of your tea drinking habits in the following list?
Learn how to take your tea drinking to the next level with a few simple adjustments.
Many tea drinkers commonly…
- Think grocery store herb “tea” bags are drinking tea. While the trend is S.L.O.W.L.Y. changing, the majority of tea sold in the grocery store is not tea, but the “dust and fannings” of herbs. Tea bags were invented 100 years ago as a way to send samples to customers, but tea was drunk 5000 years without the bag. The trend of the teabag caught on, but severely affected the quality of what was placed inside the bags. If you only drink herbs, you have never drank tea. If you’ve only drank Lipton black tea bags, you are drinking the lowest quality tea available, the crumbs of the tea leaf, made to infuse very quickly. If you are committed to the teabag, look for the Mighty Leaf brand. It is more widely available in looseleaf and “tea pouches”
- Use tea strainers that are too small.
- So, if you’ve graduated to looseleaf tea, but use the mesh strainer the size of a super-ball to brew your tea, you most likely need a bigger strainer. The tea mesh-balls we all seem to own in the backs of our kitchen drawer mean you can brew one cup of tea at a time. Tea leaves need plenty of room to expand, they double in size to release their full flavor. I recommend using a tea sock or sac for brewing looseleaf tea. The sacs are disposable and the tea sock reusable and can be used no matter what size of pot you are brewing.
- Use tap or microwaved water. Tea is mostly water. Lousy water means lousy tea. All the chemical aftertaste of tap water and the “tinny-ness” of microwaved water will greatly affect tea’s subtle tastes and nuances. Cold, filtered water makes the best tea.
- Burn or rust out the bottom of their teakettles.A good tea kettle is not inexpensive. Many times I have gone to fill someone’s kettle and seen it rusted out on the inside. First, be sure to not leave your pot boiling until the water is gone. Secondly, especially if you don’t use it often, empty your teakettle of any unused water every time. I also leave my tea kettles lid ajar after I empty it, so it can air dry.
- Use the wrong water temperature, boil the water too long, or brew the tea too long. The most common mistake is over-boiling water for green tea, one of the latest health food crazes. Green tea needs a rapid steaming water, but NOT BOILING. It will taste like an overcooked vegetable. Green teas only need two minutes of brewing. Black teas only need 3-4 minutes and almost boiling water for brewing. Over-brewed tea will taste bitter. If you put on your kettle and go upstairs to make your bed and leave the kettle boiling, oxygen is rapidly being released from your water and the result will be a flat-tasting tea. Know the water temp and steeping (brewing) times of your teas and honor them.
- Use cream or half-n-half in their tea instead of milk. Cream and half-n-half are too “heavy”. Again, the subtlety of the tea flavor only needs a touch of milk. Many a large tea party fund-raiser has spent too much money providing half-n-half instead of milk to the guests.
- Do not store their tea properly. Tea needs to be protected from heat, light, moisture, and other flavors. The best storage is a tea tin in a cupboard away from the stove. If you put your Earl Grey tea next to your spices, you will end up with a cinnamon-flavored Earl Grey (or chili powder-flavored!). If you see tea in glass jars out on the shelf when you go to buy your looseleaf tea, this is not ideal! Unless the store turns over their tea VERY QUICKLY, the freshness of your tea has been compromised. Don’t store your tea over your stove to easily grab once the kettle is boiling. Never store tea in the refrigerator.
Other helpful articles on tea:
Tea Party Girl Asks: Which of these “tea truths” surprised you? What part of your tea drinking habits do you need to change? Is there any other mistakes you’ve noticed that we need to add to the list?