You can buy the best quality teas, but if you don’t brew them correctly, you never truly experience the tea.
Three most important things in brewing are - source of water, water temperature and brewing time.
First, choose your source of water carefully. Always use freshly drawn water from a filtered source. I prefer this over still water from a jug or a bottle. The only exception to bottled water is spring water bottled at source. That, in fact is the number one choice to brew tea, but ofcourse it may not be always affordable and available to every one. Hence, stick to freshly drawn as your first choice. Please remember - better water turns a good tea great and bad water can make even pricey tea taste sour and acrid. Hence, choose wisely. Never ever use hard water to brew your teas. It may turn out to be completely unpalatable.
Second, when you boil the water you must know what is the optimum water temperature for the kind of tea you are brewing. Quick guide >> Black and Oolongs - 100 deg. Green and White - 80 deg. This is blanket rule that works for most teas. However, if you are interested in the nuances of tea, read your brewing guide to find out what is the suggested temperature. All good quality teas come with a brewing guide. If you don’t find any such information, it’s probably some commercial lot sold to you in a fancy box. Now, I don’t expect you to add a thermometer to your tea brewing kit, so use your common sense. For teas that require 100 deg pour water immediately after boiling so that there is no change in temperature when the water hits the leaves. For 80 deg, be patient - and after the tea has been boiled, let it stand for 2-3 minutes. It will lose heat and reaches around 80 deg in 2-3 minutes (the duration may be shorter in cold climates. Hence, consider your actual room temperature when you do this.)
Last and the most crucial step is taking note of for how many minutes you brew the tea. Each tea has a different time at which the optimal flavour is released. The thumb rule is the longer you brew the stronger the tea tastes. Shorter brew makes a lighter cup. This should help you decide how you like your tea.
Quick guide >> Black and Oolongs - 2-4 minutes. Green and White - 1-3 minutes. This is blanket rule that works for most teas. If you’re brewing a tea for the firs time and you’re not sure, then it’s best to brew it for a shorter duration of time and taste it first. You can always put it back to brew for longer.
This is what I love about tea - if it’s too weak, you can pour it back to brew for longer. If it turns too turn strong you just add in water and dilute it. Voila! Your tea is brewed to your taste. Everyone likes their cup of tea in a different way. How would you brew yours?