how to make a perfect cup of tea

Did you know that all six different types of tea (white, yellow, green, oolong, black and pu-erh) all need to be brewed at different temperatures for different time periods to achieve optimal flavour? Good teas should never taste bitter!

The great thing about loose leaf tea is that you can make it according to your own taste preferences - but knowing how to achieve the best flavours from tea leaves definitely helps! So for those of you craving a cup at work or on the go, I’ve created some simple steps to making tea without the fancy gadgets and teaware. Read below to get over your fear of brewing loose leaf!

The four simple steps to steeping
Making loose leaf tea on the go is much easier than you think. Following are my tips for making a great tasting cup of tea anywhere, anytime and without the hassle of thermometers or fancy teapots:

  1. Measure out about one tablespoon of loose leaf per cup (a teaspoon will do if the tea leaves are tightly rolled and a bit more if they are large and flat). Although many websites will recommend one teaspoon per cup, I don't think this is enough if you are trying to fill a mug at work for instance.

  1. If you’re at work and don’t have any tea accessories, then you may want to buy some on-the-go tea filters to put your leaves in, a metal strainer or even a durable plastic travel-size tea ‘mug’ with filter. Most tea retailers will have these items available either in-store or online beginning at around $10 for strainers. Remember any product that allows your tea leaves the room to fully expand when brewing, means even more flavour in your cup.

  1. Boiling water will make most teas turn bitter. Different tea leaves need to be steeped at different water temperatures but here’s an easy way to detect what temp your water’s at without a thermometer:
White and Japanese green tea- boil water and allow to rest for 5 minutes before steeping. Water temperature should be around 70C. Steep white tea leaves for about 3 minutes or to taste. Japanese greens can be steeped for less time, about 1-2 minutes or to taste.

Chinese green and yellow tea- bring water to a boil and rest for 3 minutes. Water temperature should be around 80C. Steep leaves for 2-3 minutes.

Oolong tea- bring water to a boil and allow to rest for 2 minutes. Water temperature should be around 90C. If you are using rolled oolong, then you should pour hot water over the leaves and immediately drain before your first steeping. Oolong can steep anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Black tea- bring water to a boil and allow to rest for 1 minute. Water temperature should be around 95C. Steep 3-5 minutes.

Pu-erh tea- use boiling water at 100C. Rinse the leaves with boiling water and immediately discard. Then steep initially for about 30 seconds and re-steep continuously for longer periods.

Generally speaking, always use boiling water for herbal teas (tisanes) and steep about 5 minutes.

  1. Allowing leaves to sit in water past the recommended  brewing time will make your tea turn bitter. Always remember to either pour your tea from your teapot or take out your tea leaves once you've allowed it to brew for the recommended time period.

  5.  Relax and enjoy!