The Key to Great Tea

The Key to Great Tea

Drinking tea can be a great way to gain health benefits! How? Herbal ingredients added to some tea blends have been found to help relieve a variety of health concerns. Did you know that some ingredients in tea blends can provide menopause symptom relief, especially when taken with menopausal supplements? Of course, not all teas are equal to the task of relieving symptoms and providing health benefits. So, if you’re looking to get the most out of your tea, why not try making your own?

Now, that may sound like a laborious process, but don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. This is the ultimate key to making your own tea! 

The Key to Great Tea

The Key to Great Tea is a Great Base

If you’re looking to create a tea that reaps the most health benefits, your tea base needs to be functional, not just tasty. There are two things to consider when choosing a tea base, especially a functional one. 

1) What health benefits can my base provide

2) What are the steep times of this base, and how can they change the flavor?

Let’s look at both of these factors in more depth. 

Determining Health Benefits of a Base

There are plenty of routes you can take when choosing a tea base, but when creating a functional tea, you should look at the difference between two choices: true teas and tisanes. 

What Are True Teas?

True teas are teas that come from the camellia sinensis plant. True teas encompass the five primary tea bases that most people are familiar with. These five tea bases are white tea, green tea, black tea, Oolong tea, and Pu’erh Tea. These tea bases are variations of the major processes that the camellia sinensis leaves undergo to create tea profiles. 

What Are Tisanes?

Tisanes are water-based infusions of herbs, spices, flowers, leaves, berries, and barks. Tisanes are made from a variety of other plants and infused with other ingredients to create flavor profiles. They also tend to have a wider array of health benefits, as they’re used in tandem with other herbal ingredients to create well-rounded flavor profiles. 

What Are Their Respective Health Benefits?

When determining the health benefits you want from your tea, it’s important to keep this in mind. 

True teas can provide a foundational level of health benefits with certain compounds found in the camellia sinensis plant. True teas contain antioxidants, called polyphenols, that can help boost immune health. They also contain phytonutrients, which are small amounts of vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that can support some health functions in the body.

Tisanes can be used to target and improve specific health benefits. An example of this is stress-reducing tea. Teas that are marketed to relieve stress and anxiety are typically tisanes that have been designed to relieve those specific symptoms. 

Deciding on a Steep Time

Choosing your tea base requires more than just identifying the health benefits. It’s also important to know how your tea base will impact your tea’s flavor. This essentially all boils down to one component, steep time. 

Your steep time can change the taste of your tea throughout the tasting experience

Your steep time can change the taste of your tea throughout the tasting experience. There are general guidelines on how long you should steep your tea as well as its temperature and environmental conditions. 

True Tea Steeping Guidelines

White Teas: Steeping times for white teas are around 2 to 3 minutes, and a pot should always be made using water that’s just short of boiling. Using hotter water and prolonging the steep time will make the tea taste bitter.

Green Teas: Steeping times for green teas tend to be around 3 to 4 minutes and should also be made using water that’s short of boiling. Using hotter water and prolonging the steep time will make the tea taste bitter. 

Black Teas: Steeping times for black teas tend to be anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes with boiling water. Black tea is naturally a little more bitter than white or green teas, but if it begins to taste burnt and loses some of its acidity, that’s a sign that you may have steeped it for too long. 

Oolong Teas: Steeping times for Oolong teas can be anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes long and should be made with boiling water. Oolong teas have more savory notes, like spice and caramel. They can also have some minerality to them. So if you don’t get spice notes in your oolong, then it may be a sign you haven’t steeped your tea long enough. 

Pu’erh Teas: Steeping stimes for Pu’erh teas and other similar teas are also around 5 to 7 minutes and should be made with boiling water. Pu’erh teas can encompass a variety of notes, mainly nutty, earthy flavors. If those flavors are not present in your tea, it could be a sign that the water was not hot enough or that you need to extend your steep time. 

Tisane Steeping Guidelines

The steeping recommendations for tisanes vary depending on the number of ingredients used and the types of ingredients used. Tisanes that are lighter with brighter floral and citrus notes may only take 3 to 5 minutes to brew. Whereas tisanes that are darker, with heavy notes of spice, nuttiness, and potent herbals, could take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to steep properly. It takes time for the flavors in tisanes to develop properly. So make sure to note if your tisane is on the lighter or darker side. 

Now That You Know

Now that you’ve got the key to tea-making, try brainstorming a few ideas. You’ll be on your way to becoming a master teamaker in no time! 

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