Do you know where tea comes from? According to one legend, a light summer breeze caused several leaves to fall from a wild tea tree into the water that the Chinese emperor, Shen Nung, was boiling. That is how the new aromatic, delicious and refreshing drink captivated the emperor which later captivated the entire world. Currently, tea is a very popular drink and its consumption is related to the prevention and cure of diverse cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and disorders that affect our locomotor system.
A cup of tea is wonderful on those days when we are feeling upset, depressed or down. But… do we really know how to properly prepare tea? In this article, we will explain how to properly prepare the world’s most popular teas.
My Favorite Kind of Tea
Tea is a drink that is prepared mainly using the leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis bush. Its antioxidant, antiinflammatory, neuroprotective and calming properties are due to tea’s high content in polyphenols and catechins. Tea also contains fluoride and mineral salt, though their concentration varies depending on the type of tea.
The leaves that are used to prepare this tea are subjected to dehydration, drying and rolling processes. Given that green tea leaves do not go through any fermentation process, their nutrients and properties remain almost perfectly intact. It has a green color and a very refreshing taste.
White tea is prepared with leaves that are still closed (buds) of the plant. These leaves are dehydrated and they do not undergo a fermentation process or an oxidation process. This tea has a very mild flavor and its name was coined due to the color of the buds.
The leaves used in the preparation of this tea are subjected to a long process of oxidation after they are dehydrated. The drink is a reddish and dark color and it has a very high content of caffeine.
Red tea, also known as pu-erh, is prepared with leaves that, after undergoing a dehydration and drying process, go through a long fermentation process, which is longer than that of black tea. Later, red tea is put through a ripening process that could last for decades. This process is what gives red tea its earth flavor and its rusty coloring. This is a highly esteemed tea in China.
Blue Tea or Oolong Tea
This is a very delicate tea with a floral or fruity aroma due to the short oxidation process that these leaves go through. It is very esteemed in China
Nevertheless, just knowing the characteristics of each tea is not enough. Once you have chosen your favorite kind, you then have to prepare it…and this is not as easy as it sounds, they all require technique. In the following, I will explain how to properly prepare the world’s most popular teas.
First I will give you some basic instructions:
- The ideal would be to have a tea kettle with enough space for the leaves to move around and to open up on the inside. Wash your tea kettle with water alone.
- Find the most pure water possible because the salt content of water causes the taste of tea to vary.
- Tea should be consumed immediately following its preparation. Over time, tea can oxidate and this can be harmful to your health.
How do you properly prepare the most popular teas?
Preheat your tea kettle:
Use a small amount of hot water to rinse out the tea kettle or the container where you are going to prepare your tea as well as the tea cups. In this way, you will avoid wasting heat by putting water in the tea kettle cold. It is recommended to
Heat the water:
You should use fresh water, and to be exact, you should use mineral water. Heat it up so that it does not boil so that it does not lose oxygen since this is necessary to make good tea. The temperature the water should reach varies according to the kind of tea and its quality.
- Green Tea: from 65 to 85º C
- White Tea: from 75 to 80º C
- Black Tea and Red Tea: from 90 to 100º C
- Blue Tea: from 85 to 90º C
Add Tea or Water:
Depending on the tea, you should add one or the other. If the tea leaf is delicate and mild like that of blue tea, it is advisable to add the water to the tea kettle first and then the tea. In contrast, if it is a robust tea leaf like in some varieties of black tea, the opposite should be done. These steps have a notable influence on the drink’s flavor. Cover.
How long to steep the tea:
This depends on the country, the type of tea and the flavor or taste that we want to achieve. Within the first minute of steeping, the leaves transfer almost all of their flavor and theine to the water, while starting at the two minute mark, the leaves start to release tannins that can give the tea a harsh flavor.
- White Tea: 1-2 minutes
- Green Tea: 1-3 minutes
- Blue Tea: 3 minutes
- Black Tea and Red Tea: 2-3 minutes
Serve and Enjoy
Sugar changes the properties and the flavor of tea, therefore, if you can, try to learn to enjoy tea naturally.
Is there just one method?
Well, now you know how to prepare your favorite tea properly, but it is important that you know that there is not just one method for preparing it. Thus, in the following, I provide you with a summary of four different ways to prepare tea according to each country’s tradition. Experiment and enjoy.
British Traditional Method
One teaspoon of tea per tea cup is added to the tea kettle and one extra. This amount can vary according to the kind of tea and personal taste. Hot water is poured on top of the leaves and they are covered for the minutes required depending on the type of tea that is being prepared.
The tea cup is heated before serving the tea.
A teaspoon of tea is placed in each tea cup. Almost-boiling water is poured into the cups. The mixture is stirred for several seconds using a bamboo whisk.
3 or 4 teaspoons of tea are added to half a liter of water. A small amount is poured into each cup.
The water from the samovar is diluted. It can be sweetened with sugar or jam.
The tea is placed in the tea kettle and a small amount of boiling water is added. This water is discarded. The tea kettle is filled with boiling water and it is allowed to steep for several minutes.
The tea is served in glasses in which fresh mint leaves, “Nana,” have been placed.
To make tea for six people, a liter of milk is used and two tablespoons of tea are used. The milk is heated to boiling and is poured over the tea. This mixture is allowed to steep for five minutes and then it is served.
It is sweetened to taste and spices are added, such as cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.