Tea (rec.drink.tea) Discussion relating to tea, the world's second most consumed beverage (after water), made by infusing or boiling the leaves of the tea plant (C. sinensis or close relatives) in water.

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Default Brewing Tea - Water, Temperature, and Time

I just finished writing this for my blog (teasphere.wordpress.com) and
thought it would be useful here possibly. I'd also be happy to take
comments/criticisms or additions. i get a lot of questions about
actually brewing tea and most people are intimidated and don't even
know where to begin or go by the numbers on the package or a website
and get discouraged. Often sites and packages will grossly overstate
the amount of tea to be used as is the case with coffee to keep sales
up, but not to produce the best tea always. I had a conversation
earlier that sparked me to write the following piece as a basic
introduction which can be built on and fine tuned later, but would be
enough to get someone started in the right direction:



I realize that to many tea brewing begins and ends with dunking a
teabag into a mug of variably tepid/boiling water for an indeterminate
amount of time and then adding in sugar and/or milk to mask the acrid
brew that was just unleashed. I cringe when I see folks at cafes get
handed a cup full of improperly heated water with a single-use tea
strainer/bag in it and that is where it remains for the duration of
the drink. No wonder people don't get tea or think it needs to be
doctored up in myriad ways to become palatable. There are other
extremes of thermometers and timers and digital scales too, but as
with anything, there is a balance. This post is meant to be a primer,
not the final master class, and I plan to continue to cover this in
increasing depth to help everyone realize that there is so much more
to the world of tea and that it isn't hard.

Water, Temperature, and Time

Water is one of the most important parts of the whole equation. You
want to make sure the water is absent of any flavors or chemicals.
Water that is poured from the little orange/red spout from coffee
machines might be filtered but it also may have some hints of the
coffee present. Water straight from a tap might have chlorine or
sulphur. There are many options but two inexpensive options are to buy
a simple faucet-mounted filter (Pur, Dupont, Brita, etc.) or buy the
1, 3, or 5-gallon jugs or containers of spring water. Starting with a
solid foundation is the only way to get a great final result.

Temperature can make the same tea brewed the same way taste completely
different. Sometimes this range is a good thing and can allow for a
range of flavors from the same leaf, sometimes too much heat can
destroy a delicate tea. This is a topic that entire books could be
written about, so what we are aiming for here is just a good reference
point and we will dig into it in more detail in the future. There are
also debates on how the water is heated: microwave, gas stove,
electric kettle, etc. And while there is some merit to some of these
arguments, for right now the method will be ignored and we will just
focus on the final water temperature no matter how it got that way.

The basic rule goes like this:

Black tea - full boiling water or just off boil at the least

Oolong tea - small bubbles/almost boiling or boiling water that has
been allowed to cool for a minute or so

Green tea - hot but not boiling, allow boiled water to cool for a few
minutes before using. You should be able to touch the water without
suffering a burn, not literally but as an illustration of the temp we
are going for here.

Tisanes/Herbal tea - full boiling water, the hotter the better. This
is not tea and as such you are trying to extract everything you can
from the herb/flower.

As you can see, the one-size-fits-all orange/red coffee machine lever
is not useful for almost anything but green tea and some oolongs. So
if you are at a cafe or situation (like an office) where this is the
only option, your best bet is to select a green tea or oolong and just
make do.

Time is the other important piece in this equation. Again some teas
allow for some variation here and will offer up different flavors and
complexities depending on how short or long it is steeped, some will
become undrinkable (bitter or astringent) if left for too long. Each
particular tea within a larger category (green, black, etc.) will have
an optimal time and temperature but again we are setting up the basics
here.

I start from 30-45 seconds to about 1-2 minutes and an occasional tea
will work well with 3-5 minutes, herbal/tisanes always go 3-5 minutes.
Start shorter and then try longer brews and find your particular sweet
spot for the specific tea. Some do well with even longer 3-5 minute
brewings, some become bitter and too strong. It is all about what
tastes good to YOU, not what a package or "expert" states is correct.
With the right water and temperature, you can experiment on time to
find what works for you... but leaving the tea in the cup for 5+
minutes until you finish it is not really the proper solution for ANY
tea.

Quality tea makes a huge difference as well as does the amount used.
Start with a solid teaspoon's worth of leaf if in doubt and adjust
from there to your taste.

Enjoy!

- Dominic
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Default Brewing Tea - Water, Temperature, and Time

I always tell people if they can boil water they can make tea. They
can learn the variables later.

Jim

On Oct 15, 11:29 am, "Dominic T." > wrote:
> I just finished writing this for my blog (teasphere.wordpress.com) and
> thought it would be useful here possibly. I'd also be happy to take
> comments/criticisms or additions. i get a lot of questions about
> actually brewing tea and most people are intimidated and don't even
> know where to begin or go by the numbers on the package or a website
> and get discouraged. Often sites and packages will grossly overstate
> the amount of tea to be used as is the case with coffee to keep sales
> up, but not to produce the best tea always. I had a conversation
> earlier that sparked me to write the following piece as a basic
> introduction which can be built on and fine tuned later, but would be
> enough to get someone started in the right direction:
>
> I realize that to many tea brewing begins and ends with dunking a
> teabag into a mug of variably tepid/boiling water for an indeterminate
> amount of time and then adding in sugar and/or milk to mask the acrid
> brew that was just unleashed. I cringe when I see folks at cafes get
> handed a cup full of improperly heated water with a single-use tea
> strainer/bag in it and that is where it remains for the duration of
> the drink. No wonder people don't get tea or think it needs to be
> doctored up in myriad ways to become palatable. There are other
> extremes of thermometers and timers and digital scales too, but as
> with anything, there is a balance. This post is meant to be a primer,
> not the final master class, and I plan to continue to cover this in
> increasing depth to help everyone realize that there is so much more
> to the world of tea and that it isn't hard.
>
> Water, Temperature, and Time
>
> Water is one of the most important parts of the whole equation. You
> want to make sure the water is absent of any flavors or chemicals.
> Water that is poured from the little orange/red spout from coffee
> machines might be filtered but it also may have some hints of the
> coffee present. Water straight from a tap might have chlorine or
> sulphur. There are many options but two inexpensive options are to buy
> a simple faucet-mounted filter (Pur, Dupont, Brita, etc.) or buy the
> 1, 3, or 5-gallon jugs or containers of spring water. Starting with a
> solid foundation is the only way to get a great final result.
>
> Temperature can make the same tea brewed the same way taste completely
> different. Sometimes this range is a good thing and can allow for a
> range of flavors from the same leaf, sometimes too much heat can
> destroy a delicate tea. This is a topic that entire books could be
> written about, so what we are aiming for here is just a good reference
> point and we will dig into it in more detail in the future. There are
> also debates on how the water is heated: microwave, gas stove,
> electric kettle, etc. And while there is some merit to some of these
> arguments, for right now the method will be ignored and we will just
> focus on the final water temperature no matter how it got that way.
>
> The basic rule goes like this:
>
> Black tea - full boiling water or just off boil at the least
>
> Oolong tea - small bubbles/almost boiling or boiling water that has
> been allowed to cool for a minute or so
>
> Green tea - hot but not boiling, allow boiled water to cool for a few
> minutes before using. You should be able to touch the water without
> suffering a burn, not literally but as an illustration of the temp we
> are going for here.
>
> Tisanes/Herbal tea - full boiling water, the hotter the better. This
> is not tea and as such you are trying to extract everything you can
> from the herb/flower.
>
> As you can see, the one-size-fits-all orange/red coffee machine lever
> is not useful for almost anything but green tea and some oolongs. So
> if you are at a cafe or situation (like an office) where this is the
> only option, your best bet is to select a green tea or oolong and just
> make do.
>
> Time is the other important piece in this equation. Again some teas
> allow for some variation here and will offer up different flavors and
> complexities depending on how short or long it is steeped, some will
> become undrinkable (bitter or astringent) if left for too long. Each
> particular tea within a larger category (green, black, etc.) will have
> an optimal time and temperature but again we are setting up the basics
> here.
>
> I start from 30-45 seconds to about 1-2 minutes and an occasional tea
> will work well with 3-5 minutes, herbal/tisanes always go 3-5 minutes.
> Start shorter and then try longer brews and find your particular sweet
> spot for the specific tea. Some do well with even longer 3-5 minute
> brewings, some become bitter and too strong. It is all about what
> tastes good to YOU, not what a package or "expert" states is correct.
> With the right water and temperature, you can experiment on time to
> find what works for you... but leaving the tea in the cup for 5+
> minutes until you finish it is not really the proper solution for ANY
> tea.
>
> Quality tea makes a huge difference as well as does the amount used.
> Start with a solid teaspoon's worth of leaf if in doubt and adjust
> from there to your taste.
>
> Enjoy!
>
> - Dominic

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Default Brewing Tea - Water, Temperature, and Time

On Oct 16, 8:01*am, Space Cowboy > wrote:
> I always tell people if they can boil water they can make tea. *They
> can learn the variables later.
>
> Jim


Agreed, but often in cafes they simply plunk in the tea bag(s) or the
loose tea and offer no instruction to the customer or even a place to
put the tea once it has brewed to the desired strength... which makes
people believe it is meant to be left in. That was the conversation I
had had which prompted me to write this. A woman asks the woman behind
the counter how long she should let her tea steep and the answer was
"oh, just leave it in, it's fine" Followed by a couple minutes later
the customer walking back up with the cup stating that it was way too
bitter to drink. Not offering any info the worker just tossed it out
and simply handed her another one. Both were frustrated.

I was sitting near the customer so I simply asked what kind of tea she
had chosen, it was a black tea and I noticed they had used about 4
Tablespoons of leaf both times which could have brewed a pot or three
not a small cup. So I said with that much tea try like 30 seconds to a
minute and set the tea strainer on a spare lid. She was thankful to
just get some instruction and enjoyed the tea. People just need some
basics and they can go from there, but with every tea in these places
being treated like they are all the same it's impossible for people to
get even a decent representation of what it should be.

I think we take a lot for granted at times, I know my first struggles
all surrounded around combating bitterness and astringency but I had
no idea that each tea was different and that wasn't the only goal, to
not produce some bitter/acrid cup. Just a nudge beyond that point
opens up a level of comfort and enjoyment which is the first and last
barrier to many people getting into tea. I've seen it with friends and
family, they just need some starting point beyond just boiling water
and tossing the tea in.

- Dominic

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Default Brewing Tea - Water, Temperature, and Time

I had the opposite experience recently. Im over at a guys house where
I would guess he is using 25g of tea where 5g would do. I didnt say
anything because he is active in a tea blog so I let it pass. I saw
him later and he said he got some scales because he was using too much
tea. I would have said the British use cream and sugar to tame the
bitter taste the way you just made it. I to this day who use to catch
crab on the gulf coast dont know if I am suppose to eat the mushy
stuff in the shell. Even if we use the right parameters does that
guarantee an appreciation of tea. I try to suggest that selecting tea
is like hunter gathering. Let your instincts guide you. Its an
adventure. I think this more important than parameters which sort
themselves out.

Jim

PS I know what you are saying but probably too late for people who
dont even get to the parameters which means Im talking about something
else.

On Oct 16, 7:30 am, "Dominic T." > wrote:
> On Oct 16, 8:01 am, Space Cowboy > wrote:
>
> > I always tell people if they can boil water they can make tea. They
> > can learn the variables later.

>
> > Jim

>
> Agreed, but often in cafes they simply plunk in the tea bag(s) or the
> loose tea and offer no instruction to the customer or even a place to
> put the tea once it has brewed to the desired strength... which makes
> people believe it is meant to be left in. That was the conversation I
> had had which prompted me to write this. A woman asks the woman behind
> the counter how long she should let her tea steep and the answer was
> "oh, just leave it in, it's fine" Followed by a couple minutes later
> the customer walking back up with the cup stating that it was way too
> bitter to drink. Not offering any info the worker just tossed it out
> and simply handed her another one. Both were frustrated.
>
> I was sitting near the customer so I simply asked what kind of tea she
> had chosen, it was a black tea and I noticed they had used about 4
> Tablespoons of leaf both times which could have brewed a pot or three
> not a small cup. So I said with that much tea try like 30 seconds to a
> minute and set the tea strainer on a spare lid. She was thankful to
> just get some instruction and enjoyed the tea. People just need some
> basics and they can go from there, but with every tea in these places
> being treated like they are all the same it's impossible for people to
> get even a decent representation of what it should be.
>
> I think we take a lot for granted at times, I know my first struggles
> all surrounded around combating bitterness and astringency but I had
> no idea that each tea was different and that wasn't the only goal, to
> not produce some bitter/acrid cup. Just a nudge beyond that point
> opens up a level of comfort and enjoyment which is the first and last
> barrier to many people getting into tea. I've seen it with friends and
> family, they just need some starting point beyond just boiling water
> and tossing the tea in.
>
> - Dominic

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Default Brewing Tea - Water, Temperature, and Time

On Oct 16, 10:20*am, Space Cowboy > wrote:
> I had the opposite experience recently. *Im over at a guys house where
> I would guess he is using 25g of tea where 5g would do. *I didnt say
> anything because he is active in a tea blog so I let it pass. *I saw
> him later and he said he got some scales because he was using too much
> tea. *I would have said the British use cream and sugar to tame the
> bitter taste the way you just made it. *I to this day who use to catch
> crab on the gulf coast dont know if I am suppose to eat the mushy
> stuff in the shell. *Even if we use the right parameters does that
> guarantee an appreciation of tea. *I try to suggest that selecting tea
> is like hunter gathering. *Let your instincts guide you. *Its an
> adventure. *I think this more important than parameters which sort
> themselves out.
>
> Jim


Yes, many people don't even make it to that point which is what I'd
like to address. I know once I've given these very basic instructions
to family/friends they always end up enjoying tea more... they may
never progress or care to but it at least lets them in and opens up
the potential for further exploration.

Ans yes you can eat the stuff in the shell, not the grayish "lungs",
but the yellow/green/brown gunk which goes by many names in many
cultures... many claim it is the best part. I don't personally buy it,
but I did have it prepared once and on top of a small piece of crusty
bread which was very good... still not my idea of a good time. My
grandmother would fight you for it even at 93+ however.

- Dominic


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Default Brewing Tea - Water, Temperature, and Time

I guess it is a function of how much you paid for the crab. Since for
us it was free we skipped that part. I never wanted to know what the
crab was digesting if that is what crustaceans do. We also didnt eat
that part in crawdads.

Jim

On Oct 16, 8:41 am, "Dominic T." > wrote:
> On Oct 16, 10:20 am, Space Cowboy > wrote:
> > I to this day who use to catch
> > crab on the gulf coast dont know if I am suppose to eat the mushy
> > stuff in the shell.

>
>
> Ans yes you can eat the stuff in the shell, not the grayish "lungs",
> but the yellow/green/brown gunk which goes by many names in many
> cultures... many claim it is the best part. I don't personally buy it,
> but I did have it prepared once and on top of a small piece of crusty
> bread which was very good... still not my idea of a good time. My
> grandmother would fight you for it even at 93+ however.
>
> - Dominic

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Default Brewing Tea - Water, Temperature, and Time

"British tea" - CTC tea from India and East Africa should never be
bitter however it is made - but it certainly should be astringent.
From UK Tea Council stats - only 30% of tea drinkers use sugar; 98%
use milk - I have never in my long life ever seen anyone in the UK use
cream - that's the Friesians across the North Sea.

Nigel at Teacraft

On Oct 16, 2:20*pm, Space Cowboy > wrote:
> I had the opposite experience recently. *Im over at a guys house where
> I would guess he is using 25g of tea where 5g would do. *I didnt say
> anything because he is active in a tea blog so I let it pass. *I saw
> him later and he said he got some scales because he was using too much
> tea. *I would have said the British use cream and sugar to tame the
> bitter taste the way you just made it.

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Default Brewing Tea - Water, Temperature, and Time

They call it Devonshire clotted cream. It is generally agreed in the
food industry caffeine is the taste sensation bitter. We always have
this discussion.

Jim

On Nov 4, 1:32 am, Nigel > wrote:
> "British tea" - CTC tea from India and East Africa should never be
> bitter however it is made - but it certainly should be astringent.
> From UK Tea Council stats - only 30% of tea drinkers use sugar; 98%
> use milk - I have never in my long life ever seen anyone in the UK use
> cream - that's the Friesians across the North Sea.
>
> Nigel at Teacraft
>
> On Oct 16, 2:20 pm, Space Cowboy > wrote:
>
> > I had the opposite experience recently. Im over at a guys house where
> > I would guess he is using 25g of tea where 5g would do. I didnt say
> > anything because he is active in a tea blog so I let it pass. I saw
> > him later and he said he got some scales because he was using too much
> > tea. I would have said the British use cream and sugar to tame the
> > bitter taste the way you just made it.


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