I find a lot of arguably mean things funny, but there’s a special place in my heart for hardcore hipsters who insist they love tea despite having no idea how to brew it and just choking down that hot bitter disaster while insisting it’s God’s gift to man
My man Tanser over here gulping back scalding mugs of $40/oz organic loose leaf white tea that he steeped for half an hour before his holistic underwater basket weaving course at Lord Wiffleton’s Combination Waffle House And Taco Bell: I dunno I just prefer it over coffee I guess I’m just different
Okay, I’m getting questions so here’s what’s up.
Y'all are thinking of the water as n ingredient- what you gotta do is think of it like an oven.
Think about baking cookies- you can have all the best ingredients, all the perfect measurements, all the right consistency- but if the oven is too hot or you leave the dough in for the wrong amount of time, you don’t have cookies, you have sludge or charcoal.
With tea, the water is the oven.
White and green teas are delicate and prone to scalding- IE, the cookies burn easy. Put the water to a low boil, with small bubbles- tiny, like pinheads- and pour the water onto your leaves in the teapot to steep for 1-2 minutes- one teaspoon of tea per cup of water. Then strain the tea without squeezing the leaves- squeezing and crushing releases more of the natural tannins, which are healthy for you but taste bitter.
Likewise, the shape of the leaf can alter the taste- whole leaf teas are more expensive and take longer to steep, but have a subtle, pleasant taste that can have a lot of layers to it.
Read which are granular and crushed up are called Fannings- they’re typically cheaper, as they’re the castings that come from whole leaf tea processing, and they steep faster, but they also turn bitter easily and cloud the tea’s color. Fannings usually have a strong, bold flavour compared to whole leaf variations, but lack complexity.
Next are oolong teas- oolong teas come from the same plant as white and green teas, as well as black tea. The difference between the four is the oxidization of the plant- the Tea plant.
Oxidization is the process that causes the leaf to change color- white teas are the least oxidized and black teas are the most oxidized.
An oolong is a tea leaf that isn’t quite oxidized enough to be called a black tea. It usually has a reddish color to it, and can steep any color from amber to deep red. It also has a good but of caffeine in it, and a more bitter taste than green or white tea. I personally enjoy oolongs because the ones sold in my area tend to have a sort of woodsy-fireplace kind of taste.
To prepare an oolong, take one teaspoon of leaf per cup of water, and bring your water to a medium boil- the bubbles should be the size of the tip of your finger, no bigger. Pour the water onto the leaf and steep for 3-5 minutes.
Again, be sure not to squeeze the leaves while straining.
Black tea is the most oxidized leaf, and also contains the highest concentration of caffeine.
Black tea is also sturdy and hard to bruise, so to prepare it, you can bring the water to a full rolling boil and steep it around 4-5 minutes.
Black teas also tastes the most bitter of all the variations I’ve listed, so be aware of that. Depending on how they’re processed, though, they can have a wide range of warm, smoky flavors.
The darker the leaf, the longer it usually needs to steep, and the more bitter it is, but the more caffeine it has.
The smaller the leaf, the cheaper, faster, and stronger the flavor, but also less subtle the taste.
Good green teas are typically bright, vibrant green.
White tea, contrary to the name, produces pale yellowish or greenish tea.
Herbal teas are 1 to 1.5 teaspoons per cup of water, at a rolling boil, and should usually steep at Least 5 minutes.
Again, contrary to the name, Herbal Tea isn’t technically Tea, as it doesn’t actually contain Leaves from the Tea plant- these are called tisanes by detail-oriented nerds like me.
Herbal teas can be made of anything from dried fruits to flowers to vegetables, spices, and garden herbs, and don’t have any caffeine unless intentionally added.
Herbal tea also doesn’t release the tannins that green, oolong, and black do, so it doesn’t typically turn bitter with time.
Do be careful not to steep too long, though, because it can turn too strong and pungent to drink.
Each tea blend is different, and is specifically designed to be prepared a certain way to get the intended taste, so these guidelines will vary from tea to tea, but the important thing is that you find something you genuinely enjoy.
It doesn’t matter if what you like is some fancy expensive matcha or a cheap dollar store chai; as long as you enjoy it, there’s no wrong choice.
To beat the metaphor: Please don’t force yourself to eat burnt cookies!
Enjoy what you put in your food hole
Also be aware that most loose-leaf teas can be brewed several times, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t, especially if it’s a spendy tea) toss the brewed leaves out after the first infusion. Set them aside in your strainer and brew them at the same temperature, but possibly a little longer, to taste. The second and subsequent brews may be a little milder than the first, but still lovely. Toss the used leaves when they no longer please you.