A Tea Sommelier’s Guide to the Perfect Cup
On one hand, nothing could be simpler than making a cup of tea. After all, in a pinch a teabag snatched from the cupboard and plunged into a cup of steaming tap water will usually yield a reasonable cup. But like most good things in life, with a small investment of time and effort in the art of tea making, you can easily upgrade your skills, turning a functional infusion into an amazing taste adventure.
So how exactly do you brew a great cup of tea? Simply put, follow the pros. Tea Sommeliers, if you’ve never heard of them, are tea experts trained and certified in everything from the history and culture of tea to terroir, seasonality, pairings, preparation, culinary uses, selection, production methods and more.
Here are their top tips on steeping:
The Three T’s: Time, Temperature, Taste
Timing: Timing is everything when it comes to brewing tea. The longer the infusion time, the stronger the taste. For many teas, a longer steep time will produce a bitter brew, so be sure to follow steeping instructions and use a timer.
Temperature: Black teas can be infused with boiling water for a satisfying cup, but delicate green and white teas should be brewed at cooler temperatures to prevent the loss of overall sweetness and flavor.
Taste: The quantity of tea leaves and the amount of room the leaves have to unfold will impact the taste. It’s important to allow the leaves maximum space to bring out the full flavor. While the typical amount used is one teaspoon per 6 ounces of water, more tea will produce a bolder cup. In addition, make sure you use fresh, high-quality water each time.
Ready to give it a try? The Tea Association of Canada recommends the following steeping times and temperatures for a sensational cup of tea. Or, for all of the precision with none of the fuss, electric tea makers with pre-set time and temperature settings can be used to brew a perfect cup every time.