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Tea & Other Brews

Tea and Other Brews

September 14th, 2018

The Steep Ascent of Tea

We’re talking about tea today, because we have this amazing infuser in our store, and we can’t get enough of it. When you’re ready to ditch the tea bag, upgrade as we did. Either way, keep reading!

There are so many types of tea! Earl Grey, oolong, Darjeeling, and several with the word “dragon” in the title. Black tea, green tea, herbal tea, white tea, match tea, Chai, etc. etc. etc. (By the way, “chai” or “çay” is the word for “tea” in several languages, so when you order a “chai tea,” some baristas say “tee hee hee, they just ordered a tea tea.”)

No matter what type of tea you’re drinking, you’re steeping it. Tea plus water left alone for a time will cause the flavorful and aromatic oils from the tea to combine with the water. We call this “steeping.” Once you remove the tea, the stained and oily water is now your beverage! It’s delicious and as varied as the colors of a good sunset. Most of the time, we’re all using hot water to steep our tea, but Cold Brew Tea is more and more popular all the time.

Basic practices

In general, a cup of tea is ready to go in 3-5 minutes. Err toward the 3-minute side of your tea that includes something spicy like ginger or the 5 minute side if your tea is full of subtle flavors like rose hips. Also, in general, black teas and herbal teas can be steeped in 212 degree water. Green teas should be steeped in cooler water. Try 175 degrees or 190 degrees. But really, you should drink your tea the way you like it best. I like mine with honey. Milk tea is very popular. Most people serve a little nibble of food with tea. Crumpets, biscuits, cookies, or toast should all be on standby, in my opinion, every minute of the day.

woman taking a sip of her coffee
mug of tea on a table

Teabagging

Everyone knows what a tea bag looks like, so I won’t spend too much time explaining it. Whether you buy the cheap stuff or the luxury stuff, whether you’re making iced tea, sweet tea, or hosting tea time in jolly old England, you’re probably taking a bag of tea out of a box and steeping it in some water. Bags have traditionally been made of paper, but some new styles of bags are made of plastic, nylon, or other very complex-sounding polymers, which don’t soak up as much oil from the tea, providing you with a better brew. Teabags are easy to use, easy to dispose of, and inexpensive, usually. However, loose leaf tea is the go-to choice for tea pros.

Everyone knows what a teabag looks like, so I won’t spend too much time explaining it. Whether you buy the cheap stuff or the luxury stuff, whether you’re making iced tea, sweet tea, or hosting tea time in jolly old England, you’re probably taking a bag of tea out of a box and steeping it in some water. Bags have traditionally been made of paper, but some new styles of bags are made of plastic, nylon, or other very complex-sounding polymers, which don’t soak up as much oil from the tea, providing you with a better brew. Teabags are easy to use, easy to dispose of, and inexpensive, usually. However, a loose leaf tea is a go-to choice for tea pros.

Loose Leaf

Dried tea leaves, herbs, and spices that are not held inside a teabag are called “loose leaf tea.” Many people keep tea infusers (again, check this awesome one out) handy so that they can pack them full of loose leaf tea and get to a grown-up’s work of drinking full-flavored tea. The benefit of brewing loose leaf: removing the tea bag causes the tea to make direct contact with the water. The oils from the extraction never have to pass back through the tea bag in order to make it into your final drink. You’ll taste more of the good stuff.


Cascara, Chicory, and Other Things

Go down to your favorite local coffee shop, and they are likely to offer other steepable, non-coffee, non-tea drinks. From sticks to moss to seaweed, lots of natural things can be steeped in hot water and turned into a flavorful concoction. Chicory is a classic coffee substitute, still used in New Orleans-style coffee and cafe au lait, such as those at Cafe du Monde, in Cafe du Monde’s instant coffee, and in Blue Bottle Coffee‘s New Orleans Iced Coffee cartons. A more recent addition to the scene, cascara is the fruit that grows around the coffee beans (seeds). After being picked, tea farmers dry the tea, and then you steep it in your cup to make a sweet tea-like beverage.

As you continue to explore tea and other brews, make sure you have a great kettle and a fun mug to go along with your presses, infusers, and yoga mats. Luckily, we have some of that available in our store. Thanks for reading!

loose leaf tea