If you are brand new to the world of loose leaf teas, then it's about time your tea tasted better. Our basic brewing guide should serve as a great starter to get you up and running on your journey into the delightfully delicious world of brewing loose leaf tea at home.
While there are a lot of variables in brewing beautifully flavourful loose leaf teas, there are some basic principles you need to get right no matter what type of tea or infusion that you are brewing.
First, find good tea
Source high-quality, whole, loose leaves, from a reliable retailer, either locally or online. Your infusion will only taste as good as the tea leaves you put into it, so make sure you get the best you can. For some more info on why you should choose loose-leaf over teabags take a look at this article.
Pick the right brewing equipment
There are many options out there today, from in-cup strainers and infusers to infuser teapots and even loose-leaf tea flasks with built-in infusers for tea on the go. There's no right or wrong here, but whichever equipment you choose to use, the main thing you need is a way to brew your leaves with enough space for them to unfurl and infuse, and then separate your leaves from the tea after the optimum brew time is reached to avoid over extracting and stewing the tea - aka Grandpa Style!
Pre-warm the brewing vessel
This quick and simple tip will help your tea brew just right, without this step, the water temperature will decrease dramatically, in a short space of time as it's energy is used up in heating the vessel (teapot, infuser, cup, etc) - meaning even if you carefully measure both your brew time and temperature, this initial drop in temperature will cause your perfectly planned extraction to suffer and be badly brewed. So, before you brew, partially fill your teapot (or any other brewing vessel) with freshly boiled water, swirl, leave for a minute, and then discard the water and proceed with your brew.
Leave space for expansion
Always ensure you allow enough space for your leaves to expand while brewing. In order to reap the most benefits, both in terms of flavour and nutrients, the leaves need room for the water to swirl around them, for the leaves to unfurl and have space to infuse effectively. Tightly packed leaves inside small infusers or tight teabags will inhibit the quality of the extraction, leading to flat or unbalanced tastes and uneven extractions.
Brew it, don't stew it
If you want a stronger brew, try more tea, not more time. By using more leaves, you can reduce the brewing time, while maintaining a fuller, richer taste and texture. The longer you let the leaves sit in the water the more likely you will over-extract the catechins and tannins in the tea, leaving you with a more bitter and astringent taste.
Like anything, there is some variation in terms of brew times, dependant on the specifics of the tea you are brewing and of course the nuances of your personal palate, but the approximate numbers below should provide a good starting point from which to begin getting your brew just right for you.
Black Teas: 3-5 minutes at 90-95 Degrees
Green Teas: 1-3 Minutes at 75-85 Degrees
White Teas: 1-3 Minutes at 75 Degrees
Rooibos or Red Bush: 3-5 Minutes at 95 Degrees
Herbal Infusions: 3-5 Minutes at 95 Degrees
Once is never enough
Once the tea is brewed, remove your leaves from the remaining liquor, gently pat dry, and set aside for another steeping. It's a little known fact that good quality loose leaf tea can be brewed for multiple infusions with a high-quality tea, producing anything up to 8 separate short infusions. If you're only steeping your leaves once, you are missing out on a whole selection of flavour variations, with each additional steeping bringing out additional flavours and elements within the balance of the brew, and it's also better value for you!
So, hopefully, that has given you a good grounding in loose-leaf tea brewing, and now you're all ready to go off and start experimenting on your own - take a look at our range of deliciously different loose-leaf teas and infusions to kickstart your loose-leaf brewing experience in unmatched style.