tea, brew, steep, how to
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©2006 The Tea House Times


Do you know how to brew a proper cup of tea at home?  Does your restaurant or tea shop offer a properly brewed, decent cup of tea?  You certainly know how to brew a pot of coffee; tea isn’t any more difficult.  It’s time to train restaurant staff in proper tea brewing techniques to satisfy the growing consumer trend towards a healthy, tea drinking habit.


In the tea industry there is a lot of talk about properly brewing a tasteful cup of tea; and to tea professionals it comes easily, naturally.  Tea has come a long way since the invention of the tea bag.  Before tea bags, everyone used loose leaf teas.  Now people are getting back to basics and buying loose leaf teas for the higher quality and freshness it provides.  If you can brew a pot of coffee, you can certainly give tea the same amount of respect and brew up a fresh, delicious, pot of tea.  The key to serving delicious tea is proper water temperature depending upon what type of tea you are serving, and proper brewing time.


The biggest no-no in tea brewing is brewing loose leaf teas or even tea bags in the bottom of a teapot and then leaving them there for an undetermined amount of time.  A lot of restaurants and high class hotels serving afternoon tea do this. ~ The pot is then served to the guest with no way of removing the leaves.  Those fancy little strainers are nice to strain the tea into your cup, but only good if you are serving the entire pot all at once to a number of people.  Otherwise, the entire pot should be strained off into a different pot and served without the leaves floating on the bottom of the pot.  If leaves are left in the pot, the pot keeps stewing and the brew becomes completely undrinkable, bitter, and wasted.  Some restaurants and hotels then proceed to offer you more water to add to the tea still floating on the bottom of your pot.  This does not help at all.  It only waters down the bitter brew remaining in your pot.


In general, green teas require water just under boiling.  Black teas require water that has come to a full boil.  Green teas may be brewed, leaves removed, and brewed a few times over; still producing a fine, tasteful cup of tea.  Black teas should be brewed only one time and leaves removed and discarded.  For convenience you may purchase sacs for your loose tea (at your local tea shop).  Measure approximately one teaspoon per cup of tea into the sac.  Place the sac into your cup or pot and allow to brew 3-5 minutes depending on preference of tea strength.  Remove the sac and enjoy your tea.  Reuse your sac for another cup of green tea.


There are a lot of different ways to strain your tea leaves.  Baskets may also be purchased to nestle inside your teacup or pot.  Then when the tea is ready, remove the basket and discard the leaves.  You may also purchase a tea ball which serves the same purpose.  Just be sure whatever method you choose, that the basket or sac or tea ball is twice the size of your intended amount of tea leaves.  The leaves need room to expand and release flavor.


Now, does that sound so difficult?  If you can make coffee by measuring it out into a filter and brewing, you can certainly measure out tea and brew it with the same ease.  Gone are the days of thinking tea bags are the answer to a quick, good cup of tea.  Some tea bags ARE good, but loose leaf teas offer a longer shelf life and you also get more for your money, thus the best option for restaurants who wish to offer a fine cup of tea to their customers.


In the interest of time, restaurants may wish to allow customers to time their own tea, saving the server the time it takes to brew.  Serve tea in a pot (using a sac or basket for the leaves) along with a timer (set for when the server started the brewing) and perhaps a bread plate to place the sac upon when the tea has reached the consumer’s liking.  If the server will brew the tea, be sure it is fully strained into a different pot or use a sac or basket or tea ball and remove before serving.


Brewing up a proper cup of tea is not difficult.  Many people who have not yet become tea drinkers will likely change their minds if offered a properly brewed cup of tea.  It’s fun to experiment with tea and now loose teas and higher quality tea bags are being offered in tea shops and even supermarkets, making it very convenient for the consumer.  Enjoy your tea.

2003 - present