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A man drinking a cup of tea from a ceramic mug

How to Drink Tea: Learn the art behind your amazing cup of tea!

Oct 15, 2023

Shanika Dasanayaka

English breakfast tea, Afternoon tea, High tea, Black tea, Green tea; all these words sound strange to me! I need to drink a cup of tea, but there are many complications! Can someone simply explain to me how to drink tea?

Well. You are not the first to feel this way, and that's why Tea J Tea created this incredible tea education journey along the way. First, remember that the world of tea is not as complicated as you feel, & it gets delicious as we go deeper on this path. Tea is a brew from heaven. The value of this brew lies not only in the tea but also in how we prepare it. Do you know how to prepare this heavenly brew perfectly and how to drink tea? Well, many believe they know it, but they don't.

Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by steeping crushed and dried tender leaves of the tea plant (Camelia Sinensis) in freshly boiled water. As you already know, there are several tea types, like black tea, green tea, oolong tea, white tea, Pu–erh tea, sencha tea, and so on. All these have identical processing styles, making every tea type have different characteristics. So all these unique tea characteristics become visible when we prepare it correctly. 

What does this mean? Just pouring water over tea and filtering out the infusion is not always the best way of making a cup of tea. It is an art you should practice sufficiently to experience a delightful cup of tea. Let's find out the best way to prepare a cup of tea and how to drink tea correctly.

Before Learning "How to Drink Tea," Know the Tea Basics

Tea is an evergreen shrub native to China and commercially cultivated mainly in India, Kenya, Ceylon, Japan, and Vietnam. As tea is grown in different climatic conditions, it can come with unique flavor attributes. Therefore, many methods and rituals exist to process these teas, as we must preserve their unique characteristics. Similar to processing, there are many different methods to make a teacup using each tea to express the said characters. Tea has different characteristics, so there is always a pattern to prepare for its best outcome. During this preparation, three main things should be kept in mind. Those are the right tea, the right temperature, and the right time.

Choose the Right Tea

As discussed above, the tea plant is grown in different soil and climatic conditions in different countries. Therefore, this differentiation creates unique characteristics in a tea leaf. All these tea types do not follow the same technique of pouring hot water over it, steeping it for a few minutes, filtering out the brew, and drinking it. There is always a unique art of making a teacup for each tea type, leading to a perfect cup of tea. The ultimate objective of having a cup of tea is to relax your mind and body. When choosing a tea, you have to think if the tea fits your mood and other conditions. Apart from that, different teas come with different price tags; the tea should also match your budget.

Choose the Right Temperature

Different water temperatures suit different tea types. Some teas may deteriorate their qualities with high temperatures, and some may give off unpleasant odors and flavors when steeped in water that is too hot.  Vice versa, some teas may not give their best characteristics without the correct temperature. The steeping temperature of a tea depends on the type of tea that you are brewing. White and green teas can scorch easier than black tea and pu-erhs, while oolong tea can fluctuate slightly based on its oxidized level.

Generally, it is ideal for steeping green and white tea at 170- 175 °F and black tea, Pu-erh, and oolong tea at 180- 212 °F. For herbal tea and flavored teas, there needs to be more concern about temperature and selecting the best temperature that retains its characteristics and flavors. 

Choose the Right Time

Each tea steeping has a specific period to give off its best features and flavors. Imagine a situation where we forget to filter out the infusion; the tea brew becomes cold, overly bitter, overly astringent, and undrinkable. There is a specific time for brewing each tea, resulting in the best flavor combination of the brew. It would be essential to identify this particular steeping time, which is one of the central answers to the question "How to drink tea

Green tea and white tea are ideal for steeping for 1- 3 minutes, black tea and Pu-erh tea for 2- 4 minutes, and herbal tea for 2- 5 minutes. This time could vary based on your personal preferences and how many times the tea has been already used to make tea.

How to drink tea?

Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, next to water as a comforting treat. Having a delicious tea is highly related to the mental condition of an individual, and a teacup can heal a person mentally and physically. However, many might not know how to drink tea the proper way. As there are countless tea types consumed in the world as tea, each needs careful preparation to retain its qualities. So here are some critical tips you should know to answer the question of how to drink tea.

Before "how to drink tea," How to Choose a  Tea?

Having said there are so many types of tea, the first question that comes to mind is what tea is to drink. Various types of tea are consumed worldwide, like green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, yellow tea, herbal tea, and so on. Every tea type has different flavors and gives various health benefits. So, it is up to you to decide which tea suits you, which tea pairs with the situation, and know how to drink tea.

Green Tea

Green tea originates from fresh tender leaves of the tea plant. This tea goes through a steaming process and doesn't follow any oxidation phase like in black tea. The brew has yellowish color with a delicate, light astringent taste. Some say green tea tastes too bitter sometimes, but this is mainly due to the wrong preparation. A perfectly made green tea would delight you with its unique taste properties.

Green tea has many health benefits like detoxing, decreased blood pressure, weight loss, burning cholesterol, reduced anxiety, anti-aging, and many more. As it contains antioxidants, it can fight against cancer-causing cells as well.

Black Tea

Black tea also starts its journey with fresh, tender leaves of the tea plant. Black tea is an oxidized tea with chemicals like theanine & caffeine. This combination can keep you awake and increase your alertness. Black tea gives a bright red brew with a delicate astringent flavor. 

It has several other health benefits, like soothing intestinal distress, reducing cardiovascular disease risk, boosting the immune system, preventing cancer, fighting against inflammation, and many more.

White Tea

White tea stems from the buds of the tea plant, which goes through only a withering process. It has the highest amount of antioxidants any beverage has & the tea has a pale yellow brew with a delicate mild water-like taste. It is a costly treat compared to other teas due to its higher health benefits & scarcity. The tea can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi in your body better than other teas due to its higher antioxidant levels.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea uses the tender leaves of the tea plant & it goes through an intermediary production process in-between black tea and green tea. Therefore, it possesses both characteristics of green tea and black tea. The tea has a yellowish orange brew with a taste between green and black tea. Oolong tea also contains antioxidants and caffeine and delivers health benefits that both green and black tea have, as mentioned above.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas do not have a specific definition, and those are made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots instead of leaves from the tea plant. (Read more about herbal teas) Herbal teas possess different flavors and characteristics as they fuse with all the above, and there is freedom for the creator to blend any herb, fruit, seed, or leaf as it generates the exact requirement of what the creator wanted. The taste, color of the brew, and health benefits depend on the items used for the blend, and sometimes additional flavors are used to enhance the flavor of herbal tea.

How to drink tea? : Loose Leaf Tea or Tea Bags

There are mainly two types of tea packaging available in the market. One is loose tea, and the other is tea in bags. Loose teas come packed in pouches, packets, or tins, and you are free to use any quantity of tea per your requirement. However, it has a slightly complex process compared to tea bags. Tea bags contain a specific amount of tea and are convenient for making a teacup. However, it can only go through one steep cycle, and you can't do experiments with it for multiple steps.

Many believe that loose-leaf tea has a fresher flavor than tea bags. Agreeably, you can get the real tea experience through loose tea rather than from tea bags.

How to drink tea? : Tea Making 

Once you pick your tea, you can move on to the process of making tea. This step is crucial because many don't know how to drink tea by making it well. This is the step where all your creativity comes to play and helps you to make a perfect cup of tea.

Though you have selected the most expensive, the best tea in the world, if you do not make it well, you will not be able to enjoy its genuine flavors. So, learning how to make tea would help you experience a better tea as it gives out all its characteristics and health benefits.

Gather the Required Equipment

To make a perfect cup of tea, you must gather a kettle or saucepan to boil water, a teapot or mug, and a small portion of your selected tea. Remember that these utensils must be clean and free of odor and other impurities. The water should be drinking water, and the tea should have been stored in an airtight container before taking out. These small acts would not do much to improve the taste of tea, but these acts would not ruin your teacup.

Boil Some Water

Fill a kettle or saucepan with fresh water and place it on your stove over medium-high heat. The temperature that water heats would affect the tea brew depending on the type of tea that you use. If the water is under heated, the taste properties of the tea will not come out properly. If water is overheated, the taste compounds and flavors will burn out. Therefore, boiling water is an important aspect when making a teacup.

Prepare to Brew Loose Leaf Tea

While boiling water, you can measure and place the required quantity of selected loose tea into the infuser. The taste of the teacup depends on the amount you add to the infuser. Suppose the measured quantity is below the recommended level. In that case, the tea will not give its best taste, and if the amount exceeds the recommended level, it will provide a strong yet unpleasant taste. The instructions on the tea container will indicate how much tea you should add to the strainer. Generally, the recommended quantity is 2- 3g.

Prepare to Brew a Bag of Tea

If you use a tea bag to make a teacup instead of loose tea, adding one tea bag per tea cup is ideal. Generally, a tea bag contains 1.5- 2.5g of tea, and a teacup holds around 8 ounces of water (240 ml). Carefully read the instructions mentioned in the tea bag container for additional information.

Steep the Tea in Boiling Water

Carefully pour water into the mug or teapot once the boiling water reaches the exact temperature. If you use an infuser, pour water into the cup or teapot and then put the infuser containing tea. Then you can see how the tea is extracted into the water, which is pleasing to watch.

Serve the Tea

After steeping the tea or tea-containing infuser in boiling water for an adequate period (generally 2- 4 minutes), remove the tea bag or infuser. Or else, filter out the tea brew to another cup if you add loose tea directly. The infuser needs proper cleaning before brewing a different tea. 

Enjoy Your Tea

By now, you are ready with your tea, and now you know how to make tea. After the process, you can sit back, relax and enjoy your tea peacefully, sip by sip. You can improve the tea experience by pairing some pastries, cookies, desserts, or snacks. It would take you to a different imagination level.

Add Milk & Sugar

Tea is a beverage that you can drink as it is. However, to improve the experience, different additives can add to the teacup after making it. Adding milk, sugar, or both milk and sugar would create a lovely tea cup by giving a different attractive taste to it. However, milk and sugar are ideal for more robust teas like black tea (English Breakfast) rather than white and green tea.

Pour Over Ice

Though tea is a popular hot beverage, it can also be drunk as iced tea. There is no magic in making iced tea; you just need to keep the hot tea until it gets cold and pour it over ice. It is better to make a stronger tea brew when converting it to iced tea. 

How to drink tea? : Do's & Don'ts of Drinking Tea

When learning how to drink tea, it would be vital to know the incorrect and correct practices that people do. There are some do's and don'ts in drinking tea as well.

Do: Drink Tea Before a Meal

Scientists have found that tea can suppress the absorption of essential nutrients in your meals. Therefore, having tea before or after 20- 30 minutes of your meal is best. This principle applies to tea types made from leaves of the tea plant.

Do: Use an Air Proof Container for Tea Storage

During tea processing, tea producers reduce their moisture levels to around 2- 3% with the help of the drying step. The purpose of lowering moisture is to arrest fermentation and keep the fermented level without any change. So, if tea is exposed to moisture, the oxidation starts again, and other bacterial activities will begin within the tea particles. This over-oxidation will lead to an unpleasant taste. Therefore, you must always store tea in an airtight container to retain its best tea taste and flavor.

Do: Remember the Best Tea Pairing

Having tea is not just an individual's activity. It has become a culture, and drinking tea is one of the main connecting activities when you spend time with your friends and loved ones. So, in a gathering, you just can't serve tea and step aside. To make the tea time of the event more colorful, you can serve something that pairs well with tea. Tea pairs really well with pastries, cookies, desserts, sweets, and so on. (Read more on Tea Pairing)

Don't: Use Boiling Water for Green Tea

Adding overheated water to some teas might result in unexpected characters in your tea. When you add boiling water to green tea and steep it for a longer period, the green tea leaves burn and create a bitter and astringent taste. Therefore, adding water at correct temperature levels would result in a delicate cup of green tea.  

Don't: Over-steep Your Tea Leaves

The recommended steeping time of a tea is 2- 4 minutes. If you steep your tea for too long, that will create an unpleasant taste. Similarly, if you steep the tea for a shorter period than recommended, the characteristic flavors would not be visible. Therefore, carefully read the instructions given in the package and follow the steep time guidelines well.

Don't: Forget to Use a Special Tea Mug

It is a known fact that people feel better when they drink something from their favorite cup. If tea is drunk in the cup that you used to drink coffee, the flavors will mix, and the tea flavor will deteriorate. Therefore, always use your tea mug to enjoy your tea.

Don't: Rush to Drink It

Tea is a beverage that can relax you. So, take your time when you enjoy the perfectly made teacup. It is unlike the culture where coffee follows "grab and go." So, take a little time, breathe well, sit back, relax and enjoy your nicely made teacup over a moment of reflection and calm. You can feel it sip by sip.

Final Thoughts on How to drink tea?

Drinking tea has become a culture, and it has become a routine activity in our lives. It is a beverage consumed to relax your mind and body while absorbing its health benefits. It is a pleasant experience rather than a complex process. So, making tea perfectly and knowing how to drink tea would satisfy your overall tea experience. Several types of tea in the world give different characteristics and flavors. So, each type has a specific way of making it to deliver the best flavor and nutritional aspects. Therefore, knowing how to drink tea may make your life perfect and help you achieve serenity!

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