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How to Make a Cup of Tea

Making a cup of tea doesn't have to be difficult.

How to make tea - Step by Step Guide

Making the perfect cup of tea from loose leaf tea or tea bags can be easy if you follow a few simple steps.

Making tea is not difficult to do, what do you need to make tea? after all its only some tea leaves and boiling water! Correct, but if you don't follow a few simple steps your cup of tea may not be what you expected or like and you certainly won't be getting the best from the tea you have chosen.

This brewing guide is exactly that, a guide on how to make tea. Once you grasp the basics of making an enjoyable cup of tea you will be able to experiment with different varieties of tea, different water temperatures and different brewing times — all of which create different tastes.

How you enjoy your tea is personal. The goal is to have a perfect cup of tea that is consistently to your liking. While we offer pointers in this guide, ultimately it is down to personal taste; there is no definitive right or wrong way to make tea. Let your palate be the guide.

Making a good, consistent cup of tea is not difficult but needs a bit of care in the making. This guide not only applies to loose leaf tea but also how to make tea with tea bags.

In China, making a cup of tea has been taken to the level of an art form, and, in Japan, it is an expression of Zen Buddhism. When you make a pot of tea, you share in a daily ritual for millions of people all over the world. Savour the moment, whether preparing a pot of your morning brew, a cup of green at your desk in the afternoon, or a carefully prepared rare tea to be enjoyed with friends. Be creative, it’s your cup of tea.

Way to make tea overview

Most people think the way to make tea is by dropping proprietary tea bags into a pot and submerging them in boiling water. Before they drink tea they wait until it has brewed for “long enough” or it looks the “right” colour. The tea leaves are also left in the tea pot. The problem with this is that leaving the tea leaves in the pot it does not halt the steeping process and the tea becomes increasingly stronger. An overly long brew process causes tea to become bitter especially black tea. By removing the tea after a set amount of time the steeping process is halted and any further cups of tea are the same as the first cup. As a result, accurate timing of the steeping process is essential to the resulting taste. This will be covered in more detail later.

The most important element of an enjoyable cup of tea is the tea itself. Establishing its quality is therefore vital — make sure your supplier understands how to pack and handle tea to maintain it in the very best condition. It goes without saying that the better the grade of loose tea you start with, the better tasting the resulting cup of tea will be. If good high grade loose tea leaves are used in making tea they can often be used more than once.

The tea industry has a tea leaf grading system to evaluate quality and condition. The highest grades are referred to as Orange Pekoe and the lowest as Fannings or Dust (as often found in a cheaper tea bag).
On this site you can read about the different varieties of tea and the flavours they produce — this guide seeks to provide advice on the necessary steps to making the very finest cup of tea.
  1. Start with fresh, cold, good-tasting water

The best tea is only as good as the hot water with which it is prepared. Preparing the same tea in different areas where the hardness of the water varies will produce a different tasting cup of tea. Fresh water contains more oxygen, and this enhances the taste of the tea. Every time water is boiled it loses some of the oxygen held in the water; this is why hot water that has been re-boiled can lead to a flat tasting cup of tea. For best results in making tea, make sure you use freshly drawn cold water and boil the water fresh every time.

Be careful of using water that has any aroma such as heavily chlorinated water. This can spoil the taste of the tea. Some people recommend using filtered or bottled water with a neutral hardness.
  1. Selecting and preheating the teapot

First, select a teapot the right size for the number of cups required. Then, because selecting the right water temperature to suit the type of tea is vital, it is important to preheat the pot or cup in which the tea will be steeped. If the pot or cup is cold the hot water will cool too quickly when it is poured in. If the water is not at the correct temperature you will not extract the full flavour of the tea.

How to preheat the pot - Pour a little hot water from the kettle as it starts to boil into the pot leave it to warm the pot for a while then pour this water off into the drinking cups to warm them as well.

  1. Measure the appropriate amount of tea

All our teas come with brewing instructions and the amount of tea required to make a perfect cup of tea.

Measure the loose tea according to the suggested amount on the packet. The amounts of tea required to make tea varies quite considerably between different grades and types of tea. You will normally not need to use as much black tea in making your perfect cup as you would say a light white tea.

Place the tea either loose into the pot or wherever possible place the leaves into an infuser or disposable fillable bag which are removed once the tea is brewed. If you put the lose leaf tea straight into the tea pot you will need to use a tea strainer when you pour the tea to avoid getting a cup of tea full of tea leaves.

Since different teas have varying strengths it will be a question of experimenting with your favourite tea to get the exact amount you like. If you add milk to your tea, add it after you have poured the tea to avoid the milk cooling the cup too much.

It is important to remember if you want a stronger cup of tea to use more tea. Many people make the mistake of leaving the tea to brew for longer to try to increase its strength. This will only leave the tea tasting bitter. Instead, brew for the same length of time but add extra tea.

  1. Select the right water temperature for the tea used

Brew your tea with water at the correct temperature to be sure to get the best taste from the tea you chosen.
Black tea , Herbal Infusions - These types are best prepared with water that has come to boiling. Don’t let the water boil too long or the oxygen content will be reduced and the tea will taste flat.
Green tea, White tea, Oolong tea - For these types of tea use water that has not quite boiled or has been left to cool for 30 seconds to 1 minute after boiling. Boiling water will cook the delicate leaves and destroy the flavour and will make the tea taste bitter. This is the number one reason most people do not enjoy green tea because they have made it in the same way as black tea and found it is bitter.

Generally, the finer the green tea, the lower the water temperature should be.

If you don’t have a thermometer you can be pretty close to the correct temperature for the green tea and White tea by pouring the water at the moment that bubbles begin to form at the bottom of your kettle, or a pillar (rather than curls) of steam start to appear. Alternatively, bring the water to a boil first and then pour water into an empty pot or jug allow it to cool for one to two minutes or use a thermometer before pouring onto the tea.

At the end of this guide you can find a table providing suggested water temperatures for different types of tea.

  1. Brew (steep) the tea for the correct time

The suggested times in the table at the end of this guide are only a starting point.

Once you become familiar with the different teas you like you will be able to adjust the steeping time to your taste. Until you are familiar with a particular tea, steep for the suggested time and taste. Pay attention to the taste rather than the colour.

Remember, the amount of time it takes for a tea to brew depends on its leaf size. The general rule is, the smaller the leaf, the faster the tea infuses. When the tea tastes right, remove the tea bags or infuser to avoid over steeping. Use an egg timer for timing the brewing. Most are for three minutes but you can get some which count three, four and five minutes.

Some teas can be used more than once providing they do not fully dry out. In Japan they will use the tea from the first infusion all day and then discard. There is also a thought that tea made from second or third infusions can test even better and or different.

If you follow these guidelines when you start out you should end up with a very enjoyable cup of tea. Once you become comfortable with the process you can then experiment with different brewing times, water temperatures and tea quantity to make that perfect cup of tea personal to you.

Tea Brewing Table

Tea Water Temperature Brewing Time
Black Tea 88 - 100°c 190 - 210°F 3 - 5 minutes
Green Tea 75 - 88°c 170 - 190°F 2 - 3 minutes
White Tea 65 - 75°c 150 - 170°F 2 - 4 minutes
Oolong Tea 70 - 88°c 160 - 180°F 2 - 3 minutes
Herbal Tea 88 - 100°c 190 - 210°F 3 - 5 minutes

If you really want to get the correct temperature of water for your tea you can buy a kettle with different temperature settings so you will be right every time. 

About The Wiltshire Tea Company

The Wiltshire Tea Company is a family-owned business devoted to supplying high quality tea for your enjoyment since 2001.
We have a huge range of loose leaf teas and tea bags from around the world including our own exclusive special blends which always prove to be very popular.
We understand how to handle and freshly pack tea to ensure you get it in the best possible condition.
Our tea is provided under the Ethical Tea Partnership which ensures the fair treatment of employees working on tea estates in terms of wages and employment conditions.
 

Our FREE How to Make a Cup of Tea Guide provides extensive information on how to brew different types of tea.

To download it (PDF), please click here.

Here are the teas we have available from around the world for you to make your perfect cup of tea; ALL TEAS

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