You’re a lover of black tea, and you may be one of those people who are picky about how it turns out. Too light, too bitter, or not enough depth, these things might turn you off from your tea altogether.
There are a wide variety of black teas, and every one of them is a master of their own taste. Some black teas are meant to be light, and having it any other way might alter the unique characteristics that make them delicious as a light tea. The good news is most black teas are pretty flexible when it comes to personalizing them and making them suit your liking. Here are a few tips on how to make your black tea the best that it can be.
Choosing Your Tea: Light vs. Strong
When you’re looking for a type of strength in a black tea, but you don’t know which tea is light, or which one is strong, it can be a little frustrating. Of course if you steep a light tea for a minute or two longer, it will turn out slightly bolder, and perhaps with a slight bitterness. Ultimately there’s no harm in tweaking your steeping time a little bit to make it suit your taste. We’ve come up with a helpful list of light and strong black teas to simplify your tea shopping experience.
Here are a few examples of lights teas:
- Certain origins of Ceylon
- All black teas that are labeled “first flush”
Some examples of strong teas:
- Some origins of Ceylon
- All black teas labeled “second flush” or “third flush”
Use Freshly-Drawn Cold Water
Teas love oxygen as it helps the flavours develop as it should, producing a smooth cup. Many of us are guilty of settling for the old, used water that’s already in the kettle from the morning. When you keep re-boiling the same water, it begins to lose all of its oxygen and that will affect your tea experience. We suggest you try your best to use fresh water each time you make tea, so you don’t end up with a miserable and flat cup of tea.
The temperature of the water used for steeping is somewhat important if you want to make the best tasting black tea. We recommend using water at boiling point, that is 212°F. Black teas have certain chemicals compounds and flavonoids that green and white teas don’t have, and these compounds are not released unless the water temperature is near boiling. Not to mention, your tea just won’t taste right.
Steeping (Or Oversteeping)
The number one rule people talk about when it comes to preparing black tea is “do not over-steep”. The recommended length of time that you should steep black tea is typically between 2-5 minutes (depending on the particular tea). Any more than that and your tea might turn out too bitter. Our general rule is that if you want a darker or stronger brew, don’t steep for longer, but simply use more of the tea. There is an exception to this, we find, and that is if you plan to add milk or cream to your brew, that is perfect as the dairy product will mute out the bitter tones and instead you will have a nice strong brew that is also rich and creamy without the unpleasant taste!
Milk, Sugar, and Lemon What add-ons are suitable for your tea type? It’s all about what the tea can handle. A bold, strong cup of black tea can stand up to all the above (milk, sugar and lemon), while a lighter, milder black tea may not be well suited for milk products, but sugar, honey or lemon may be just fine. This is a basic guideline only. Our true advice: go with your instinct!