How to Make 5 Different Types of Tea (And Their Benefits)
Many people think they don’t like tea, but chances are they just haven’t found the right variety or didn’t prepare it correctly. Drinking tea has been a time-honored tradition for over 5,000 years, and in that time, tea lovers have experimented endlessly to harvest the ideal tea leaves and prepare them perfectly.
While there are thousands of varieties of tea steeped across the globe, we’ll be focusing on five different types of tea and their benefits. If you’ve never made tea before or are looking to perfect your skills, here’s everything you’ll need to get started.
How to Make Tea: The Basics
As a general rule, start with the supplier’s recommendation on the box for how to prepare tea. Every tea is different, and the supplier will have tested the recipe at all sorts of brewing temperatures and steeping times to find the best combination.
However, many tea drinkers will say that half the fun is in the experimentation. They enjoy playing around with temperature, time, and concentration to get the perfect cup of tea. If you’re interested in experimenting with your tea preparation, here are some factors to consider.
Tea Brewing Temperature
The temperature of the water you use will affect the flavor of the tea. Experts say that when in doubt, always use cooler water. Water that is slightly too hot can ruin tea, but water that is slightly too cool rarely will (the tea just may not reach its full taste potential).
If you’re wondering “what temperature should tea be brewed at?”, the short answer is that it depends on the type of tea you’re brewing. However, as a general rule, tea should be brewed at temperatures between 160ºF and 212ºF (boiling).
Much like brewing temperature, your tea-to-water ratio will vary based on the tea in question. However, one teaspoon of tea leaves per eight ounces of water is considered the perfect tea-to-water ratio by many tea drinkers. Just keep in mind that most modern mugs fit between 12 and 16 ounces, so you may need to use additional tea if you want a full mug to drink.
Steeping Your Tea
Steeping is the process of extracting the flavor of the tea with hot water. The longer you steep the tea, the stronger it will taste. When it comes to how long to steep tea, it depends on the type, but the general rule is two to five minutes. Any longer and your tea may come out tasting bitter or acidic.
Adding Milk and Sugar
Just like many diehard coffee drinkers prefer their coffee black, many tea experts say that the drink is best enjoyed on its own. However, many people enjoy adding milk and/or sugar to flavor their tea and help it cool down faster to drink.
What to Eat With Tea
The truth is, the taste of tea can pair well with just about anything. Historically, it was served in the early afternoon with tiny savory sandwiches and baked goods. Many people also enjoy dipping biscotti or other cookies in their tea.
These days, just about anything goes. You can have a cup of tea in the morning with breakfast or in the afternoon with a snack. Just remember that most tea contains caffeine, so you may not want to drink it right before bed.
The 5 Most Common Different Types of Tea and Their Benefits
Nearly all teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but they can offer an array of diverse flavors. Check out these five different types of tea and their benefits.
1. Black Tea
Black tea is one of the most common types of tea in the world. It includes a number of popular teas like Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, and Chai. Black tea is made by picking, drying, and then heating the tea leaves to seal in a rich, full taste.
While green tea is often thought of as the healthiest tea, black tea may offer many of the same benefits. It’s a great source of antioxidants and can even help lower high blood pressure. Plus, it’s a great alternative to coffee or soda that still offers plenty of caffeine.
How to Make Black Tea
To prepare the perfect cup of black tea, start with a kettle at a full rolling boil. Add your tea bag or tea infuser into your mug and pour boiling water directly onto the tea to help the flavor diffuse. Your steep time will vary depending on the variety and strength desired.
Steep times for common black tea varieties include:
- 3 minutes for Darjeeling
- 4 minutes for English Breakfast
- 5 minutes for Early Grey
- 5 minutes for Black Chai
When the time is up, remove your tea bag or tea infuser. Add milk, cream, lemon, and/or sugar as desired, and enjoy.
2. Green Tea
When talking about different types of tea and their benefits, green tea is the first tea that comes to most people’s minds. It comes from the same plant as black tea, but it is not oxidized, which gives it a sweet and vegetal taste. Much like black tea, green tea is full of antioxidants that can help with brain function, fat loss, heart health, and more.
How to Make Green Tea
Start by boiling a kettle of water and letting it cool off for around two minutes (if you have a digital kettle or a thermometer on hand, aim for 165ºF). If your tea comes out bitter, your water is too hot. Add your tea bag or tea infuser to your mug and pour your hot water directly onto the tea to release its flavor.
Steep your tea for one to three minutes depending on your preference. The smaller the tea leaf pieces, the faster they will infuse. You may want to taste test your tea throughout the steeping time to find your perfect steep time. Once you’re satisfied, remove your tea bag or tea infuser and enjoy.
3. White Tea
White tea comes from the same plant as black tea and green tea, but is harvested very early before the leaves even unfurl on the plant. When talking about different types of tea and their benefits, white tea is often overlooked. But it is minimally processed, giving it a light, refreshing taste and helping it retain even more antioxidants than green tea.
How to Make White Tea
Start by boiling water in your kettle and letting it cool for one to two minutes (aiming for 175º). Since white tea is so light and delicate, we recommend using filtered water to avoid any unwanted hard water taste. Add your white tea bag or tea infuser into your mug and pour your water directly onto your tea.
While most steep times for white tea are between one and five minutes, times can range up to eight to ten minutes, so be sure to check the directions for your particular tea. Luckily, white tea is harder to over-steep, so there is some room for error.
When the time is up, remove your tea and enjoy. White tea is very delicate and can be overwhelmed by sugar and dairy, so we recommend enjoying your white tea as-is or with a drizzle of honey.
4. Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is a very broad category that includes chamomile, peppermint, rooibos, and ginger teas. Unlike the other tea types, herbal teas do not come from the plant Camellia sinensis. Instead, they are infusions of dried herbs, spices, and fruits into water. Their tastes range from zesty and spicy to sweet and floral.
Because they can be made from so many different ingredients, the benefits of herbal teas are extremely broad. Many contain antioxidants from their fruit infusions, while others (like peppermint and ginger) can help soothe sore throats and headaches.
How to Make Herbal Tea
Start by boiling a kettle of water to a full rolling boil. The hotter the water, the more flavorful the tea will be. Add your tea bag or tea infuser to your mug, and pour the boiling water directly on the leaves.
Let your tea steep for 10 minutes or to taste – the longer the steep, the more flavorful the tea will be. Unlike the rest of the tea varieties, it is extremely difficult to over-steep herbal tea, and some tea drinkers even steep theirs overnight.
Once you’ve reached your desired flavor, remove your tea bag or infuser and enjoy! Much like with white tea, herbal tea should be the star of the show, so we recommend letting its flavor shine with no added milk or sugar.
Oolong tea is often overlooked when discussing different types of tea and their benefits, but it is packed with tons of flavor and many of the same antioxidant benefits. This is because it is harvested later in the oxidation cycle than green tea, but before black tea, making it the best of both worlds.
How to Make Oolong Tea
Start with a kettle of boiling water. Allow the water to cool off for one minute, or until the temperature reaches 190ºF. Add your tea bag or tea infuser to a mug and pour the hot water directly to bring out the rich flavor of oolong tea. Steep your tea for two to three minutes before removing your tea bag or infuser and enjoy your drink!