For a tea lover, the ritual of making tea can be an incredibly calming, pleasurable part of the day.
Whether you begin each morning by brewing a revitalizing cup of green tea, keep an assortment of teabags at work for a soothing afternoon treat, or spend the last half-hour before bed reading while sipping some chamomile or another sleep-friendly tea, you'll enjoy the many benefits of making and drinking this wonderfully healthful beverage.
Tea is made simply by adding hot water to loose tea or a teabag, steeping the infusion for the desired amount of time (usually just a few minutes), and then removing the tea leaves or teabag. While the amount of tea and steeping times are a matter of personal taste to the individual tea drinker, each tea type has its unique recommended tea amounts and brewing times for optimum flavor and benefits.
Tea packaging usually provides specific preparation instructions, but, if you need some help in making the perfect cup of tea, use the following guidelines for tea amounts, water temperatures, and steeping times. You'll find some tempting additions below, as well, that may make your tea taste even more delightful.
Of course, these are just guidelines. For a lighter flavor, try the lower suggested amount of loose-leaf tea and brewing time. Or, if you're planning to add some extras, like lemon, honey, or mint, brew your tea just a bit longer.
And don't be afraid to experiment. You may find that you prefer stronger or weaker tea. You may love tea's intricate flavor just as it is, or prefer oolong with a dollop of honey or black tea with a bit of milk or sugar. When you're making tea, what's key is that it tastes just right to you. After all, we're more apt to include good-for-us food and beverages in our days if we enjoy the taste and experience, aren't we? :)
When you're using loose leaves for making tea (rather than a teabag), leave plenty of room for the tea to expand and for the water to flow around the tea, so you can enjoy the full flavor and strength of the tea.
Happily, there are all sorts of tea implements to help.
A large tea ball, fine-mesh infuser, or a steeping cup (complete with lid and filter basket) are convenient options. You may love the ease of disposable filter teabags for making loose-leaf tea. Many teapots come with built-in tea baskets, and a French press also works beautifully for making tea with loose leaves.
Or, why not collect a few pretty vintage or antique silver tea strainers? Add loose tea directly to the teapot, and, after the tea has steeped, pour it through the tea strainer into your cup, and the strainer will catch any loose tea.
To keep loose-leaf tea fresh and flavorful, remember to store it in an airtight package or container in a dark, cool spot.
Herbal teas, which are also called "tisanes," can be infusions or concoctions.
To make an infusion, hot water is added to loose tea or teabags, and the tea is then steeped for the desired amount of time (usually 5 to 10 or even up to 15 minutes or more for herbal teas). Be sure to cover herbal tea while it steeps so as not to lose any of those beneficial elements. And why not wrap it in a pretty tea cozy, too, to keep your tea nice and hot?
A herbal concoction is a better choice when the harder or tougher parts of the plant (such as bark, seeds, or roots) are used to make tea. To make a concoction, combine the tea ingredients with cold, fresh water in a saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil on the stove, and then simmer over low heat until the tea is ready (e.g. 15 - 30 minutes). Strain the mixture and enjoy the tea hot, warm, or cold. Ginger tea, for example, is delectable when made from scratch as a concoction.
| Related: Herbal Tea Benefits
While tea amounts, steeping times, and water temperature are key factors in making a perfect cup of tea, making good-for-you decisions when choosing tea and water for making tea also goes a long way in boosting the flavor, aroma, and benefits of tea.
Then, let those ingredients shine by keeping recommended water temperatures and steeping times in mind for the tea type you've chosen.
If you've been a tea lover for a while, you probably already have favorite tea-making rituals and a much-loved tea stash... If you're just getting to know this amazing beverage, however, you may still be experimenting with tea, figuring out which type (or types) of tea you like best, and how to brew the perfect cup.
Whether you're a tea expert or newbie, if you want more about making tea, drop by our Tea Recipes section to find recipes for tea (hot and iced), as well as topical tea recipes (tea baths, compresses, steams, and so on).
Tea is such an incredible beverage - chock-full of benefits for physical and mental wellness, it can be so very good for us emotionally and socially, too. However you enjoy your tea - hot, iced, made with teabags or loose tea, with milk or without, or even as a teatime illustration that you can color - your body, mind and spirit will thank you.
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