5 mistakes you make when brewing loose leaf tea
So you decided you'd try some loose leaf tea. You heard all about how it's better than tea bags (which is true, btw), and now you're at home with only a vague idea of how to brew it. Well let's make sure you don't make these 5 mistakes when brewing your loose leaf tea.
1. You use too much tea.
Once in a while I get customers who tell me they go through my zip pouch teas wayyyy too fast. I ask a few questions to see whats going on with their brewing methods, and more times than not people are using way too much tea. You really only need 1-2 teaspoons of tea to 8 oz water (depending on your tea or tea blend). It's easy to remember if you think about it like tea bags- you'd only use 1-2 bags in your mug, right? So what would make loose leaf tea any different? If you're using too much tea you'll fly through your supply, and you'll have crazy strong tea every time.
2. You microwave your water.
This one hurts me to even think about; I cringe every time someone tells me they microwave their water. I know I might sound like a tea snob when I say that, but it's science!!! The way a microwave heats water to a boil is called a "still boil", meaning the water doesn't roll and bubble and move around the way it does in a kettle. Still boiling doesn't allow oxygen into the water the way a kettle does, which will in turn give your tea a flat or weird taste. Maybe your pallet for tea isn't refined enough to notice (or you don't really care), but once you do it's disgusting.
3. You steep your tea for too long or too short.
This is a pretty common mistake- one that even I'm guilty of doing (brews tea and forgets about it...). Some people prefer really strong tea (great!), but theres a difference between strong and bitter. Tea releases tannins when you brew it, but bitter tasting tea means you've steeped it to the point that the leaves started letting out too many tannins and now it tastes astringent, or bitter.
Alternatively, if you steep your tea too short, you won't get the proper flavor or experience. You'll get a more watered down flavor and less of the tasting notes that are supposed to jump out at you.
Every tea requires a different steeping time. So make sure you check on the packaging for brewing instructions.
4. You store your loose leaf tea improperly.
Loose leaf tea should be stored in an airtight container (don't worry, the zip pouches my tea comes in counts) and kept out of direct light- preferably in a cool dry place like a drawer or cupboard. If you put tea in a plastic bag you run the risk of your tea tasting like plastic because plants can easily absorb their surroundings. If you store it in a paper bag you run the risk of it drying out and it won't taste as good.
5. You're using the wrong method.
Loose leaf tea can be brewed numerous ways, but which one is the best? Ideally, loose leaf tea should be brewed in an open vessel, like a teapot, to allow the tea leaves to properly unfurl. When dry, the leaves may look small like they could fit into a tea infuser. But pour boiling water over them and after a few minutes it will look like you have a significantly bigger amount of tea than you started with. The tea leaves need room to expand and unfurl so you get the best flavor and aroma. If you're using a tea infuser and your tea is tasting weak, it's because the tea doesn't have enough room to expand and you're not getting a true brew. Try steeping it in a pot or another container and straining it out.
Have you made any of these 5 mistakes when brewing loose leaf tea? Brewing tea is an art, and though there are lots of specific ways to do it, it's my belief that you have to find the best way for you, because everyone enjoys their tea prepared differently.