12 Facts Every Tea Drinker Should Know - Steepologie

12 Facts Every Tea Drinker Should Know

Adding milk to your cup can help keep your teeth white?! That and more - read on!

Tea is a staple for many, whether starting or ending the day (or both!), and for good reason—it's comforting, delicious, and pairs well with a variety of foods. This centuries-old beverage offers a caffeinated alternative to coffee and boasts numerous health benefits according to various studies. With thousands of varieties, there's truly a tea for everyone!

Mastering the art of steeping tea at home is a game changer and it's a pleasure when we convert new customers from bagged tea to loose tea. By considering factors such as temperature, water quality, and serving size, you can craft the perfect cup in your own kitchen. Each type of tea leaf has its own ideal steeping time, so read on to learn more. We've also included fun facts about tea's rich history and alternative uses for tea bags.

From tips on selecting the perfect tea for your taste to exploring the vast array of flavors (including a tea that closely resembles coffee!), there's always more to discover and love about the world's most widely consumed beverage—second only to water. So, grab a warm mug of your favorite blend (we're partial to calming herbal teas this time of year), cozy up, and enjoy these fascinating tea facts.

1. Not all teas are created equal

Most teas—black, green, oolong, and white—come from the Camellia sinensis plant and are naturally caffeinated. Herbal teas, on the other hand, are made by infusing dried herbs, fruits, or flowers, such as chamomile or hibiscus flowers. Red tea, also known as rooibos, comes from a South African plant and falls into its own unique category. There is also Mate, which hails from South America and is one of the few plants that are naturally caffeinated.

2. The perfect steeping temp depends on what you're steeping

Green and white teas require water between 175 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit so you don't burn the delicate leaves. However, herbals and rooibos needs boiling water of 212 degrees Fahrenheit for flavors to fully drop. Keep your black and oolong teas somewhere in between.

3. The type of water you're using to steep your tea can make or break your experience

Knowing if your tap water is considered high in minerals (hard water) or low in minerals (soft water) is critical, as it can deeply affect the tea's taste. Too hard and you'll get a metallic flavor, while too soft can lead to bitterness. If your tap water doesn't taste great straight out of the sink, consider filtering it before boiling. Also, never reuse water after it's been boiled as oxygen depletion affects taste too.

4. The ideal steeping time depends on the tea type

Green tea tends to brew in around 2 to 4 minutes, while black tea may need to steep for up to 6 minutes. You can see a handy list of all steeping times HERE

5. Serving size can differ depending on the type of tea

The looser the tea leaf, the more you need to use to make a great cuppa (think chamomile vs. an assam). If you're noticing bitterness, try using fewer leaves next time around.

6. Avoid using the microwave to heat  your water

Temperature control is important as noted above - microwaves will never leave you with as good of a cup as a kettle with temperature control does.

7. You can control tea caffeine levels through steeping time

This one is counter-intuitive, but we've tried it and it works: shorten your steeping time for stronger tea.*1 This is because the longer you steep compounds called thearubigins leak out of the plant and bind to the caffeine. This causes caffeine to have a hard time binding to your brain receptors to wake you up. Of course you'll get more flavor with a longer steep time so it's a balance one has to find to their own liking.

For less caffeine, you'll want to do a quick steep, pour out the brew, and re-steep it. By doing so, as much as 80 percent of the caffeine will be cut out!*2

8. Cold steeping reduces bitterness

Some of us have no tolerance for bitter tastes. Cold steeping is a slower process that lessens the risk of bitterness caused by over-steeping. It works for all loose leaf teas, including oolongs and herbals. We use our Perfect Iced Tea Pitcher to cold steep overnight - you can find that HERE. Just pop in 1 oz of loose leaf tea, fill with water and refrigerate over night.

9. Making iced tea takes more tea

When steeping iced tea, you'll need to double the amount of tea leaves you'd normally use when steeping hot tea. This ensures that the ice doesn't dilute the flavor.

10. Loose leaf tea is more flavorful than bagged tea

OK, so maybe we're biased but it's SO true! Although convenient, those grocery store tea bags have higher levels of bitter tannins than loose leaf options and they are not the same quality or freshness of loose leaf tea. It's also much easier to over-steep tea bags, leading to a harsher flavor, due to the fineness of the tea as opposed to a fuller leaf.

11. Loose leaf teas are better for the environment than bagged tea

While the convenience of bagged tea is appealing, the paper and plastic often ends up clogging landfills. However, loose leaf varieties require less packaging and thus produce far less less waste—plus the leaves can be composted!

12. Steeping your own tea is healthier than buying it bottled

Bottled store-bought tea may not contain as many cancer-fighting antioxidants as the tea you steep freshly at home.*3 Drink manufacturers often remove nutritious polyphonous from tea to make the drink less bitter (and therefore, more palatable) for public consumption. One of the top reasons to drink tea is for the health benefits so why limit that?

We have dozens more facts every tea drinker should know, including that adding milk can help keep your teeth white - stay tuned for part 2!

*1 Source Life Hacker
*2 Source Life Hacker
*3 Source Chemister for Life


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