I don’t cover that many back to basics themes but in this I’ll explain ten ways to improve an approach to brewing tea.
- Ditch the tea bags and drink better tea
Tea in tea bags is typically terrible; low quality, ground-up dust. Sticking with an old favorite brand is fine but in the end that usually amounts to drinking bad tea.
Beyond tea bags, loose teas vary a lot. In general, if a tea looks ground up (as CTC, crush-tear-curl automated processed teas are, or just broken orthodox versions can be) then the brewed tea won’t be very good. It’s difficult to summarize what makes up “good tea,” since that can mean a range of different things. Paying more is no guarantee, and not all vendors can probably even tell the difference themselves. The look of a website or physical shop tends to not mean much either. You have to go through a learning curve to judge for yourself.
- Don’t use boiling point water for green tea
Simple enough. Preferences could vary, and for different green teas different temperatures would work best (per individual preference), but dropping down to something like 75 C / 170 F for most green teas works much better, for most people. Even lower for some Japanese green versions; it’s best to experiment a bit and read around.
- Don’t trust bloggers or vendors for input
So much for the rest of this list, right? More than half the people offering advice about tea online–vendors included–know very little about tea, and haven’t experienced much for varying parameters, checking out different versions, even trying very high-quality tea, looking into background research, etc. Even what I say should be taken with a grain of salt, to some extent. Most input really would be helpful, it all just needs to be screened.
- About infuser devices
I tend to de-emphasize this factor but brewing devices are a critical aspect. For Western style brewing (the teaspoon per cup approach) it seems to not matter as much; you could use a ceramic teapot, infuser basket, gravity device (similar to a drip coffee maker in design), or even a French press, and results wouldn’t vary much. Some people brew green teas in a glass to see them swirl, which also works out using specialized tea bottles / tumblers, and those also travel well. Covering a tea while brewing probably makes a difference; volatile components that make up the flavors could evaporate off otherwise.
To be continued tomorrow
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