Did you know there are many factors to be taken into consideration to make a good tasting cup of tea? You might not have even thought about some of these before but they definitely affect the way a cup of tea tastes.
For instance, the type of cup used is important. Plastic and metal cups will alter the flavor of tea, and it is advisable not to use cups made from these materials. Even ceramic is not ideal because it is a porous material and will cool down the tea too quickly. The best type of cup, then, is porcelain. In fact, when tea was first brought down from China, it used to be served in porcelain cups.
Furthermore, it is very important to pay attention to the temperature of the water. Never re-boil water because this removes oxygen from the water and will make the tea taste a little metallic. Tea needs oxygen to develop its flavours. Once the water is boiled, leave it to cool for a few minutes as doing this produces better results- never pour boiling water over tea because it will scald and burn the tea leaves, thereby preventing it from releasing all its flavours. The type of tea also matters: green teas are best boiled at around 70°C while a majority of black teas require around 96°C.
The optimal time to wait before pouring the water is approximately 2-3 minutes.
This is not a hard and fast rule. The type of tea will determine the amount of time required to keep the tea in the pot. Therefore, it’s recommended that you check the steeping instructions on the packaging first- good quality teas will indicate how much time you’ll need. If you over-steep the tea for too long, it will taste bitter. If you use a teabag or put loose leaves in a tea bag, remove the teabag before serving. Don’t stir it, and most importantly, don’t squeeze it or you’ll release the tannins (a bitter compound that is found in tea) and make the tea definitely taste bitter.
If you’re adding milk, be careful not to add too much or the excess calcium will form a scum on the top of your tea. This also happens if you use hard water in the tea.
You can also add flavor to the tea using a variety of herbs and additives, many of which have additional medical benefits. For example, ginger gives a slightly spicy yet fresh flavor to the tea while acting as an aid to the digestive system and soothing an upset stomach. Cinnamon adds a spicy tang to the tea and is also known to have medicinal properties; while mint leaves has a calming influence on the stomach and lends a pleasant taste to the tea which is great to drink when waking up in the mornings. Another favourite is honey, which sweetens the tea and is recommended for sore throats. Adding lemon juice is also quite popular, spiking the tea with a citrus flavor that provides a dose of Vitamin C for an extra boost in the mornings.
Knowing the different ways to improve the flavor of tea allows for variety in consuming your tea. At the end of the day, is there anything better than a tasty cup of tea?