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QTrade Teas & Herbs provides specialty teas, herbs, spices, custom blending, product development, and private label services to businesses all over the world. We are the largest importer of organic teas in North America, with an expanding selection of flowers, fruits, and berries. (949) 766-0070 www.qtradeteas.com

Tea Basics 103: How to Make a Cup of Tea

“How do you make a perfect cup of tea?”

Though we have worked with tea for decades we still find this question difficult to answer. Every culture on earth has a different way of preparing tea.  Some prefer lots of sugar or milk, while others find the idea adding anything to tea repugnant. Some like it hot, some like it iced.

Add to this the myriad of regional, family, and personal preferences and it is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the possibilities.

There are, however, a few factors that can contribute to or detract from the tastiness of a quality cuppa. Making a perfect cup of tea basically comes down to three things: Tea, Temperature, & Time.

Tea – “Are all teas the same?”

As discussed in a previous post there are five basic varieties of tea: white tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, and pu’erh tea.  Each variety of tea has a different personality due to its oxidation level. Black teas are different from white teas, white teas are different from oolong teas and so on. The same variety of tea can be further distinguished by other factors, like the soil it was grown in, how tightly the leaves are rolled, or the altitude at which it was plucked. Generally speaking, the quantity and variety of tea that you have will determine the temperature and time you use. We  recommend about a teaspoon of tea per 6oz cup.

Temperature – “How hot is too hot?”

Temperature is a tricky thing to regulate. Unless you have an electric tea kettle it’s almost impossible to tell what the temperature of your water is. This can be problematic, because it is very possible to “over brew” or “burn” your tea by scalding it in water that is too hot for too long. The conventional wisdom that says  you should only steep your tea in boiling water is sadly mistaken here. We would recommend that you purchase a handy gizmo like a Zojirushi for preparing tea at cooler temperatures (see below for temperature recommendations).

Time – “How do I know if my tea is ready?”

The answer to this question usually comes down to a combination of the previous two factors. If you steep your tea for too long the tea will generally develop a “sour” quality that “buzzes” in the mouth. This is known in the industry as “astringency.”  If you don’t steep for long enough then the tea will lack a “full-bodied” flavor and taste weak or watery.  Below are some general suggestions according to the variety of tea you are brewing.

General Guidelines 

The following are general guidelines originally published by the Specialty Tea Institute of North America:

Black – 4 to 5 minutes at a temperature of 200-212 degrees Fahrenheit

Oolong – 4 to 7 minutes at a temperature of 195- 205 degrees Fahrenheit

Green – 2 to 3 minutes at a temperature of 170 -190 degrees Fahrenheit

White – 3 to 6 minutes at a temperature of 170- 190 degrees Fahrenheit

Pu’erh 1 to 10 minutes at a temperature of 205- 212 degrees Fahrenheit

Stay tuned for future posts that dig deeper into the question of how we cup teas professionally here at QTrade.

Have questions about this post?  Suggestions for future posts?

Please leave us a comment below!

www.QTradeTeas.com | (949) 766-0070 | info@qtradeteas.com
16205 Distribution Way Cerritos, CA 90703 USA| www.TeazeInfuser.com

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2 Comments on “Tea Basics 103: How to Make a Cup of Tea”

  1. Richard September 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Thanks, this is great info to share. So many people don’t know about the fact that different teas have to be prepared in different ways.

    • QTrade Teas and Herbs September 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

      So true. And what we wrote here barely scratches the surface when it comes to preparing tea. Thanks for helping us spread the word Richard!

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