Daily Archives: January 14, 2013

14 Tips for Brewing Tea and Coffee

If you’re going to take the time out of your day to enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee, make sure you keep these helpful suggestions in mind so you can brew up the perfect cup of whatever you like to drink!

drinking coffee

Tea Brewing Tips:

When using loose tea leaves, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Everything from the water you use to the steep time will effect the taste of your drink, so use these guidelines to create a beverage that suites you “to a tea”!

Start with fresh, cold water: The best tea is only as good as the water with which it is prepared. Try using filtered or bottled spring water with a natural mineral content. The freshness of the water is important as fresh water contains more oxygen, which enhances the taste of the tea. Never use hot tap water or water that has already boiled for a long time as this will result in a flat and dull tasting tea with little aroma.

Preheat the teapot: It is important to preheat the pot or cup in which the tea will be steeped. If hot water is poured into a cold vessel, the temperature of the water will drop too quickly and the full flavor of the tea will not be extracted. To preheat the pot: pour a little of the boiling water from the kettle into the pot and then pour this water off into the drinking cups to warm them.

Measure the appropriate amount of dry leaves: Ideally, 3 grams of dry leaves should be used for every 6 ounces of water. If you don’t have a scale, try starting with one rounded teaspoon of dry leaves for each 6-ounce cup. With lighter weight teas such as large, wiry oolongs and whites, try 2 teaspoons per 6 oz cup.

Select the right water temperature: Black, Dark Oolong, and Herbal Teas are best prepared with water that has come to near boiling. Don’t let the water boil too long or the oxygen content will be reduced and the tea will taste flat. Green, White, Green Oolong teas should not be prepared with boiling water as this will cook the leaves and destroy their flavor. Japanese greens tend to taste best with water at 170-180º F. China green teas tend to taste best with water at 185º F. Generally, the finer the green tea, the lower the water temperature should be.

Steep time: The time it takes for tea to brew depends on the leaf size. The smaller the leaf, the faster the tea infuses. When you’re experimenting with new teas, let your leaves steep for 2 minutes, then taste your tea. When the tea tastes right, serve or pour off all the liquid to avoid oversteeping. Here are some general guidelines:

Japanese Green Teas: 1-2 minutes
Chinese Green Teas: 2-3 minutes
White Teas: 2-5 minutes
Green Oolong Teas: 2-3 minutes
Dark Oolong Teas: 3-5 minutes
Black Teas: 3-5 minutes
Herbal Infusions: 5-10 minutes

When your tea is done steeping, immediately remove the loose tea from the strainer or the tea bag and lightly stir. Then serve while fresh and hot. If your tea gets too cool, it is best to enjoy it over ice verses re-heating the brew.

Coffee Brewing Tips:

Similar to tea, the perfect cup of coffee begins with using clean water and proper water to coffee ratio.

Start with good water: Like tea, the best coffee comes from mineral content water. The absence of some minerals can lead to bitter tasting coffee, so avoid using distilled water when you brew.

Good quality coffee: Obviously the quality of the coffee you’re using matters when brewing the perfect cup of joe. Also, make sure you store your coffee properly. Oxygen is one of coffee’s biggest adversaries, so keep your beans in an air-tight container to ensure freshness.

The size of the grind: A finer grind means more surface area of the bean is exposed to the water. For a brew method that uses a longer dwell time such as French Press, a coarser grind is necessary. An even grind of any size is ideal, so follow the directions on your grinder.

Use clean equipment: Old sediments easily make for rancid flavors in your coffee. A good rule of thumb is to clean your equipment if you notice or smell any odor. If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned it, it’s probably time to clean it again.

Portion control: The official recommended proportion is 2 tablespoons for every 6 oz of water. If this ratio to strong for you palate you could back it off to 2 tablespoons for every 8 oz of water but any less than this puts you at significant risk for under extracted, watery and thin coffee.

Beans are best: Always purchase whole bean coffee (never pre-ground), and grind just prior to use. Yes, this is an inconvenience compared to buying pre-ground, but it is an absolute must if you want to end up with a tasty cup. Home coffee grinders are very inexpensive and can be found at most department and kitchen/home stores.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 


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