Tea is the world’s most popular beverage, second only to simple water. From its origins in ancient China, it has spread to Europe through trade and cultural exchange. Tea became the phenomenon we know it as today in 17th-century England. The British not only popularized the drink but also created the entire tea industry of India.
There is a whole culture and history of tea preparation and drinking – certain cultures even have tea-drinking ritual ceremonies. Here are seven very basic tips to preparing better tea:
1. Buying high-quality tea leaves is the first step to good tea.
2. “Steeping” describes the placement of tea leaves into hot water, the main act of tea preparation. Steep tea at the correct temperature, for the correct amount of time. Follow the handy infographic.
3. Be caffeine conscious. Steeping determines how much caffeine will end up in your cup. For less, steep for a few minutes, throw out the stronger brew, and then steep again, for a greatly reduced amount of caffeine.
4. Do not heat tea in the microwave. One of the key elements of a well-brewed tea is the correct temperature of water. Use a teapot instead.
5. In the summer, when preparing iced tea, either cold-brew it in the refrigerator or, when adding ice to hot tea, be sure to double the amount of leaves used, since ice will dilute the mixture.
6. Say goodbye to tea bags. Usually, loose tea mixtures will contain higher quality parts of the tea plant than what’s hidden inside commercial tea bags. If you must use tea bags, find the pyramid-shaped kind, since they give heated, expanding leaves more room to breathe and disperse their taste.
7. Get good tea gadgets. These days, there are electronic teapots which time good tea down to the second, as well as clever mugs, infusers and brew baskets. A serious tea drinker will invest in as many professional accessories as possible.