After a long day of working, running errands, cleaning the house and making sure homework is done, I love to sit and savour a cup of tea. It is my nightly ritual.
And while sometimes I take it black, other times with milk and sugar and occasionally with a shot of whisky, there is one thing that never changes, I sit alone and slowly sip on my cup of tea. No interruptions.
I recently had the change to get some much needed tips on tea brewing from Mark Mercier, owner of the Granville Island Tea Company. With 20 years of experience and over 200 varieties of tea, Mark knows his stuff.
Step One: How much to use
Rule of thumb, 1 tsp (2-3 grams) per 6-8 ounce of water. And consider adding “one for the pot” when making larger quantities.
Step Two: Steep with room
Tea needs room to expand when steeping, so choose either a tea bag or a steeper that allows the water to flow through the tea.
Step three: To boil or not boil
You should always use fresh, cold water heated to the appropriate temperature for different teas. There will be a ton of debate on this but our numbers are based on experience of working with customers over close to 20 years of selling tea. Black tea should be heated to 203F. Green tea around 160-170F. Matcha powder tea should be as low as 120F or 50C. Your average herbal tea is good around 180F.
Step four: How long to steep
Very important step! If you brew a full leaf tea longer it does not get stronger it gets sharper (sometimes referred to as bitter). Drinking the tea with or without milk factors in as well. A dust is ready in 1-2 minutes, longer if you like lots of milk in your tea. A full leaf tea is ready in 2-3 minutes. Brewing longer makes teas brighter or more bitter. The less time you steep, the less bright or bitter the flavour.
Step five: Store it away
Store your tea properly. Preferably in an airtight container, no light, no refrigeration. Tea stored this way can potentially last six months maybe longer, although it is loosing fragrance the entire time.
Knowing the basics is where to start. With time you will brew the perfect cup. And just in case you get a call from Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty enjoys nicely brewed Ceylon teas and Lapsang Souchong.