Brew a better cup of tea with tips from a certified Tea Sommelier including how to avoid common mistakes.
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1. Use loose tea
If all you’re adding to tea is water, always go for loose tea.
After the tea brews, take a look at the unfurled tea leaves to see how much of the tea leaves are whole. The highest quality loose tea are ones where you can see whole tea leaves — not broken or crushed.
As a general rule, loose tea is the best quality, tea sachets are good quality, and tea bags are the lowest. Open up a tea bag and you’ll see it’s made up of tea dust and tiny bits of crushed tea leaves.
Use loose tea for when you’re just adding water but feel free to use tea sachets and tea bags when making tea lattes or in recipes.
2. Don’t always use boiling hot water
Ever had really bitter green tea? It’s because it was made with water that was too hot. Not all tea should be made with boiling hot water, especially green tea.
Using water that’s too hot can make a great tea not so great so always go by the water temperature on the tea package.
3. Get an electric kettle with temperature setting
Speaking of water temperature, I highly recommend getting an electric kettle with temperature setting to get the water heated just right. Every serious tea drinker should have one.
4. Don’t use a tea ball
As loose tea gets steeped in hot water, the tea leaves will start to unroll and unfurl.
To get the best flavor, you want the leaves to have plenty of room to unroll. Don’t cram them into a tea ball or any tea infuser that’s too small. The bigger the infuser, the better — give your tea leaves room to expand.
5. Use filtered water
I say this all the time — the best water makes the best tea. Water quality plays a huge part in how good your tea tastes. Use filtered water to make tea whenever possible.
Every good tea shop brews their tea with filtered water.
6. Cold brew tea to make the best iced tea
After you’ve had cold brewed tea, you’ll always want to make your iced tea that way. It’s super easy to make but it does take a few hours to steep in the refrigerator.
Cold brewed tea tastes refined and completely elevates iced tea. All the subtle notes and layers are much easier to taste when you cold brew tea. See how to cold brew tea.
7. Warm up the teapot
Warming up the teapot is something every tea professional does before brewing tea.
Boil extra water, pour it into the teapot, and give it a few swirls. Then throw out the water.
This important step keeps the teapot nice and warm so that there isn’t a big water temperature drop while the tea brews.
8. Cover teapot during steep
This ties in with warming up the teapot. It’s all about keeping the water temperature stable as the tea steeps.
If you’re making tea in a mug with an infuser, make sure to put something on top of the mug so the water can stay nice and hot while the tea brews.
9. Don’t steep tea for longer to make it stronger
Two things can make your tea bitter — using the wrong water temperature and steeping tea for too long.
A lot of people make the mistake of brewing tea for longer to get a stronger cup. The tea will be stronger but also really bitter. Instead, add more tea and stick with the same steep time.
10. Make tea lattes like a pro with an electric milk frother
I love making tea lattes at home, especially now that I know the trick to getting cafe-quality froth. You can get amazing froth using a French press but that involves an extra step of heating up milk separately. (See how to froth milk using a French press.)
An electric milk frother will heat and froth milk at the same time.