How to Brew Tea – Properly

August 13, 2009 / Daily Life / 13 Comments

As a child, my mother would tell me that I would learn to appreciate coffee once I became a grown-up, and that I would slowly move away from drinking tea. I’m now 23 – and that didn’t happen.

I became a tea nazi, instead. I need to have my tea brewed a certain way to get my “fix” every morning. And it’s gotta be English Breakfast – no wussy fruit infusions, no strange spices, and certainly no milk, although sometimes I like to drink juices since I found some easy healthy juice recipes online. Good tea should taste amazing alone.

So today, I’m going to teach you plebeians how to brew black tea bags. I’m being specific here because different type of teas are brewed differently, and since I only drink English Breakfast, which is part of the black tea family, I don’t know know how to brew anything else. (This is also why I call myself a tea nazi, not a connoisseur. But I digress.)

Tip #1: Use fresh tap water

It must come directly from the tap. Mineral water has um…minerals in it; these minerals tend to interfere with the brewing process. Also, water that has been still for a while will make the tea taste flat. So this also means you can’t use electronic water boilers.

Tip #2: Use boiling water only!

While the water is being boiled, put your tea bag in the mug. And wait. The moment your (electric) kettle goes off, run like you’ve seen Sadako and quickly pour the water into your mug! Even one second too late is no good; the tea will taste sour and flat. It’s gotta have that loud boiling noise as you’re pouring into your mug. This heat brings out the aroma and richness from the tea leaves.

Tip #3: Don’t touch! Let the tea brew!

Don’t stir. Don’t put your spoon in there. Just don’t touch! Let the bag sit for about 30 seconds – 1 minute, and then take it out. Higher grade teas will rarely over brew, so you can let it sit for a bit longer. I like my tea bitter so I sometimes leave the bag in the mug. But I doubt most people would enjoy that kind of bitterness. Haha.

Tip #4: Add milk and sugar later

If you insist on having sugar and milk, only add it after the tea been brewed. Adding milk before will prevent the tea from brewing. Although whenyou put sugar in your tea has tea doesn’t have a substantial effect, sometimes I find that the tea tastes a little chemical-like when I put sugar before adding in the water. So just to be safe, add it only after the tea has been brewed.

Et voila! You can now enjoy a good cup of tea!

Misc. Tip: Don’t export teas on your own!

I learned an important lesson when I moved from Malaysia to Canada: teas are heavily dependent on local water. While living in Malaysia, I used to drink Boh tea. It somehow complemented the less-than potable tap water there. The tea tasted very full-bodied. Then when I moved to Toronto, I decided to bring some Boh with me. But no matter how I brewed it, it was just horrid with Toronto’s tap water. There was a distinct piercing metallic taste. I couldn’t find the right tea… until I went to local supermarket to pick up Red Rose tea. It was no way as aromatic as Boh tea, but it tasted like tea, at least.

And now that I moved back to Singapore, nothing has come close to 1872 Clipper Tea Co. (not to be confused with Clipper Teas.) This is really how all tea should taste like! According to 11872 Clipper Tea Co., it’s also gourmet tea. And being gourmet, it’s a pain to find it. Lucky for me, it’s served at the Five Foot Way in my office building. So I get my frequent fix, but at a premium price (even after staff discounts!).

Hope you found this entry useful! All this talk about tea is creating a craving. Time for me to pay Five Foot Way a visit!

Are you a tea or coffee person? What kind of teas or coffees do you like?