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How to make tea

We seem to have forgotten how to make tea - whether it's the result of a lack of time or trying unsuccessfully to extract some flavour from tea bags.

Why is this? Is brewing tea an art form that requires an indulgent muse or a sacrifice to some un-named tea god? Or is proper tea brewing the product of military discipline or a Zen-like calm? Actually, all it needs is a little patience, some good quality tea, clean water and to follow some basic rules.

The key in making tea is (as in everything) to practice, practice and practice again.

A ROUGH GUIDE TO TEA MAKING

At Steenbergs Organic, we follow our golden tea-making rules:

  1. Fill the kettle with freshly-drawn cold water which is well mixed with oxygen (boiled water has lost its oxygen). Oxygen is vital to bring out the taste and aroma
  2. Fill the tea-pot with boiling water, to warm the tea-pot and so prevent the brew from cooling too quickly then pour out as more water comes to the boil
  3. Measure the organic tea carefully  - for strong organic Fairtrade tea, use 1 teaspoon per person and 1 for the pot; for large leaf organic Fairtrade teas, ½ teaspoon per person is ideal (or see our more detailed charts below)
  4. Fill the kettle with more freshly-drawn cold water, pour away warm water in tea-pot and pour the new water into the pot as it boils, because off-the-boil water makes very dull tea. Infuse for 5 minutes (see below). A quick brew never gets the full flavour from the organic tea leaves, whereas a long brew is astringent
  5. Add milk first, because milk dissolves better in hotter liquid
  6. Ceramic and china teapots keep warmer for longer and don't taint the organic tea. Even better are cast iron tea pots, although they are a bit expensive. Never ever bleach the teapot
  7. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

STEENBERGS' TEA BREWING CHARTS

Here is Axel Steenberg's legendary quick bluffers guide to everything about making organic Fairtrade tea:

Tea type

Tsp in pot

Milk

Strength

Time of day

 

 

 

 

 

Darjeeling

2 - 3

O

2

PM

First Flush Darjeeling

1

N

1

PM

Assam

3 - 4

Y

3

Allday

Ceylon

3 - 4

Y

4

Allday

Orange Pekoe

2 - 3

O

3

Allday

Earl Grey

1 - 3

O

2

Allday

Green tea

1

N

1

PM

Jasmine

1

N

1

PM

Lapsang Souchong

1

N

1

PM

Yunnan

1 - 3

O

2

PM

Keemun

1 - 3

O

2

PM

Japanese Sencha

1

N

1

PM

Nilgiri

2 - 4

O

2

PM

 

 

 

 

 

Key: Y = Yes O = optional N = No

Here's a handy table that gives a little more detail on tea brewing times:

Tea type

Brewing time

Water temperature

 

 

 

Black teas

5 minutes

Boiling water

Green teas

3 minutes

Let water cool for about 1 minute after coming to the boil; it should be 65 - 70°C (150 - 175°F)

Oolong tea

7 minutes

Let the water rest for 30 seconds after coming to the boil

Herbal infusions

5 minutes

Boiling water

 

 

 

For these tables, we have assumed a classic family-sized tea pot - enough for 6 cups.



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