At first glance, brewing loose leaf tea is a simple process: you boil water, measure your tea, infuse it, strain it, and drink it. However, for the best tea experience, these easy steps have a bit of nuance. If you want to learn how to brew black tea like the sophisticated tea drinker you are, follow these steps.
1. Boil your water. This step seems simple enough. Whether you're using an electric kettle or a simple stovetop one, you want to use fresh, cold water for your tea. Be sure to let the water reach a full, rolling boil. Tepid water will produce weak black tea.
One of the most common mistakes people make when brewing loose leaf tea is waiting too long between the kettle and the cup. Black teas brew best at boiling point or close to boiling point. You should be sure to have your tea prepared before you take the kettle off of the stove.
Some electric kettles may not get your tea to the right temperature to allow tea to infuse properly. If you use an electric kettle, check the manufacturer's guide to make sure your water is getting hot enough.
While your tea brews, you also need to keep the temperature up. If possible, infuse your loose leaf in a teapot rather than a cup. This will keep the heat from escaping and provide the most robust flavor. If you do use a cup, try to purchase one with a lid.
Finally, take this tip from the British: use a tea cozy! A tea cozy will provide an extra layer around your teapot to keep the water nice and hot.
2. Measure your tea. The most difficult part of learning how to brew tea is putting the proper amount of tea per cup. For black tea, this is typically one teaspoon per cup of water. When making a full pot of tea, it is traditional to add an extra teaspoon for the pot.
If you like your tea strong, add more tea--perhaps one extra teaspoon per two cups. It's fine to experiment here. Some flavored black teas, such as Simple Tea's blackberry black tea will produce richer tones if a little more is added. You may find that other teas, like Earl Grey teas, are strong enough with less tea.
Check your tea tin or package to see if there are special instructions for how much tea to add to your pot.
3. Set a timer to steep. This is the step where the most can go wrong. You should set a timer for at least two minutes to let your tea steep, and for no longer than five minutes. This is the optimal time to let your tea infuse for the best flavor. Afterwards, take your tea leaves out.
Remember, if you want stronger tea, add more tea, not more time. If you steep your tea for too long, it is likely to become bitter. Once your brew time is done, remove the leaves from the water.
Teapots and cups with infusers are the best products to use for this step. They allow you to immediately remove the tea leaves to stop the infusion process. If you don't have a metal infuser, you can also purchase disposal paper infusers. Or, as a last resort, you can even use a coffee filter, though you may not get the best results.
Don't drink your tea quite yet. You should be patient for another five minutes while you let your tea cool. This way, you won't burn your tongue and the flavor has time to develop to its fullest.
4. Adding milk, sugar, and honey. "One lump or two?" is a question you might your guests, but sometimes the best answer is "none at all!" Some teas, such as Earl Grey , pair well with milk and sugar.
You shouldn't add milk to black teas with a fruity flavor. These kinds of teas can be served hot or iced with just a bit of sugar, sweetener, or honey.
You may also find that some black teas don't require any milk or sugar at all. If you're trying a tea for the first time, you should always take a sip first before adding anything in so you can enjoy all of its tones.
5. Drink and enjoy! Now that you know how to brew black tea, you've opened your world to all sorts of fantastic flavors. Be creative and experiment with new tea blends. There's a reason that tea is the beverage of choice around the world!