3 Common Tea Brewing Mistakes to Avoid
For newcomers to the world of tea, the art of tea brewing can seem daunting! Much like there are a diverse range of teas out there, so to are there countless methods and techniques used to brew the perfect cup of tea. Rather than try to compile an exhaustive list of everything, I think there are a few key things not to do when brewing good quality tea.
In this post, I share with you 3 common mistakes that many inexperienced tea drinkers commit. Remember to avoid these 3 tea brewing errors. You’ll get the most out of your precious tea leaves!
Tea Brewing Mistake #1: Brewing all teas at the same water temperature
This is a very common mistake which a lot of people are surprised to hear about. However, any tea brewing expert will tell you that every tea has an optimum steeping temperature. Some tea leaves, such as green (including sencha, a personal favourite!), and some types of oolong, can become “bruised” by overly-hot water. This affects the final flavour of the tea. It can destroy the delicate flavour balances present in finer teas. Other teas such as reds/blacks, and herbal tisanes require a piping at-boiling temperature to flourish.
It’s important to know a tea’s optimum steeping temperature when brewing, especially if it’s the first time you’re preparing it. If it’s not marked on the packaging, enquire with the seller. There are also a variety of resources online which can easily be searched.
Tea Brewing Mistake #2: Using Tea Bags over Loose Tea
Most of us probably grew up with our parents or grandparents drinking store-bought bagged tea. It’s a familiar memory from family dinners — preparing orange pekoe tea and coffee with the dessert. Walk in to any grocery store and you’ll see whole aisles of tea bags, including “healthy” brands branded towards weight loss and detoxification. Did you know that by default, bagged tea is the lowest grade of tea? During the processing of tea, the highest grade is selected from the leaves first. The selection successively moves down to more inferior qualities. What’s used in tea bags is the leftover “dust” and scraps.
For this reason, many of tea’s health benefits are lost or reduced in tea bags. To make the most out of your tea, try to avoid buying tea bags. While more pricey, high quality loose tea is packed with beneficial nutrients. It also lasts longer as the leaves can be re-steeped. In the end, it’s worth it to splurge for the highest quality you can afford!
Tea Brewing Mistake #3: Adding Sweeteners to Tea
Again, this mistake might be rooted in memories and family traditions. I have many memories (again, with orange pekoe tea!) of adding generous amounts of sugar (and milk) to my tea. Sugar is bad. Diets high in sugar are linked to a multitude of health problems. Any health benefits you’re hoping to get from drinking tea are negated by the added sugar. It also ruins the natural and complex flavour profile the tea itself can offer.
Avoid adding sugar or other sweeteners to your tea. Learn to appreciate the flavours in the tea. It might take some getting used to, but it’s better for you. You’ll also realize that tea, if prepared correctly, has wonderful and subtle flavour profiles. It’s much more interesting and satisfying than a generic and overwhelming “sweet” taste sugar would provide.
Tea Brewing can be considered an art form. This makes it seem overwhelming and intricate. With time and experience, you’ll learn the perfect technique for your favourite brew. In the meantime, avoid these 3 tea brewing techniques and you’ll be well on your way to mastering it!