Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tea 101 for Tea Time Tuesday

Did you ever wonder what makes tea really bitter sometimes? You brew up your tea 
and in taking that first sip you taste a very bitter taste, so you add more sugar or cream. 
I don't like to add sugar or cream to my teas. I love the natural taste of tea. 
But I don't like BITTER!

Did you know there is a chemical in tea that can make it bitter?
It's called tannin. The tannin is released when you put hot
water on the tea leaves. So to prevent your tea from being bitter,
you need to minimize the amount of tannin released into the tea you drink.

You need to consider the quality and type of tea you are brewing.
Teabags have smaller "fannings" of the tea that has been processed
in larger pieces for loose leaf packaging. The smaller the pieces,
the larger overall surface area you have to release tannins from.
In other words, you get more tannins per second from teabags
than from loose tea.

Have you ever noticed those brownish stains on the inside of your teapot?
  That stain happens to be traces of tannin.  If you let it build up, it will
eventually start to effect the flavor of you tea. To prevent this, rinse
out your teapot with warm water as soon as it's empty. After it is cooled,
wash it inside and out with BAKING SODA on the corner of a washcloth.
Soaps can leave a residue that affects the taste of your tea, baking soda
rinses clean and is the natural enemy of tannin since it is alkaline.
Use a baby bottle brush (used in cleaning the nipples) to clean out the spout

Taste the water you are using to make your tea. If you wouldn't drink it,
don't use it to make your tea! Use spring or filtered water. Don't
use distilled water for it has an absence of minerals altogether
and will make your tea taste flat.

Brewing time can be a little tricky. In general black teas are brewed
with water that is let come to "full rolling boil", but with green or white
teas its 140 - 175 degrees F.  Some teas don't follow the general rule
so read the labels for your teas. The companies want their teas
to taste good so their directions are probably going to be right.

You need to make sure that you are using the right amount of
tea for brewing. The general rule is one teaspoon or one teabag
of tea for each six fluid ounces of hot water. Measure how many
ounces your teapot holds then divide the number by 6. Now you
know how many teaspoons or teabags to use. Some teas need 
a little more or less, so read the label on your cantainer and see 
what the company suggest. If it doesn't taste strong enough, it's
recommended not to add more tea, but to buy a 
stronger tea.
 Here's the most important - - the BREWING TIME!
The longer the tea steeps, the more tannin is released.
When using teabags, there are tiny pieces for quick brewing,
which means the tannins are released much faster.
Most teabags should be removed from the hot water
within 40 to 60 seconds. Loose green tea should be
removed in 1 to 3 minutes, black tea in 4, and oolong in 3 to 4. 
The best thing about Herbal teas is that you can steep them
as long as you like. They have no true tea in them, therefore
no tannin. BUT once again, read your instructions on
the containers because some teas do not follow the standard rule!
Make sure, when using loose tea, that your infuser is large enough
to let the leaves unfurl. The whole leaves have been curled and they 
need room to open. If you don't have an infuser, you can use 
cheesecloth, which can be cleaned and used again. Or just
make sure to use a tea strainer.

So if all else fails and you still end up with bitter tea,
no amount of sugar can fix it. To make already brewed tea
less bitter, add a very small pinch of baking soda. Remember
that baking soda counter-acts the tannins. But if you add
more than just a tiny bit, your tea will taste like baking soda,
and you don't want that. Just a tiny pinch will do.

Well, there you have it! I love this saying in the above picture.
If you love drinking tea enough, you'll start understanding it
and your tea will always be very tasteful to your buds.

I would like to join Martha and Terri for tea time.
Don't you know, these ladies put in a tremendous time
for their tea time. They both have many lovey
tea sets and some of the most interesting subjects.
Pay them a visit and tell them that Brenda set you.

Here's to your health!


  1. Hi Brenda: I just learned so much today. Thank you so much for the information. I also want to tell you I always love to read your comments. They always make me feel so good. I look forward to hearing from you each week. Thank you for bring a smile to my heart each week. You are a dear lady. Hugs, Martha

    1. Ah, Martha. That is the sweetest thing to say. Now you have made my day!! I always look forward to visiting you.
      Hugs right back at ya.

  2. Wow...what a wealth of info! Thanks so much! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  3. Hello Brenda,
    I am so very impressed with your post! It is just full of such valuable tips for making a good pot of tea. I sometimes find no rhyme or reason why my tea is bitter, as I do all the things you have mentioned. I have learned that with tea bags of higher quality, I bring the water to a full boil, but I let it cool down a moment before pouring it into the tea pot. That seems to work sometimes.
    Some people would never clean out their tea pot! It's a rule! But what you say makes perfect sense to me. I often see in England peoples pots are very dark inside. Maybe one of our English tea party visitors will fill us in?
    I personally have always rinsed my pot out right away.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to put all this together.

    1. Wow, it has never dawned on me to NOT clean a tea pot, but you are right, I bet some wouldn't even think about it. It would be good to hear from others as to what they think about it or what they do. I'm glad you liked the post. And I'm really glad you visited.
      Hugs to you too,

  4. Fantastic post, Brenda! I don't have much opportunity to use loose tea, but I certainly would like to. It certainly would be worth it.

    You missed my Easter post, but I think you would like it. When you get a chance hop over and check it out.

    Marianne xo

    1. We have a tea shop in our mall. I plan to go soon. Wish you had time off when I'm off and we could go together.
      I'm going to check out your blog now...
      Love you,

  5. HI Brenda, I never was much of a hot tea drinker--until George and I got married. He had taught in China (exchange teacher) on about 4 different times ---so he learned the 'art' of making great tea... He has certainly made me a tea-drinker now....

    Loved your Easter pictures also... Your Grands are gorgeous!!!!!


  6. Wonderful, informative teatime post! Happy Tea Day!

  7. Nice tips...just remember, if the water is left to boil for a bit, it gets de-oxygenized and the tea will taste flat. You can also easily decaffeinate tea by steeping for 30-60 seconds, then THROWING that tea away. Pour fresh hot water over leaves and steep rec. time....voila! Most of the caffeine is gone. Super info: leaves need room, so you're right to suggest a large infuser :)