One of the most popular beverages in the world, tea both unifies and distinguishes cultures from one another. But, have you ever had a cup of tea that just doesn't taste right, or left your mouth dry? There is an art, and a proper technique, to making tea.
To avoid that cotton-mouth feeling—caused by an abundance of tannins due to over-steeping — the next time we brew a cup of tea, we asked Emeric Harney of Harney & Sons, and the grandson of the founder John Harney, to show us how to make the perfect cup of tea.
1. Boil your water to the proper temperature for the tea you choose. For black and herbal teas, Harney suggests using water that is just below boiling, 208 degrees, and steeping the tea for about 5 minutes. For green, white, and oolong teas, Harney uses even cooler water, at 175 degrees, as these are less processed and more fragile teas, for about 2-3 minutes.
When boiling water, it is also important to choose purified water, as water with a lot of chlorine or heavy metals can affect the tea's flavor. And choose fresh water every time you want to brew tea — once water is boiled and cools, it has little dissolved oxygen — and never uses the "instant-hot" from your sink. Using freshly boiled water ensures there is enough oxygen in the water to bind with the essential oils in the tea, creating the aromas and flavors we enjoy.
2. While your tea boils, put together the cups and teapot you need to serve the tea.
3. Measure your tea: Depending on what kind of tea you prefer (tea bags, sachets, or loose tea), loose teas require you to measure out a teaspoon of tea per 6-8 ounces of water. Harney likes to use a little less water, and a little less steeping time, for a fully-flavored tea with little tannins. There is no measuring required for teabags or sachets, just keep in mind the volume of the cup or teapot you will be brewing the tea in when adding the water.
4. Add the water to the tea and let steep for the specified amount of time. Strain the tea or remove the teabags and enjoy.