I gave Nessa a hard time yesterday about her tea bags, suggesting she run out and snag some loose leaves, stat! I'm a tea snob and willing to help, so you're about to get schooled. Sure, I may get called a royal sissy after this post, especially after admitting to sipping cherry blossom green tea.
All tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The tea's type and flavor is determined by how the leaves are processed and aged after being harvested from farms in China, India and Japan.
There are six types of tea and one pretend tea. From light to dark, they are: white, yellow, green, oolong, black and puerh. Lighter teas have a low amount of caffeine, mild flavor and the highest stash of antioxidants. Darker teas have a higher amount of caffeine (but less than coffee), stronger flavor and fewer antioxidants. Herbal contains no tea leaves, it's a potpourri of plants and herbs.
I like em' all but black and herbal.
Do me a favor and pitch that sack of tea bags lurking in your cupboard. You want loose leaves. More expensive, but the improvement in taste and smoothness is ridiculous. I like Gong Fu, a friendly small business that hocks 150 varieties.
You'll need a boiling kettle, teapot, strainer and temp gauge to do her right. A Japanese Beehouse serves my habit.
Brew Baby, Brew!
Pay attention to water temp and brew time, otherwise you'll end up with a bitter pot of suckiness. Lighter teas like a lower temp and time, darker teas the opposite.
Let's make some milk oolong, a medium tea with a creamy aftertaste.
1. Filtered water is best, I use a Brita to weed out the cooties.
2. Watch water boil.
3. Transfer the hot water from kettle to teapot. Insert gauge into hole and let her cool before adding the tea leaves. Oolong likes 3 minutes at 208. Different teas require different time and temp.
4. A little tea goes a long way, one teaspoon is plenty strong for a 24 oz. pot. Toss in the strainer, add a teaspoon of leaves and start the timer.
5. Time's up, pull the strainer. If you don't remove the tea, it gets bitter. Most types of tea can be re-steeped a couple times, so don't throw it out just yet.