Sitting down to a beautiful cup of tea and getting a mouthful of bitter, caustic liquid is one of life’s greatest surprises. What went wrong and why? Why is this happening again and again?
What you need is focus. This is good, because you haven’t paid attention. To brew green tea at the same temperature as peppermint, for example, you’d need to know that peppermint is not a tea in the first place. It’s a herbal tea (via Dynasty of Tea).
When you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, consider of it as a lesson you must learn (or relearn). Like in the movie Groundhog Day, you’ll finally learn what you need to learn and be ready to move on with your life once you’ve finished (wink, wink). To help you, we’ve outlined some of the most common mistakes people make when brewing tea below. To avoid steeping an unappealing or downright revolting cup of tea, read on to learn the most common blunders people make when making tea (and how to, you know, not do that anymore).
Is Your Water Temperature Too Hot or Too Cold?
As simple as it appears to prepare a cup (or a pot) of tea when preparing tea. Take your prepackaged or loose-leaf tea, add boiling water, and let it sit for however long you think is suitable. If that’s the case, then everything is set, right? More nuanced explanations are required.
Different types of teas require different brewing temperatures, so the boil-and-pour method doesn’t always work (via Artful Tea). In general, water temperature should be between 140 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit for delicate teas like white and green teas, and 212 degrees Fahrenheit for more robust black and herbal teas like tisane (like Rooibos, chamomile, and Darjeeling).
As stated by Rishi Tea, “the improper water temperature might produce an over-extraction of polyphenols, which can affect the flavour of your tea.” You can wind up with a cup of tea that’s either incredibly bitter or completely inedible. It’s a good idea to have a food-grade thermometer on hand just in case you accidentally over- or under-extract. You don’t want to damage the $40.00 per ounce tea your friend brought back from Europe.
Finally, avoid using a microwave oven. There’s no way to know in advance what the weather may bring.
You’re Boiling Your Tea to Death.
There are a few rules to follow while making teas that call for heating water. Bring the water to a boil first. To make a complete roll, bring water to a boil, then remove it from the heat. First of all, don’t pour boiling water on that innocent little bag. To better homes and gardens, it’s the most common mistake people make when brewing tea. “Add boiling water” is interpreted by tea drinkers as “douse the tea packet with boiling water until it begins to bubble.”
Just because your tea packet (or box) says to use boiling water, don’t pour boiling water right onto that flavour bag. RishiTea recommends waiting a few minutes for the water to cool down a bit.
However, is it really that important? Yes, that’s correct. Excessively hot water not only burns out the flavour but also overextends the tea leaves, generating bitterness that wouldn’t otherwise be present (via RishiTea). A ruined cup of tea cannot be salvaged. The only function for it is to water plants. Make sure that your tea has time to cool before giving it a proper bath when your kettle begins to scream or your electric kettle begins to shut itself off.
Use a Better Water Supply.
Not that your water is uninhabitable and unpalatable; but according to Fresh Cup Magazine, pH level, total dissolved solids, and water hardness all play a huge effect in how your tea tastes (just like the process for brewing a nice cuppa coffee). In other words, how can you tell if the municipal water you’re drinking, despite how good it tastes, is of tea-quality? The Tea Association of the United States recommends boiling your water if you already know that it is excessively chlorinated.
People in the United States don’t need to be concerned with the pH of their tap water (Healthline reports it as 7.5, which is neutral). The amount of minerals, metals, salts, and other substances in water is referred to as total dissolved solids (TDS). Magnesium and calcium levels are used to determine hardness. When the white flaky substance appears around the mouth of your kitchen faucet you should be happy. That indicates that your water is hard. Even if you drink soft water, showering with it will never feel like you’ve gotten all of the soap off of your body. The New York Times suggests the SimpleWater Tap Score Water test if you’re unsure about the quality of your water. On the EPA’s water quality resource page, you’ll find a plethora of links.
Your tea is outdated.
The expiration date on your tea does not mean it is unsafe to drink, according to DoesItGoBad.com (as long as it has been stored properly). Expiration indicates that there are no more natural oils present in the tea leaves, and any cup brewed with those leaves will likely taste dull, lifeless, and watery. TeaCrossing describes this in a blog post. According to Artful Tea, even if the tea is past its prime, it is safe to consume if it has been stored properly.
The best way to detect if a tea has gone bad or expired is to smell it, and if it’s still fragrant, go ahead and brew it. Keep in mind, though, that tea is a herb (plant), and so it will decay and lose its strength over time, no matter what. Let us partake of this beverage together. If you want your tea to have a pleasant aroma, it should be mold-free and devoid of any dank or unpleasant scent, as per the tea’s instructions. As long as it doesn’t have a pungent or dank aroma, you’re doing OK. However, Brewed Leaf Love states that dried tea leaves make excellent fertiliser and that this is a far better alternative than a dull cup of tea.
Storage may play a role.
Tea, although being little more than dried and fermented leaves, can become boring after a while. According to Tufts, storing loose-leaf (or prebagged) tea in an airtight container will keep it fresh for as long as feasible. Keep the sealed container out of direct sunlight and away from your sink, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and microwave. It’s recommended to keep an airtight tea storage capsule in your pantry, cupboards, or kitchen counter, if you haven’t already (via Tea Crossing).
As soon as it is exposed to any of the four elements, improperly stored tea will begin to lose its strength. What does potency mean? To begin with, there’s the smell. Then there’s the taste. Tea canisters that are resistant to the elements work best with a lid that is double-sealed or with a silicone seal canister. Freshness and odours are kept at bay by this method.
Too much or too little is a possibility.
You may want to rethink how much tea and water you’re using if your tea doesn’t taste as good as it used to. Your tea will be either way too strong or taste like you’re milking that tea bag to the fullest if your ratios are off, for obvious reasons.
One teaspoon of loose-leaf per six ounces of water is a good general guideline for how much tea to use (via Artful Tea). There are certain exceptions to this general guideline, such as when using bagged or loose-leaf tea, or when preparing a larger or smaller mug. You should follow the brewing directions on prebagged teas because they usually provide them. When brewing loose-leaf tea, TwiningsUSA recommends using one to two teaspoons of loose-leaf per cup (meaning six ounces of water).
It all boils down to simple math. Say you have a 12-ounce cup at your disposal. If you want to make a six-ounce cup of tea, you’ll need…two teabags? When using loose-leaf, two teaspoons should suffice. When calculating the water/tea ratio, don’t forget that it’s not rocket science! In the absence of a measuring spoon, use a regular spoon instead.
Anomaly in Your Timing
Like tea to water ratios, time is critical for a delicious cup of tea to be made. Let it sit for too long, or rush to get it out of the bag too soon, have you ever done this to your tea? Isn’t it a little disgusting, right? You may have over-steeped your green tea, making it bitter or lacking in flavour.
There are varying steeping times for different types of tea. The natural tannins inherent in all teas are released if the tea is steeped too long, resulting in a bitter brew. This is different for herbal teas. Green, white, and oolong teas require less steeping time because of their delicate flavours. Why? What matters is how the tea was processed (via Upton Tea Imports). Unlike green tea, black tea is cooked in a different way. The process of making black tea includes withering, rolling, oxidising, and finally drying. Green tea, on the other hand, is dried by first being pan-fried or steamed, and then dried again. Color, flavour, and aroma can all be attributed to the chemicals that are released during these processes. Antioxidants and polyphenols are best released when steeped for a long period of time. You won’t get the full advantages if you don’t let it steep long enough. You won’t get any extra health points if you overbrew your brew (through Well+Good), on the other hand.
Dairy Products Could Be To Blame
Tea (or coffee) drinkers who feel compelled to dilute their hot or cold beverages with a cream-based liquid may want to rethink their dilution selections. Milk and creamer aren’t necessary for every cup of tea. As noted by Artful Tea, stronger teas can hold up better to cream or milk-based additives because of their extended oxidation periods (during which time the tea leaves are exposed to air to dry, darken, and enhance their flavour). Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, and Keemun are the most common black teas, as well as black tea mixes such as Breakfast Blend or Irish Breakfast.
There are some teas that don’t actually need a creamy accompaniment, such as green, Oolong, white, or yellow teas (via TeaSource).
Having said that, if you like half-and-half in your jasmine green tea, it’s not a sin. Every everyone has their own unique taste. According to historical records, Mongolians have been drinking milk with their tea from the 13th and 14th centuries (via JamoGrand.com). While the Mongols didn’t drink tea with milk, they did drink milk with tea leaves, ghee, millet, and salt (a beverage called Suutei tsai), which was much more frequent among them. Originally known as “milk teas,” these were largely milk-based beverages (via Sunbasket).
Your Teaware May Contain Remains of Previous Use.
It is important to thoroughly clean your tea strainer before using it to prepare your tea. Aromatic and essential oils can be retained in some strainers throughout the steeping process. Even if you’re using a stainless steel or metal mesh strainer, they must be completely cleaned to avoid any possible flavour contamination. (via TeaSteeping.com).
The Tea Box says that different cleaning methods are required for various items. At least one of the following is found in most (if not all) DIY cleaners: Lemon juice or vinegar may be added to the water if you’d like some tang. Your tea pot should be cleaned in the same manner as the rest of your kitchenware (also known as your mug). Check to see if there are any nicks or breaks in the surface (because no cleaner, natural or chemical, can remove stains from porous materials). To congratulate your cup for doing such a fine job, and then remove it from the kitchen, if you find “blemishes.” You have no business putting that chipped cup in your mouth in the first place.
You should do your best to avoid cross-contamination, even if it sounds like a pain in the ass. For example, coffee-related goods should remain coffee-related. The same rules apply to your soup cup as they do to your cup of tea.
Is Your Teaware Wrong?
It’s time to invest in some new teaware if you’re still using the same mug that you use to drink coffee (or eat ramen) out of. Certain dishes enhance the flavour of particular foods, don’t you think? Tea is the same way.
Glass is a good choice for tea since it allows you to watch the tea absorb into the water (almost like a little tea lava lamp). In addition, some glass is not heat-resistant and may break or become dangerously hot. Ceramic is a good conductor of heat, which is why so many mugs are made of the material. Keep in mind, though, that lighter hues have a propensity to stain. Stainless steel and porcelain are also recommended by The Tea Box because they don’t absorb scents and because they are good heat conductors. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. All that matters is that you don’t use the same mug for everything.
Your Teabag Is Being Squeezed.
Tea snobs aren’t the only ones who enjoy pressing their teabags to extract the last of the water, but others believe it to be bad tea etiquette. Aside from breaking the delicate bag of dried leaves and releasing a bitter substance called tannic acid, there is another reason to avoid squeezing it (via Premium Steap).
Tannings (or tannic acid) are found in all tea leaves, according to Healthline. These tannins become more noticeable in the form of bitterness as a result of oxidation. Black teas have a noticeable tannic acid flavour (which have a longer oxidation time). Squeezing the bag releases a bitter flavour profile into your otherwise ideal cup of tea, and sadly, once it’s been done, it can’t be undone (though dairy can somewhat mellow it). Colgate claims that the tannins generated from your tea can discolour your teeth, probably even more than coffee, in addition to the unpleasant flavour and potentially chewy tea.
Is Your Mouth Shutting Up?
Approximately 10,000 taste buds allow us to distinguish the five fundamental tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. ” Every two weeks or so, our taste senses rebuild like a phoenix from the ashes (via ClassPass). You may notice this in the comparison of your taste preferences as a youngster and an adult. According to MedlinePlus, taste buds tend to degenerate more slowly around age 40. In addition to ageing, certain drugs, traumas (such as burns or bites), illnesses (such as cancer), and smoking can all affect your taste buds in a negative way (via Healthline).
It’s likely that there were some dishes that you detested as a child but now enjoy. I’m talking about things like coffee, dark chocolate, aggressive cheese, or avocados, you know, things like that (via Easy Family Recipes). Because your body is constantly changing, you may like something one day and despise it the next (and that includes your taste). You never know if you’ll like peppermint tea tomorrow, so savour every sip.