How to make the best tea can be pretty subjective considering the many different ways there are to drink this popular beverage. And it is extremely popular. According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., “On any given day, over 158 million Americans are drinking tea,” and, “Approximately four in five consumers drink tea, with millennials being the most likely (87% of millennials drink tea).”
So for all of the tea drinking millennials, or anyone who’s learning how to brew tea, these 15 facts will open up a whole new world of refreshment.
1. All the Tea in China
Tea was discovered in China — possibly as early as 2737 BC — where people drank it primarily for medicinal purposes for several hundred years.
2. Camellia Sinensis
All tea (white, black, green and oolong) is made from one type of plant — camellia sinensis, a small evergreen bush native to China and other areas of East, South and Southeast Asia. The way it is cultivated determines what type of tea is produced.
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3. Loose Leaf Tea
Tea bags began to be commonly used in the 1920s because of their convenience but there’s no question that loose leaf is the best tea. Unlike tea bags, you brew the whole leaf and it’s usually fresher which means more flavor and more of those awesome antioxidants.
4. Basic Teas
There are four basic types of tea: black, green, white and oolong. Black tea is the most common — it’s fermented which gives it a somewhat bitter taste and it also contains the most caffeine. Green tea has a lighter flavor and is loaded with antioxidants. Oolong is fermented less time than black tea so it’s got a deeper flavor. White tea is made from baby leaves so it’s much milder and lower in caffeine.
5. It’s All in the Water
Tea aficionados agree that the best tea is most definitely not made with tap water. Some even believe that the water is as important is the quality of your tea. For a truly spectacular brew use bottled or filtered water.
If you want to get really fancy about how to brew tea, use a samovar. Samovars were traditionally used in Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East to heat water for tea.
7. The Infuser
Now that you’re getting the idea that brewing the best tea is an exact science, you know even the tea infuser can make a difference. The main concern is choosing an infuser that gives the leaves room to expand as they brew to release the most flavor.
8. Steep Time
Steep time varies depending on how strong you like your tea but the general rule is three to five minutes. And don’t play with your teabag! Dunk it and let it sit until you’re finished brewing.
9. Cold Brew
Next time you have a yen for iced tea, consider cold brewing. Cold water affects the flavor differently than hot so you’ll get a whole new range of flavors. All you do is put loose leaves into a container with water, cover and refrigerate — the longer you brew, the stronger the tea.
10. Bubble Tea
Bubble Tea is quite possibly the least healthy version of our favorite beverage because of the high sugar content. It was created in Taiwan in the 80s and can be made with any kind of tea, which is mixed with sweetened milk or fruit flavoring and little tapioca balls.
11. Chai Tea
Chai is one of the best tea options around. It’s actually basic black tea mixed with milk and delicious spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Matcha is extremely high-quality green tea leaves which are ground into a fine powder. It’s traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies and has gained popularity recently because of its incredible antioxidant properties.
13. Happy Hour Tea
The flavor of tea is practically made for cocktails and the caffeine adds a little pick-me-up.
14. Health Benefits
Tea really is loaded with benefits beyond tasting great and giving you a caffeine boost. It powerful antioxidants, catchins and flavenoids, which can help your body burn fat as well as protect against UV rays and cancer.
Here’s another reason to opt for loose tea leaves. Tasseography is the art of reading tea leaves by interpreting the patterns they make at the bottom of your cup.