There are few things more soothing to your soul than a nice, steaming cup of tea. But not just your soul; tea has long been revered for its positive effects on the body, too. In China, green tea has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herbal drink due to its high concentration of antioxidants. Today, adding a bit of honey to your green tea has been known to help alleviate a sore throat; chamomile is often used to combat insomnia; and black tea, when consumed in moderation, has been shown to help people relax by reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
So get your favorite teaware and good water (tap, filtered or spring is fine, as long as it tastes good) and start brewing.
Tea comes in countless varieties but one thing is the same. With the exception of herbals and rooibos (red bush tea), all teas are derived from the plant Camellia Sinensis and have caffeine. Here are a few of our favorites and some tips for brewing the perfect cup. A general guideline is to steep for a minute, then take a sip every 30 seconds until it’s just the way you like it.
Green tea: Measure one teaspoon (or 2 grams of leaves) for every 6 ounces of water, and heat water just short of boiling.
Temperature: 160-180 degrees
Steep: 1-3 minutes, slightly longer for Chinese green tea
White tea: This variety, which actually is pale yellow to light orange when brewed, comes in buds and light leaves. Use 2 teaspoons of buds or 2 tablespoons of leaves for every cup.
Temperature: 150-155 degrees
Steep: 1-5 minutes
Black tea: Use 1 rounded teaspoon (2 to 3 grams) per cup.
Temperature: 205-210 degrees (let water come to rolling boil)
Steep: 3-5 minutes
Oolong tea: This variety comes balled-up or as large, open leaves. Use 1 teaspoon of the balled-up kind or up to 2 tablespoons of open leaves. Put the leaves straight into the pot or in an infuser. Pour the water over the leaves, cover the pot and let it steep. If you’ve put the leaves straight into the pot, pour the tea through a strainer.
Temperature: 180-200 degrees
Steep: 1-5 minutes
Pu-erh tea: This one comes as a compressed piece, like a cake, or in loose-leaf form. If you get the caked version, you’ll first need to break apart the leaves. Use 2 teaspoons to 1.5 tablespoons of leaves per cup of water, depending on the leaf’s density. (If it’s very dense, use less. If lighter, use more.) Heat water to 200-210 degrees and first rinse off the leaves: put them in the pot, pour hot water to cover them, and immediately discard this liquid. Then add more hot water and steep.
Temperature: 200-210 degrees, just as the boil
Steep: 3-4 minutes
Yellow tea: This variety comes in a compact form (looks like a bird’s beak) and in “bud and two leaves” form. For the beaky kind, use a teaspoon; for bud/leaves, use two heaping tablespoons.
Temperature: 160 to 170 degrees
Steep: 2 minutes
Herbal tea: Metal isn’t good for the properties of herbal tea, so use a ceramic teapot instead. Use 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs (or 1 of dried), for every cup. Strain the leaves before drinking.
Temperature: To boil
Steep: 5 minutes
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