If you’re just starting out with loose leaf tea, then you’ve come to the right place. Many of us are used to tea bags, they’re easy and familiar; drop a pyramid in a cup of hot water and get that soothing cup of goodness. But what if I told you that there is a better experience? At Love Tea we’re advocates of the tasting experience, having made the jump from normal tea bags to the world of loose leaf tea ourselves.
This guide answers some common questions about brewing loose leaf tea, supplementing the brewing guide you receive in our tasting packs.
Why do people choose loose leaf tea?
Since tea bags are the norm, the manufacturing process has grown to deal with bulk processing. Teabags are manufactured in very large batches, taking leaves from the Camelia Sinensis plant and processing them into a small ground quantity that can fit into a tea bag. The grinding process results in a loss of quality, often including stems and seeds.
With loose leaf tea, you get a fresher, better ingredient that has undergone as little processing as possible. Loose leaf tea also gives you a sense of what you’re tasting; you can see the different composition of different tea types, smell them, and ultimately control how much you steep.
What are all these different types of tea I keep hearing about?
Teas come in different types, even though most boil down to the same plant – Camelia Sinensis. The difference is owed to the picking and oxidiation process of the leaf. As soon as the tea leaves are picked, they start wilting and oxidizing unless they are dried. The longer they oxidize, the darker the leaf will become and the more caffeine it will contain. White teas are the least left to oxidize, and often dried immediately. Green teas are given some oxidization, while Black teas are the ones oxidized for longer – giving a very dark leaf. This all effects the taste of the resulting tea, which can be blended with other ingredients to bring out certain tasting notes.
How do I brew loose leaf tea?
With loose leaf tea, you need something to hold the tea leaves in place while they infuse with your hot water. There are a variety of options available for this, from disposable T-Filters to put the leaves in, to a range of infusers to choose from. To brew, simply put your desired amount of leaves in the infuser (usually a ball shape), close, and drop into your hot water for the desired steeping time.
You may need to experiment a bit to find the infuser that is right for you.
Are all teas brewed the same?
The simple answer is no. Based on the tea type, you will need to vary the amount of leaves, the water temperature and the ‘steeping’ time. Our handy brewing guide gives guidance on each tea type. All our tea pouches also include instructions on brewing.
Key points to keep in mind
- Always use fresh water. Water that has been previously boiled has lost oxygen and results in a poor quality tea
- If you are boiling water without temperature control, avoid letting the water reach a rolling boil (continues to boil for more than second), as that will release oxygen and result in a flat-tasting cup of tea.
- To make a tea stronger, don’t steep it for longer. Unless it’s an herbal, steeping a tea for too long will make it bitter rather than strong. Instead, add more tea leaves!
- As a general rule, use one level teaspoon or 2 grams for every cup (200 ml) you’re making. Ingredients like mint and chamomile, or teas with larger leaves like green tea or oolong could use an extra teaspoon
Should I throw leaves out after one infusing?
You can, but be aware that most premium teas are good for a second steeping (even a third) within the hour. So if you just infused a tea for one, you can put the infuser aside while you drink and then re-infuse a second cup using the same infuser and leaves. Better yet, make a tea for two and share with a friend!
Which tea should I pick?
The great thing about tea is that there is something for everyone and for any time of day. Tea tasting is a key part to experiencing the different types in different contexts. Tired of sticking to just the usual Black tea in the morning? Try a Chai for that extra spicy kick. If you’ve never experienced a tea without bitterness, try a Green or White tea. Love herbs and spices? Give a herbal infusion a go. Better yet, get one of our tasting plans and you will get a variety of our best selections every month to try!