Craft Tea Basics
- Use 1.5 tsp (½ tbsp.) of tea per 1 cup (8 oz) of water. Too strong? 1 tsp. Too weak? 2 tsp.
- You’ll want a strainer for the least amount of mess. Use metal / mesh, rather than plastic.
- Tea is mostly water, so use whatever kind of water you enjoy drinking the most. I prefer anything fresh & filtered. If you’re using a kettle, pour out any old water first (re-boiled water tastes flat).
- Brew in a tea pot. If you don’t have one, brew in a mug & make sure to cover while steeping.
- Heat your teapot (and / or cup) with warm water before you brew. This preps the pot for warm temperatures and keeps the drink warmer as a result.
- I’m a big proponent of drinking out of small cups (2-3 oz cups, i.e. espresso cups), preferably bone china. The flavor doesn’t get lost & the tea reaches a comfortable temperature much faster.
- After you’ve brewed the tea, try and squeeze the herbs - whether they’re in a strainer or tea bag (Caution: this will be hot- use a utensil). This will ensure some of the more potent parts mix into the tea. I also encourage the occasional swirl ‘n stir while it brews – something to move things around and mix it up. Careful not to spill!
- I make all my blends with the intention that you can enjoy the array of flavors without adding anything to them. They taste like nature, because that’s where they’re from. That being said, if you need to sweeten, please do so with honey - sugar harms the medicinal properties of the herbs!
200 Level Tea Making
- Use a thermometer to accurately brew the tea. The funky temperatures you see on the tins are there for a reason. For example, jasmine tea should be brewed at 175° / 3 minutes, or you’ll burn the leaves and leave it bitter. Similarly, some herbs have active components that go into effect at specific temperatures. Kava kava has kavalactones that “go live” once you reach a certain temperature, but get burned off at another. As wacky as it sounds, I recommend 140° to bring the best out of your kava.
- In general, brewing tea for longer will not make it stronger (adding more tea will). However, long brew times are recommended for a good cup of herbal tea. 20 minute is a good target to aim for. If that seems excessive, try to make it to at least 10 minutes. If you’re feeling wild, try brewing for an entire hour (there’s herbalists out there that recommend 3 hour brews!).
old school vs cold brew
In my opinion, there’s two main styles to brew tea: old school & cold brew. In old school, you’re infusing the tea in hot water – something that’s been done for thousands of years. Alternatively, I’ve grown to become a big fan of cold brew, especially during warm months. Opposed to “iced tea” which involves brewing hot tea, then pouring it over iced (imo, a watered down version), cold brew slowly pulls out that flavor, leading to a strong, bold taste that is both sweet & smooth.
To make a cold brew:
1. Combine 1.5-2 tsp of loose tea per 8 oz of filtered, room temperature water into a container (i.e., a mason jar), and place in a refrigerator for some time. Make sure to rinse the dry loose leaf tea with hot water (160°) first!
2. I recommend 1 hour minimum, 3 hours for best flavor, and 8 hours for best effects. Anything above 8 hours may bring out too much of one element (i.e., Ginger).
3. When it’s done steeping, strain it and put back in the fridge if you’re not drinking it. The fresher the better, but I try to drink these refrigerated infusions within 3 days.
If you have the time and really want to up your tea game, watch this 20 minutes video explaining the wide variety of brewing techniques you can use to make great tea: