Tea is a drink made from natural tea leaves that are soaked in hot liquid to enhance their flavor, a process known as steeping. The leaves are available in two forms: loose or packed in a teabag, a small nylon or silk package with a string on the end. Loose tea leaves may be messier and less convenient than teabags, but allow the drinker more freedom in choosing the specific type of tea leaves. The string handle on teabags may be preferable to some tea drinkers because it is easier to remove after the steeping process.
Tannin is a natural substance found in tea leaves that can give tea a bitter taste. If you steep tea for the correct amount of time, the actual flavor of the tea leaves will become enhanced. Too long of a steeping time will bring out the taste of the tannin and may result in a tea with such a bitter taste that you cannot effectively taste the flavor of the tea leaves.
Unfiltered tap water may contain minerals that can interfere with the tea leaves’ natural flavor, so you may prefer to use bottled water to ensure the best taste. The average ratio of water to loose tea leaves or teabags is one cup (240 ml) of water for every one teaspoon (5 ml) of loose tea leaves or every one teabag. If you don’t have a teapot to steep tea in, you can simply use a large saucepan. Add the water into your teapot or saucepan and warm it on your stovetop until it starts to lightly bubble. This will ensure the water is thoroughly warmed through without being hot enough to burn or otherwise alter the taste of the tea.
Once the water is warmed through, you can begin the steeping process. Turn off the stove and move the teapot or saucepan before you steep tea or you risk overheating the tea leaves. When you steep tea, the main objective is to infuse the water with the taste of the tea leaves, not to actually cook them.
Add one teaspoon (5 ml) of loose tea leaves into a tea infuser, a device that holds the loose tea leaves in place and looks like a strainer, or use one teabag for each cup of warmed water. Let the infuser or teabag rest in the warm water for approximately five minutes so they can color and flavor the water. Discard the tea leaves or tea bag, then pour into cups and serve. If the tea is too bitter for your liking, you can add sugar, honey, or milk to mellow out the flavor.