One of my favorite daily rituals is having my cup of tea in the morning. I start my day by getting my kettle going and steeping a hot cup of tea. I am huge fan of loose tea and have been for quite some time. Tea is becoming more popular these days in the U.S. with the emergence of bubble tea shops, matcha lattes and shaken iced teas. Before I began my culinary career, I worked in the food and beverage industry with a few different companies with a focus on TEA! I got to learn where tea came from, how it’s processed, and how long to steep the perfect cup.
Here are my 5 tips to get you started on your tea journey:
- Most teas come from the Camellia Sinensis. This plant is mostly cultivated in China, Japan and India. Mate (Yerba Mate), Herbal and Rooibos (ROY-BUS) teas come from other plants and berries that are harvested and dried to make tea.
- There are many ways in which tea is harvested, oxidized and processed. This gives each tea its distinct flavor, taste, color and aroma. For example, many Chinese teas are sun dried, dried by heat or pan dried. Japanese teas are mostly steam dried. Both of these techniques give the distinct color and flavor profiles to the tea such as floral (Chinese-think Jasmine tea) or grassy-ness (Japanese-think Sencha or Gyokuro). The longer the oxidation process the higher amount of caffeine is in the tea (think black tea).
- There a few main categories of tea:
- White: Very delicate tea. Harvested and dried. Low caffeine.
- Green: Chinese or Japanese. Grassy, floral or toasty. Low to high caffeine
- Oolong: Semi-oxidized Chinese tea. Usually curled and twisted in the processing. Medium caffeine.
- Black: Oxidized (which gives the tea its black color). Medium to high caffeine.
- Pu’erh: Chinese fermented black tea. Medium to high caffeine.
- Mate: South American tea. High caffeine.
- Rooibos: African Red Bush tea. No caffeine.
- Herbal: Dried herbs fruits and berries.
- How long should you steep your tea? Whether it’s a tea bag or loose tea, here’s a friendly guide to time, temperature and amount of tea per cup:
- White: 185°F, 1-2 min, 1tsp
- Green: 185°F, 1-2 min, 1tsp
- Oolong: 185°F, 1-3 min, 1tsp
- Black: 212°F, 3-5 min, 1tsp
- Pu’erh: 212°F, 2-5 min, 1tsp
- Mate: 212°F, 3-5 min, 1tsp
- Rooibos: 212°F, 3-5 min, 1tsp
- Herbal: 212°F, 3-5 min, 1tsp
- Step up your steeping game! The Chopping Block has some beautiful tea kettles from All Clad and Le Creuset, tea infusers, loose tea bags and mugs to help you get started. Choose what option works best for you. If I’m in the store, I’d be more than happy to help you start your tea journey, share a cup a tea with you or provide a recipe (like these Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes) that goes perfectly with a cup of tea.