I’ve been trying to eat and drink healthier over the past while, learning about what types of food and drink do good things for the body. Tea is known to have many healthy properties including antioxidants.
To start drinking more tea, I decided that I need to know how to made the perfect pot of tea. Doing some research, I’ve found what looks to be the best way to brew a cup of tea at home. I have no experience or tools besides the normal things: an electric kettle, simple tea pot, etc.

1. To start with, you have to begin with cold water. Cold water from a soft water tap (or bottled if its hard water) contains more oxygen then water from the hot water tank. Its known that the solubility of oxygen is better in cold water, meaning it holds it better than warm water. Starting with more oxygen can increase the flavour of the tea.

2. If you’re using loose tea leaves, most will have filling instructions. If you are using a mesh tea ball, make sure its only half full, to allow the tea leaves to fully expand in the water.

3. The temperature of the water will depend on the tea type. With black tea, stop the water just after it boils. With more delicate green tea, you should stop the water just before boiling (165-170 degrees F). For either, if you let the water boil too long it loses it’s oxygen and will not taste as good. Take this as a reminder that an electric kettle whistles when its fully boiling, so stop it before that happens!

4. Before steeping the loose leaf tea, wash the tea off a bit with the hot water to wash off the bitter tannins. If you don’t know what tannins are (90% of us, I’m sure), they are a part of the tea that gives it color, some flavour and bitterness. They also mess with your digestion. Its a common ancient tradition to wash the leaves for 1-5 seconds then throw out the water before adding the full pot. Some people swear by this, others don’t care. I leave that up to you.

4.1 With the washing of the leaves, it warms up the teapot which is essential for the tea to maintain a good temp. If you don’t wash, then just pour some boiling water into the pot, swirl then dump out before adding the tea leaves.

5. Steep time depends on the type of tea. Black teas are suggested for 4-5 mins, greens for 3. I’m a fan of really strong tea, so I keep mine steeping a bit longer. A stronger tea is also achieved by using more leaves or bags. As a note, the longer it steeps the more chance it will be bitter.

6. Adding stuff. I drink my tea black. Others need to lighten the bitterness. Honey and lemon juice are the healthy choices, but a little milk will decrease the bitterness. Sugar is also a choice, but just remember tea is supposed to be healthy, so less sugar is better!

7. Try to drink the tea before getting cold. Reheating tea makes it lose the flavour, and nuking it just seems wrong. If you’re going for more than one glass, a teapot is important. Another way is to steep each cup separately. You can use a good loose leaf tea up to 5 times. Steep time should be less after the first cup. The pre-packaged tea is weaker, so use it less.

Note: Reusing tea bags. You can reuse loose leaf tea or tea bags multiple times. If you keep them in an airtight container, they should stay well for a few uses. Personally I’m not to keen about keeping bags for too long. The warming and cooling can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so if the tea is not kept safe, it could lead to growth. This is just my opinion, so don’t take this as fact.

Washing Tea Leaves:  http://steepster.com/discuss/257-washing-or-rinsing-the-tea-leaves

So what are your tea tips? Secrets? Favourite teas?

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