How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

Tea being pouredFrom its origins in China thousands of years ago, tea has now become the most popular beverage to be consumed worldwide, and today there are so many exciting tea choices available – a whole world of tea to explore.

Whatever type of tea you choose, it's important to know how best to brew it to fully appreciate the unique characteristics and delicate flavours contained within its leaves. Although methods of brewing tea can vary as to type of tea and personal taste, there are a few guidelines to go by:

Loose-leaf teas have several advantages over commercially bought tea bags: they are superior in flavour and quality, and are also better value as the leaves can usually be re-steeped. They can be infused in various ways, but using a teapot is a popular choice. A tea strainer will be needed to strain the leaves, unless the teapot includes its own infuser. Tea mug infusers can be used, or there are a variety of small infusing devices available. Self-fill teabags can also be purchased, such as Tea-Direct.co.uk's Fill Your Own Tea Bags, that make it easy to brew a single cup.

Teapots or other vessels used for steeping should first be warmed by rinsing round with hot water. A general rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon (5 ml) of loose-leaf tea per cup required, although the more delicate teas and herbal infusions may require more. Water for steeping should be freshly boiled. Tap water can be used, but preferably after being filtered, particularly in hard water areas. Bottled spring water is another option, and is thought to bring out the best flavours in tea, although mineral water may contain levels of minerals that can affect taste.

White and green teas have delicate leaves, so water used for steeping should not be fully boiled as the leaves may burn and taste bitter; the more robust teas, such as black, red and oolong are better able to withstand boiling water. Care must be taken not to over-steep, as the tea may taste bitter or stewed. Black teas are usually steeped for 2-6 minutes at temperatures between 90ºC-99ºC (194ºF-210ºF); white teas are best steeped for 1-3 minutes between 80ºC-85ºC (176ºF-185ºF); green teas for 1-4 minutes between 66ºC-85ºC (150ºF-185ºF); and oolong teas for 2-5 minutes between 85ºC-96ºC (185ºF-205ºF). With herbal teas and fruit tisanes, it's more a matter of taste as to how long they should be steeped; anything from 2-10 minutes is considered normal. Water used should not be hotter than 96ºC-100ºC (205ºF-212ºF).

All it needs now is to pour, sit back and enjoy! And if you're feeling adventurous and want to explore more, browse through our entire collection of wonderful teas, sourced from all over the world. At Tea-Direct.co.uk we use a talented group of buyers to secure high quality traditional teas at the very best prices, along with rare teas and infusions that you simply won't find elsewhere.