Making the perfect cup of tea really depends on personal preference, so it’s always worth playing around with our suggestions if you prefer your tea stronger or weaker. But, tea leaves are pretty sensitive things so there are guidelines on water temperature, how long you should brew it for and how much tea you should use, to try and make that brew that’ll be full of all the wonderful flavours and just right.
It may sound silly, but you should always use fresh water from the tap, rather than re-boiling water already in the kettle; any residue or impurities in the water will affect the taste. The water at Tea Horse headquarters is very hard, so we use a water filter. Hopefully yours is a little nicer and you won’t need to, but the cleaner the water the better.
Different teas like different temperatures of water and this helps to bring out the flavour:
To get it to the correct temperature doesn’t require a thermometer (although feel free to use one, or one of those fancy kettles with digital thermometers built in), just leave the kettle to sit after it’s boiled for a few minutes:
For most teas, 2-3g - or 1 teaspoon - per person (per cup) is about right. If you like it stronger, just add a little more. For white tea though, which is lighter, add more – 3-5g, or 2 heaped teaspoons, per person.
Tea needs as much room as possible for the leaves to open out and infuse properly. If you’re using a teapot with strainer, just pop the tea straight into the pot, which gives it loads of room. When it’s ready, use the strainer to pour off the tea. Or, put the leaves into the pot’s infuser basket and remove this when the brewing time is up.
If you’re using a mug, you could use a metal infuser, although they tend to react with the tea, so best to use one of our Tea Horse tea filters. Open out the filter wide, put the tea inside and holding it up so it doesn’t fall into the cup, pour the water over it. If you can stand it up it’ll give the leaves more room to open out fully. When the time’s up, just remove the filter, which can go straight in the bin without any mess or fuss.
This is called ‘steeping’ in tea-speak. But we’ll stick to brew. With life being so hectic these days, we often don’t want to wait too long for our cuppa – but getting the brewing time right can really make a difference to the flavour. If you like your tea stronger though, don’t leave it for longer – as this will probably just make it bitter. Just add a little more tea. Under brewing can also give you a tea that doesn’t taste as good as it should. The amount of time you should brew the leaves for really depends on the specific tea, and there are different rules all over the Internet, but again, here’s a general rule of thumb. Pick an average, see how you like it and adjust to suit you:
You may have heard this, but we always thought it was a cast off from war-time rationing – but you can, and in fact should, infuse the tea leaves more than once. You probably wouldn’t do this with a tea bag as the taste won’t be the same, but good quality tea leaves actually give a slightly different, and sometimes even better flavour, when they are brewed a few times. Usually, 3 is the magic number, but some teas may take more or less. Increase the brewing time a little bit with each further infusion to get a little more flavour.
If your tea tastes too bitter or harsh, reduce the brewing time – and maybe the temperature of the water.
If your tea lacks some complexity, it’s probably that the temperature isn’t quite right, or that there’s not enough leaves used for the amount of water.
If you prefer your tea stronger, don’t brew it for longer (that’ll make it taste bitter) – just add a little more tea.
If you ever felt fancy and wanted to use mineral water, Volvic would be our recommendation, as it has a lower mineral content than some of the others.
If you’re adding milk and/or sugar to your black tea, you may want to brew it for a little longer.