You may think our neighbors across the pond have a monopoly on the tea market. But Britain’s signature beverage is becoming increasingly popular in the states. Are you ready to embrace a soothing, flavorful cup of tea, but not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! Here is a guide to help you choose and brew the best beverage every time.
Tea types and influences
There are many different types of tea, including herbal tea, black tea, green tea, oolong tea and Rooibos tea. But all tea, regardless of the type, comes from a flowering evergreen shrub known as a “tea plant.” Much like wine, the taste and caliber of tea are influenced by a variety of factors, including altitude, climate, soil and the way in which the leaves are harvested and processed. As a general rule, tea that is grown at a higher altitude boasts enhanced flavor and better quality.
There are three essential elements to brewing the perfect cup of tea: good water quality, proper water temperature and accurate brewing time.
Different types of tea require different water temperatures. For instance, black, herbal, Rooibos and fruit tea need boiling water. Herbal green tea, on the other hand, is best prepared with water that’s been heated to between 149 degrees and 176 degrees Fahrenheit. For Oolong tea, make sure the water has been heated to between 176 degrees and 194 degrees Fahrenheit.
You’ll likely find brewing details on the tea’s packaging, but here are some general guidelines for achieving the consummate cup:
- Begin with a preheated teapot (simply fill the pot with hot water and let it stand for a minute before emptying)
- Always use fresh, cold water. (In other words, don’t reheat the water that’s been hanging out in the teapot since your last cup!) This extracts maximum flavor from the tea leaves.
- When using loose tea, the ratio should be one teaspoon (you knew this was called a “teaspoon” for a reason!) per cup.
- If the tea is best prepared with boiling water (e.g., herbal tea), allow the water to boil for a maximum of 10 seconds or the flavor may fall flat.
- Brew tea according to package directions, but typically for between two and five minutes. Tea brewed for less than three minutes is usually calming whereas tea brewed in excess of three minutes may have a stimulating effect.
- Do not wash your teapot with anything other than cold water.
Similar to coffee, tea can be enjoyed hot or iced, with or without caffeine. Here are some of our top recommendations for a flavorful cuppa:
- Vitacost Organic Loose Chocolate Pu-erh Tea. Pu-erh is a fermented variety of tea. In this tempting blend, organic pu-erh is blended with chocolate for a cupful of bliss.
- Rishi Tea Organic Loose Leaf Green Tea Jasmine. “Pure green tea traditionally scented with enchantingly fragrant jasmine blossoms.” This fragrant tea has a “subtle fruity finish.”
- Tazo Awake™ English Breakfast Black Tea. “A breakfast-style black tea of malty boldness and bright flavor, invigorating any time of day.” This full-bodied black tea can’t be beat!
- Two Leaves and a Bud Organic Whole Leaf Herbal Peppermint Tea Sachets. Bold, caffeine-free tea with a refreshing minty flavor. A great way to end any meal!
- African Red Tea Imports Rooibos Natural Red Loose Tea. An organic, caffeine-free loose tea that’s rich in antioxidants and minerals. Plus, you’ll love the naturally sweet flavor!
- Choice Organic Teas Oolong Tea. “A gentle earthiness with hints of smoke, a lingering finish and a delightful aroma make this a remarkably enticing and enriching cup.” Take this earthy, sophisticated tea out for a spin!
- Numi Organic Gunpowder Green Tea. A “full-leaf smooth green tea” that’s fair trade certified. It provides a medium-level jolt of caffeine and the bags are biodegradable!
- Twinings Classics Loose Earl Grey Tea. We’d be remiss not to mention this “light and aromatic blend of fine black tea scented with a citrus bergamot flavor.” Try it for yourself!