As a tea drinker, you probably know that there are two main ways to brew tea. The first is using traditional tea bags, which can contain “tea dust.”
Tea dust is actually broken-down tea leaves that get trapped at the bottom of the tea bag. The second way to brew tea is by using loose-leaf tea.
Although some people claim that loose-leaf tea is harder to use, it’s well worth it because it is way fresher than tea bags and will make your tea-drinking experience so much better.
How Much Tea Do You Actually Need?
Before you go to the grocery store to buy your tea, you might be wondering how much you’ll actually need. Of course, if you drink a daily cup, you’ll need more than someone who only enjoys tea occasionally.
According to an article by All Recipes, you should only use one teaspoon of tea leaves for every cup of water, and for every pot of tea you make, you should use one additional teaspoon.
Of course, this is just a general rule of thumb and you might consider experimenting with different water temperatures and blends of tea to find the perfect flavor for you.
Keep in mind that adding a smaller amount of tea should make your tea less strong while adding in more tea should make your tea taste more strong.
However some loose-leaf tea blends are more strongly flavored than others so if you prefer lighter-tasting tea, you can brew and steep your tea leaves in cooler water.
Types of Tea
Most tea drinkers are familiar with the three most common types of tea. These are black tea, green tea, and oolong tea. Loose-leaf tea can actually be more expensive than buying tea bags because fresh tea leaves are usually a higher quality than the tea that is found in tea bags.
According to the article by All Recipes mentioned above, some of the most common black tea blends are English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
Although black tea is known to have a deep flavor, it doesn’t usually taste bitter. Because black tea doesn’t often have a bitter aftertaste, it is one of the most popular tea blends to drink.
The next common tea blend is green tea. Some people don’t know this, but green tea actually comes from the same tea leaves as black tea.
Green tea leaves are just dried right away, which makes the tea have a lighter and sometimes slightly bitter taste. The most common blends of green tea are Matcha, Gunpowder, and Tencha.
The last common type of tea is oolong; according to the same article by All Recipes, oolong tea is actually fermented. The fermentation process used to dry the leaves gives oolong tea a delicate, light taste.
Now that you know a little bit about the common types of tea and how many tea leaves you need per cup, you may be wondering what the best way to make a cup of tea is.
In an article by Oh, How Civilized, the author suggests that there are only five steps to making a proper cup of tea.
This particular article suggests that using filtered water and loose-leaf tea is the first step to making a proper pot. By far the most important parts to tea making are water temperature and how long you spend steeping your tea.
Water temperature is important because some tea blends, such as green tea, can actually be more sensitive to water at higher temperatures while some blends, such as black tea, aren’t.
Steeping is important because different types of tea will require different steeping times and over-steeping will often leave your cup of tea tasting bitter. Since green tea blends can already have a bitter aftertaste, it is important to follow steeping recommendations if you don’t want to drink a bad cup of tea.
The general steeping times that are suggested in the article mentioned above are different for all three types of tea. For example, black tea usually takes about four or five minutes to steep while green and oolong tea should only take about three minutes.
Once your tea has been properly brewed and steeped, the last thing to do before enjoying your tea is to put it into a warm teapot. Because tea can be very sensitive to the wrong temperature, using a warm teapot instead of a cold one will help your tea maintain the correct temperature for the blend you are using.
Why Grind Tea Leaves?
Of course, by now you know how important loose-leaf tea is to making an enjoyable cup of your favorite beverage. But why even worry about grinding the leaves? The simple answer is because you will have a more flavorful cup of tea. Let’s unpack this.
Tea bags are filled with ground tea leaves and they can go stale. This is why you want to use freshly ground tea leaves whenever you decide to have a cup of tea. Freshly ground leaves are also different from teabags because fresh tea leaves usually make the quality of tea higher.
Grinding your tea leaves can actually make it easier for the flavor to be extracted during the brewing and steeping processes, which will leave you with a more flavorful-tasting cup of tea.
Using unground tea leaves will give you a lighter, less flavorful tea that won’t be as healthy for you. Grinding your leaves will make your tea more healthy because the nutrients in the leaves can be more easily infused in the water when your tea is steeping.
The Best Way to Grind Tea Leaves
As you can imagine, there are several different ways to grind tea leaves ranging from using a leaf mill to a pestle and mortar, your coffee grinder, or even a blender.
According to an article on EHow, the traditional way to grind your tea leaves is to use a stone grinder or mortar and pestle. All you have to do is add a small amount of tea leaves to your mortar and pestle and grind them until you get a fine powder.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a tea leaf mill, a blender, or a coffee grinder to achieve the same results. In an article by Cookpad, it is suggested you only grind or blend your tea leaves for three seconds so you don’t accidentally make the grounds too fine.
If you still think that your grounds are too big after the first grind, you can always go back through and blend them again for another few seconds. Keep repeating these steps until your tea leaves are as coarse or as fine as you would like.
If you want to make sure that your tea is as healthy as possible, EHow recommends that you don’t use an electric grinder to grind your tea leaves. Electric grinders can generate heat while they are working and heating up your tea leaves before you start to brew a pot of tea can actually remove some of the nutrients in your raw tea leaves.
In general, though, ground loose-leaf tea is the way to go. It isn’t a time-consuming process and it can increase some of the health benefits of drinking tea. Freshly ground tea won’t be as stale-tasting as the tea found in tea bags and you will be able to customize and create unique blends of tea for the perfect cup every time.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.