Tea is a great-tasting, lower-caffeine option to coffee, and, as the USDA has indicated, it may even provide some significant health benefits to boot.
Want to give tea a try, but not sure how to brew it properly? Here is a guide on how to brew that perfect cup of tea.
The United States Department of Agriculture released research on September 19, 2012, highlighting the positive benefits of drinking tea. The results indicated that drinking tea could help aid in weight loss; improve bone formation in older men and women; improve mental sharpness; help ward off inflammation and vascular damage linked to chronic conditions associated with aging; enhance effects of chemotherapy drugs; and could even prevent cells from becoming cancerous in the first place. Additionally, Claudio Ferri, MD, University L’Aquila, Italy stated, “Drinking as little as one cup of tea per day supports healthy arterial function and blood pressure.”
So, why would you not want to reach for a cup of tea?
Some people like to go for the morning and afternoon java, simply because they need that caffeine kick. Like many things, caffeine is typically okay in moderation, increasing our alertness, making us feel better, and even giving our metabolism a little kick. But, for those of us who need to cut back on the caffeine, switching from coffee to tea may be a good option. After all, according to the Mayo Clinic, a generic cup of brewed coffee has 95-200 mg of caffeine, while a cup of brewed black tea has 14-61 mg. These numbers range, the Mayo Clinic explains, because, “The actual caffeine content of the same coffee drink can vary from day to day — even at the same coffee shop — because of various factors, such as roasting and grinding, as well as brewing time. The caffeine content of tea also is affected by how long it's brewed.”
So, how do you brew the perfect cup of tea?
The Fragrant Leaf has several recommendations on its website:
- Start with cold, fresh water. The Fragrant Leaf suggests filtered or bottled spring water, but does not recommend distilled water, explaining that the purification of mineral content “produces a flat tasting infusion.”
- Preheat the teapot. This keeps the temperature of the steeping water higher, making for a better extraction. Simply pour a little boiling water into the pot, then pour the water into the cups to warm them, as well.
- Amount of tea. When using loose leaves, approximately 3 grams of dry leaves (about one rounded teaspoon for heavier teas, 2 rounded teaspoons for light teas, like white tea) should be used for 6 ounces of water. Of course, you should adjust for your own tastes.
- To boil or not to boil? Black, dark oolong and herbal teas should be prepared with water that has come close to boiling; green, white and green oolong teas need cooler waters, so as not to destroy their tastes. According to The Fragrant Leaf, Japanese greens should be prepared with water at 170-180 degrees F; China green teas should be prepared with water at 185 degrees F. If you do not want to worry with a thermometer when brewing these more delicate teas, The Fragrant Leaf suggests you try pouring the water when the bubbles begin on the bottom of the kettle, or, if the water has boiled, let it cool for three minutes before pouring.
The Fragrant Leaf suggests these general guidelines for brewing time:
- 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
So, how do you take your tea?
Tea drinkers’ tastes are as varied as that of coffee drinkers—straight up, sugar, honey, milk, every tea drinker has their own unique way of enjoying a good cup of tea.
And, if you decide to go for tea, you will have plenty of company, according to Joe Simrany, president of the Tea Council of the USA, who says tea is "the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water."
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