Steeping & Brewing
Patience and creativity is the first step in brewing the perfect cup. You can follow the basic guidelines as directed below, but I always encourage, “creative play” when it comes to the ratio and steeping time. For instance, I like a very flavorful cup. I also tend to add 3 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of loose leaf tea to my infuser…Be creative!
When you steep tea, you are allowing the herbs to be submerged in hot water to infuse and extract the volatile oils. These magic oils are what is responsible for flavor and medicinal action! Steeping methods vary depending on what you are steeping, your intention – whether it is to extract a flavorful infusion or reap the medicinal benefits. The following are general suggestions on how to brew tea, but keep in mind the act of making oneself a cup or pot of tea is very personal and it is really between you, your precious palate and the botanicals . 1 – 2 tsp per 8 oz cup of water is standard.
Multiple Steeps You can get the most out of your cuppa by re-steeping. For each subsequent cup add 30 seconds to 1 minute of brew time. Note that the intensity of the flavor will change from cup to cup. Milk those leaves baby and enjoy their giving nature. Black, Green and White teas are produced from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. What makes this versatile plant earn its various titles is the oxidation method. Grab a spot of tea and read on!
Fancy Schmancy Ways to Steep Flowers, Roots, Mushrooms. Barks, Berries, Seeds, etc.
The decoction method is done by bringing water to a boil, covering the pot and simmering for up to 30 mins. Decoction is the best method to use with medicinal mushrooms ( yes, mushroom tea is good for you), hard roots, barks, non-aromatic seeds, etc. If you are planning on adding the softer botanicals (flowers, leafs, etc), add after you simmer and let infuse with your decoction for several minutes. You can store your leftover decoctions in a mason jar in the fridge for your enjoyment later.
Infusions are best made using lightweight botanicals. Think flowers, leaves, etc. When submerged in water this magical alchemical process takes place. Extracting the volatile oils from the plant material. Covering the brewing vessel you choose to use (french press, mug, tea pot, etc), will trap said oils and create one flavorful cuppa! Infusions are typically steeped for up to 20 mins depending on how medicinal you want your brew. After straining plant material, you can enjoy your beverage hot or store and save in the refrigerator for later use (preferable within a couple days).
To garnish tea is not only a great way to enhance and compliment the tea, but it is rooted in symbolism. In China, Chrysanthemum blossoms were floated in tea to wish you a long life. I nearly always garnish and/ or sweeten my tea depending on the flavors I wish to enhance. A fresh mint leaf, rosemary sprig, orange slice, ginger roots slice- endless garnishing options! You can even use a small cookie cutter shape to add flair to an orange or lemon peel. A long cinnamon stick or Licorice root gives it that extra dose of magical aesthetics and they make great stir sticks that can be dried and reused several times.
As always, learning what your palate prefers is dependent on your creativity and patience. Brewing tea from the highly versatile Camellia sinensis plant or brewing herbal teas is similar to self exploration. Be courageous and have fun with it!