It grieves me to the very marrow of my bones when I hear someone say that they don't like hot tea because it tastes too bitter. Actually, there is never a reasonable or acceptable reason to not like hot tea, but the bitter thing is a particular pet peeve. Let us not blame the nectar-like gift of the tea leaf for our inability to figure out how to properly brew a cup of tea. Brewing a perfect cup of tea is an art, but even the simplest of Lipton Drinkers out there can be taught!
- How long to steep depends on how strong you like your tea and the type of tea you're preparing. However, there are rules of thumb. Usually black tea leaves need to steep 3-5 minutes. They will often get bitter if you let them brew more than 6 minutes. Green teas often need only 1 minute, but if that isn't strong enough, some blends can steep 2-3 minutes. Oolongs should steep 2-3 minutes, and herbals can steep for 5-10 minutes.
- Small leaves brew more quickly and are usually ready in 2-3 minutes. Medium leaves in 3-5 minutes; large leaves in 6.
- Don't judge by color. Some teas brew light while others brew dark.
- Tea bags steep more quickly because the leaves are finely cut, so don't let them steep too long.
- If you have used an infuser or tea bags, remove them from the pot when the tea has reached the desired strength.
- If you place loose leaves directly into the teapot, you may want to pour the tea into a second warmed pot through a strainer to separate the tea from the leaves to prevent the tea from becoming bitter, or if you plan to pour all the tea into cups soon, simply place a strainer over the cup and pour slowly from the original pot.