Tips for Tea

January is National Hot Tea Month and local master tea blender Dave DeCandia of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has created a list of tips to brew the perfect cup of tea.
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Many people make simple mistakes while brewing that limit the robust flavors of tea blends. By following these tips, you'll be sure to experience the layered flavors of tea blends.

  • Water temperature: Never use boiling water to make tea -- it burns the tea leaves and diminishes the flavor. Ideally you want the water to be between 185 and 190 degrees. If you've let the kettle start to boil, let the water sit for 30 seconds so the water cools slightly.
  • Amount of tea: Use one tea bag per one to two cups of water, or for loose tea use one teaspoon of tea leaves for every cup. Never reuse a tea bag -- the flavor will have been used in the first cup.
  • Steeping: Exactly how long you should steep your tea depends on the type of tea. However, most teas begin tasting bitter after seven minutes of steeping. Steep green tea for about three minutes, oolong and black teas for about five minutes, and herbal teas for about seven minutes. Remove the tea bag immediately after use to avoid burning the leaves -- this will make the tea taste bitter. Remember that tea bags take less time to brew than loose tea leaves.
  • Strength: Some people like strong tea. The best way to make strong tea is, "Add more tea, not time." Steeping the tea for more time will only reduce the flavor, not increase the strength.
  • Additions: When adding both lemon and sugar, add the sugar first. If the lemon is added first, the citric acid will prevent the sugar from dissolving. Cream should not be added to tea as it interferes with the taste but personal preferences vary.

Originally published on, January 2009.


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