Tea (part 1/∞)

I’m not super feeling cooking today – it’s 2pm and so far I’ve had toast with nutella, and lunch/dinner/snacks will probably be leftovers, fast food, or something T makes (let’s be real, here, though: there’s only like a 1% chance T will ever cook anything) – so let’s talk tea.

There’s lots of it! So many different kinds, good hot or cold, winter or summer. My stepmom swears they all taste like weasel piss, but I’m firmly of the opinion that there is a tea for everyone.

First, basic principles:

Steeping time

Black, white, and green tea all contain tannins, which are an antioxidant and also what makes tea slightly astringent. If you steep tea too long, it gets more astringent, and then bitter. It’s kinda gross! So for black tea, steep for three to five minutes. I generally just steep for three, because I like a sweeter cup. Green tea should steep for 2 to 3, because it’s a little more delicate. White tea you generally steep 4 to 5 minutes. Other teas – puer, herbal, mate, rooibos and honeybush – are generally more forgiving, and you can aim for approximately five minutes but not bother setting a timer.

Temperature

Not all teas need to be steeped in boiling water! Herbal, black, puer, rooibos and honeybush can all be steeped in boiling (212°F) water, but green tea wants to be about 180°F, white tea is better at 170°F, and mate is better at 160°F. Green tea and white tea both have their leaves scalded at boiling, and you can taste it. It’s pretty gross.

Quantity

So a lot of the time it seems to make sense to use one teabag per mug of tea. Straightforward, right? Except teabags are generally designed for an 8-ounce cup, and some of us have 16 ounce travel mugs. To get tea that doesn’t taste like water, the thing isn’t to steep it longer – you just get bitterness. Just add more tea. Like, if you’re not making tea in a quantity divisible by 8 ounces, loose-leaf is better, but sometimes one doesn’t have time or space or tools for that. I say always err on the side of more tea. Because tea.

Earl Grey Is Not A Good Life Choice

Okay, so most of us already know that Anastasia Steele makes terrible life choices and feel bad for her signing up for a relationship with an abuser. But she also likes hilariously weak Earl Grey tea (yes, I have read all 50 Shades books. Yes, this is very far down the list of things wrong with them. Still.). Dunking a teabag briefly and then taking it out is . . . why would you do that? No. Don’t do that. Let your tea steep – covered if you can so that it doesn’t cool too much.

But she also goes for Earl Grey. Which is actually kind of divisive, since it contains bergamot. Bergamot is an orange oil that some people say adds flavor and others (me) say tastes like earwax and sadness. Apparently some people like it enough that double bergamot Earl Grey is a thing that exists, but wow, really, don’t feel obligated to like it.

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