Finding Your Cup of Tea: A Brewing Guide

By Jadyn Miller

“Not my cup of tea.” A lovely euphemism for, “I don’t like it.” Many people don’t enjoy tea, saying it is too bitter, or it doesn’t taste good, but that just isn’t the case.

There is a large variety of teas, ranging from dark, rich ones, to light, flowery ones. Every tea has a unique flavor, meaning there is a tea for almost everyone.

The key to finding this ideal tea, though, is in the leaves. All tea as we know it comes from the plant Camellia Sinensis. Depending on the tea, though, it is prepared differently. All tea that is not blended (Includes bits of other plants) or flavored (Infused with the flavor or scent of another plant) falls into one of the following categories.

Black teas are made from the leaves, buds, and stems of the tea plant, and once picked, is allowed to fully oxidize. It is rolled, which releases the oils trapped in the leaves. This allows it to begin the process of oxidization. It usually ranges in color from brown to black to blue. When brewed, it has a reddish tint, giving it the nickname, “Red tea.” It has an incredibly bold flavor and is one of the stronger teas. It is often served with milk.

A cup of black tea

Green teas are made from the same parts of the plant as black tea, but do not undergo the same oxidization process. They are either steamed or dried, and have a much lighter flavor. They retain the green color of the original plant, and are usually green when brewed, giving it its name.

Oolong tea is rolled and shaped, then allowed to partially oxidize, before being fired. This gives it a flavor somewhere between that of black and green tea, along with a color somewhere between the two. Oolong is a great tea to reuse the leaves of, due to its complex flavor. It is possible to extract a number of unique cups of tea out of a single serving of leaves.

White tea is much more expensive than the others, due to how much more difficult it is to process. It is made from the buds of the tea plant and is only collected a few days out of every year. It is then dried. It is whitish-green in color, and when brewed, makes a very light tea.

A cup of white tea

Pu-erh tea is on the other end of the spectrum from white tea. It is made from the same parts of the plant as green and black tea but is both oxidized and fermented. It is a dark color and makes a brownish tea. It is known to have a rich, earthy flavor, but beware. Tea of lower quality can have a moldy taste.

Yellow tea is incredibly rare, grown almost exclusively in China. After it is harvested, it is fermented under a layer of straw, then rolled and dried. It is difficult to find, but once you do, you will find it to have a yellow color. It makes a golden tea with a smooth and flowery flavor.

A tray of yellow tea

With so many different types of tea, it is only natural that they are brewed differently.

The temperature and time brewed differ depending on the type of tea, and personal preference. The best option would be to follow any directions that come with the tea with purchase, but if none are included, then there are still some guidelines to follow that will help you to get the best cup possible.

Some teas require a very specific temperature range to brew properly. Brewing too hot can make it bitter, while too cool will not brew your tea properly. Depending on how much tea you are making, you should use anywhere between 1tsp and 2tbsp of leaves. The brewing time and temperature are as follows:

Black: 190˚-212˚/ 3-5 Min.

Green: 158˚-176˚/ 1-3 Min.

Oolong: 180˚-200˚/ 1-5 Min.

White: 158˚-161˚/ 7-10 Min.

Yellow: 167˚-176˚/ 2-3 Min.

Pu-erh: 190˚-200˚/ 2 Min.

One major mistake when making tea is how people try to make it stronger. If you wish to have stronger tea, add more leaves. Never brew it longer, because that will only give you bitter tea.

When making tea, add hot water into the container you intend to brew it in, then pour it out. This will heat the container so that the tea brews at a constant temperature.

Make sure the water is at the right temperature before you add the leaves. Some teas will be damaged if they are placed in too hot of water.

Brewing it properly will help to bring out the best flavor, and may just help some of you find your cup of tea.