A Guide to a Better Cup of Tea
When you reach in the cupboard for your daily cup of tea are you finding something fun, tasty, and easy to brew? Or are you finding a cup of tea that doesn’t excite you, doesn’t taste quite right, or just doesn’t get the job done? There is a really good chance you’re brewing tea that has become “bad” tea because you’ve bought too much of it, the tea wasn’t good tea to begin with, or you aren’t brewing it as well as you can.
Your tea not very tasty? Here’s why…
Almost every tea drinker, whether aspiring or novice or expert, has made one or all of these mistakes in the past. And every one of these mistakes cause your tea to suck.
You bought too much tea
The last time you bought some tea, did you buy only enough to last you until the next trip to the store? Or did you buy enough to last you a year? Buying too much tea is more about understanding how much tea you need over a period of time. Hint: This can cause you to buy “bad” tea as well.
How to know if you bought too much tea? The last time you bought tea, how much tea did you have in your cupboard? How many half filled boxes, pouches, jars of tea are sitting there just hoping you’ll reach for them next? Hmm? I bet you have a few don’t you. Ideally you’re only buying new teas when you’re about to run out of a tea at home. This way you’re always drinking through your supply and not building up a supply of tea just so it can become bad tea later.
You bought bad tea
When I say you bought bad tea, it might not just be that you bought cheap poor quality tea. Or worse, poor quality expensive tea. But you might have also bought more of a specific tea than you could drink before you either got tired of it or it went stale sitting on your shelf.
The first two are easy to fix. Stop buying bad tea just because it is cheap. Cheap tea is cheap for a reason and you can’t make cheap tea great. You might be able to make it good, but that is the best you can hope for. Poor quality expensive tea is something that you can learn to watch out for or you can use one of our tips below to not suck at tea.
But if you bought too much tea and then you turned that tea into a bad tea, you need to stop doing that. You need to pay attention to how much tea you drink in a week. If you drink 2 cups a week and you bought a 20 pack of something fun at the store, it is going to take you 10 weeks to drink that tea if you drink nothing else. If you went crazy and bought 5 different teas you might have enough for a year of tea! STOP DOING THAT.
You can’t brew good tea
There are so many myths and legends about brewing tea, entire books have been written on the topic. I’ll make it simple for you.
If you’re boiling your water, you’re ruining your cup of tea. If your tea is bitter and your tongue dry then you’re either brewing your tea too hot, too long, or with too much tea. Less the last one and more the first two.
If you don’t have a variable temperature water boiler, that is fine, just pour your water into the cup or tea pot before you add the tea to it. Then wait a moment to let the cup or tea pot reach an even outside temperature. Typically by this point the water has lost enough heat that you can add the tea to it without burning the tea.
For time, just start with a two minute steep for any tea you’re new to. You can always add the tea back in for another 30-60 seconds.
And for too much tea, the only advice here is to realize that a Teaspoon and a tsp and a table spoon and a tbsp are NOT THE SAME thing. For a 6 to 8 ounce cup of tea you need between 2 and 3 grams of dry leaf. If you don’t have a scale to weigh the tea out then just pay attention to how much you add vs how much you see used in a pyramid tea bag. Tea isn’t coffee, a little goes further than you’d expect.
How to make a better cup of tea?
There are a few different suggestions that help most tea people to become tea lovers.
- Store your tea in airtight containers that aren’t exposed to much light. Air and light are the top elements that will degrade your tea. A great tea left in an open container for a week in the spice cabinet will become a grade A trash tea.
- Brew your tea at lower temperatures. And if you’re going for an iced tea, use the cold brew method if you have time. Fill a pitcher with water, add a handful of tea bags or half an ounce of loose leaf tea to the water, and leave the pitcher in the fridge overnight. You’ll have a great mello iced tea in about 12 hours.
- Now for the big ones, too much tea and buying bad tea. They tie into each other so often they are almost the same problem. Buy samples. Yes they are more expensive on a per cup of tea basis. But, and this is big, if you aren’t a prolific tea drinker or you don’t know if you like the tea, it is far less wasteful and expensive to buy a sample today. And like the tea, buy more for your cupboard.
Full disclosure, Simple Loose Leaf is a tea company that was started as a subscription service for sampling teas. We focus on growing a tea drinker’s experiences so they know what they like and don’t like. They get a chance to learn if they enjoy South Indian based black teas or if you think a Chinese Sencha is a great deal compared to a Japanese Sencha. For each tea drinker we help them find their own answers to these questions and so much more. If you want to explore with us you can check out our Sampler Membership.