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Brewing Times for Types of Tea

 By Katherine Burnett

Even though I often forget to watch the time when I've started a tea to brew, I definitely remind myself that tea does taste better when brewed properly.

This past Covid year, a close friend has taken a big interest in tea consumption mostly due to an awareness that she could be experiencing better health after being sick for several weeks with the virus. She needed to lose weight and get her energy back. She needed to feel better in order to be productive. She was experiencing anxiety attacks. Her doctor was concerned. It was time for a different approach and time to break some habits that somehow infiltrated her life over many years. It's not easy to break slowly developing bad habits, but one way to introduce a good dietary habit is to start drinking tea. 

She and her partner have been enjoying flavoured black teas from Lady Baker's Menu. She had been brewing these in a brewing basket or tea sac at the proper full boil directions and finding their preference at 5-8 minutes of brew time. That would be too long for my taste buds, but it worked for them. After drinking 2-3 cups each day, she decided to branch out and try some green and white teas.

I was a bit shocked when I got a call from her about her tea consumption. 

"What on earth is this White Peony?" she asked with a tone of disgust in her voice. 

I actually have been enjoying it immensely each day for some time now, so I was surprised as she went on about how awful it was! So I asked her how she was brewing it. It's white tea, I explained, and perhaps she was not brewing it properly. Her response:

"Boiling water, 8 minutes and then I add milk! It's awful!"

Indeed, I did agree, that would be awful! A little tea wisdom can go a long way!

Teas that have not been oxidized, like white and green teas are much more fragile when hit by water. Their delicate flavour compounds can be damaged. And when sitting in water, they need less time to extract their flavours and goodness. The goal is maximum flavour without bitterness.

Teas that have been partially or fully oxidized, like black or oolong, can handle the higher temperatures that actually help extract the complex flavours.

At Lady Baker's Tea, the team really tries to get out this message, but often in a fast paced setting in which so many people thrive, finding and following the brewing instructions on the back of our packages gets overlooked.

It is also a challenge to get the proper amount of teas like White Peony into the pot. Generally, we say one teaspoon per cup but the very loose and large leaves of the less processed tea don't sit very well in a spoon. Not everyone wants to get out a gram scale and measure their tea (me included). So, it's a matter of preference and practice for quantity of tea and brewing time. The following chart, however, is handy and helpful especially for the new at heart tea lover!

Tea Brewing Times and Temperatures

Tea Type

Celsius

Fahrenheit

Brewing Time

White Tea

65-70ºC

150-155ºF

1-2 min.

Green Tea

75-80ºC

165-175ºF

1-2 min.

Oolong Tea

80-85ºC

175-185ºF

2-3 min.

Black Tea

100ºC (boiling)

210ºF

2-3 min.

Herbal Tea

100ºC (boiling)

210ºF

3-6 min.

 

I wish there was a happier ending to my friend's experience with White Peony, that delicate and honey-sweet white tea. Much to my horror, before I was able to set her straight, she had thrown out the package, unable to imagine enjoying it!

It made me wonder how many disappointed people are out there, having given up on any attempt to like tea because they don't know this little secret of water temperature and brewing times. It really matters!

Another little tip that makes a big difference is putting a lid on the vessel while the tea is brewing. This helps to keep the flavours from disappearing into the air! Most teapots have lids but we often see a tea bag immersed in an open cup of water in a restaurant. It would be a wonderful service to have a saucer sitting on top during the brewing time!

And finally, once the tea has brewed, please enjoy it! Here's a couple of quotes that I hope speak to you as they have for me as we 'take time for what matters.'

Wherever you are drinking your tea, whether at work, in a cafe, or at home, it is wonderful to allow enough time to appreciate it.                                                    

And...

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the Earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.                                                                                                                                   -Thich Nhat Hanh

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2 comments

Monika Buckley

WOW! I was very happy to find your website, by accident.
I am a huge tea lover!! Mostly Earl Grey tea.
Thanks for listing the brewing times and the hint about covering a tea cup with a saucer while brewing!
I will look for your tea here in Ontario; I live in beautiful Halton Hills, Ontario. Otherwise, one day I will make the trip to PEI to visit ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and Lady Baker’s Tea!!
Tea hugs,
Monika

Your Friend

What a wonderful blog! I appreciate you explaining the brewing process and I promise not to “give up” on a tea before asking you! Many thanks beautiful soul. XO

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