Enjoying a cup of tea is steeped in tradition, from the afternoon tea of the English to the tea ceremony of the Japanese. Next to water, tea is the most commonly consumer beverage in the world.
There are three main types of tea:
- Black tea’s color and aroma develop as the leaves ferment or oxidize during processing. Black tea contains the most caffeine, about 50 to 65 percent of the amount in coffee. Some familiar varieties are Darjeeling, Assam and Ceylon orange pekoe.
- Green tea is pale green in color with a light, fresh flavor. Gunpowder, so named because it’s rolled in little balls that “explode” when they come in contact with water, and Lung Ching are two popular green teas.
- Oolong tea is partially fermented, a cross between green and black teas. You’ll also recognize it as “Chinese restaurant tea.” Imperial oolong is prized for its honey flavor, while Formosa tastes a little like peaches.
Black, green and oolong teas are just the processing methods. There are literally thousands of varieties of teas, including:
- Blended tea: A combination of teas such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
- Decaffeinated tea: Almost all the caffeine is removed during processing.
- Herb tea: Really not a tea because it doesn’t contain tea leaves. It is a blend of dried fruits, herbs, flowers and spices in many flavors such as lemon, orange and peppermint.
Brewing Black of Oolong Tea
- Start with a spotlessly clean teapot. Warm the pot by filling it with very hot water; drain just before adding the tea.
- Bring fresh cold water to a full boil in your teakettle.
- Add tea to the warm teapot, about 1 teaspoon of loose tea or 1 tea bag for each ¾ cup of water. Pour the boiling water over the tea, and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes to bring out the full flavor. Instead of color, judge the strength of the tea by tasting it. Stir the tea once to blend evenly. Remove the tea bags or infuser, or strain the tea as you pour. If you prefer weaker tea, add hot water after brewing the tea. Serve tea with milk, sugar and lemon if you like.
Brewing Green Tea
Green tea is brewed differently that other types of tea. Brew green tea using very hot water, about 170 F to 190 F, not boiling water. If you’ve already boiled the water, let it stand for about 3 minutes before brewing green tea. Sit once to blend evenly.
For clear iced tea, follow these guidelines:
- Brew a pot of tea, using double the amount of tea.
- Remove the tea bags or strain the tea while pouring it into ice-filled glasses or a pitcher.
- If you’re making tea in advance, let it cool to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator so it doesn’t get cloudy.
Because bacteria can multiply during brewing, making sun tea isn’t recommended.