Brewing a perfect cup of tea
Understanding what factors affect the taste and the level of chemical inside your morning cup of tea
A cup of tea is an ideal beverage to start your day. Unlike coffee, tea ramps up your alertness gradually. In the mean time, tea also relaxes your mind. It has been consumed by people in all parts of the world since ancient times.
To brew a perfect cup of tea, one needs to understand all the factors that affects the taste as well as the effects of tea to our body. Tea contains caffeine, the primary ingredient that stimulates our mind. Tea also contains Tannin, the ingredient that causes the bitterness as well as the dark color. Besides, tea contains L-theanine as well as flavonoids that cause soothing experience and fighting cancer respectively. In order to adjust the concentration of these ingredients, one has to take into consideration several factors.
First of all, the types of tea. Generally speaking, there are four main types of tea according to its fermentation time. Black tea is the type of tea that are fully fermented. The longer the fermentation time, the highest level of caffeine you can get from tea. Oolong tea is semi-fermented and therefore contains less caffeine than Black tea. Green tea and white tea contains the lowest caffeine since they are not fermented at all. The difference between these two types of tea is that white tea is made of just the buds instead of the leaves. Keep in mind that these four basic types of tea are related to the fermentation process and have nothing to do with species.
By weight, tea contains more caffeine than coffee. But when brewed, a cup of tea usually contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee. When boiling water is pouring into tea leaves, most caffeine is released within the first 90 seconds. So, to reduce the level of caffeine, simply lower the steeping time. A cup of black tea could have lower caffeine that a cup of green tea if the steeping time is less than normal, for example. In addition, in case you want to make a decaf cup of tea, simply brew for 90 seconds, throw away the water and brew another one. More than 80% of the caffeine will be gone.
Tannin is the culprit of tea bitterness. The longer the steeping time, the more tannin is released into the water. It is advisable not to brew tea more than 4 minutes to avoid bitterness. Anyway, longer steeping time also causes more L-theanine which gives tea a soothing effect. So you need to balance the two effects. If you want to enjoy the relaxing effect of drinking tea, you have to brew tea at longer time and therefore have to bear with some bitterness. You may solve that problem of bitterness by adding milk to your tea as well.
There is no consensus as to how many loose tea should be used to produce a cup of tea. But in general a tea spoon of loose tea is appropriate for a cup of boiling water. And usually tea bags require less steep time than loose tea. The typical steep time for green tea might be 2 minutes for tea bag and 4 minutes for loose tea and for black tea is 4 and 7 minutes respectively.
To ensure quality, store tea leaves in an air tight container. It should lasts as long as six months. To keep them for a year, freeze them in the fridge.