Sip To Health: A Guide To Tea Brewing & Pairing

There’s nothing quite like a warming cup of tea. Whether you favor a classic English Breakfast with a dash of milk, a relaxing mug of chamomile or an aromatic Chai with honey, there’s the perfect tea out there for everybody. Tea is a simple pleasure, but it takes some know-how to get the right brew, taste and pairing.

The Perfect Cup Of Tea: Some General Brewing Tips

  • Use fresh boiled water; don’t recycle the leftovers from the last time you used the kettle. The water should be freshly oxygenated for the best cup.
  • If you are using loose leaf tea – especially herbal leaves like peppermint – fresh, whole leaves are preferable to broken or stale ones.
  • Store your tea, whether it’s in loose leaf or bag form, in a dry, dark place.
  • If you prefer a stronger cup, the key is volume rather than duration. Don’t leave your tea to steep for longer; use more leaves or an extra bag from the beginning.
tea

Photo courtesy of Maglara via Shutterstock.

Black Teas

The Benefits

The health benefits of black teas are manifold: they provide a caffeine boost for those who find the kick of coffee too strong, have antioxidant properties and can even work as appetite suppressants.

Preparation Tips

Steep your tea for at least two minutes before drinking.

Pungent black teas like Chai or Russian Caravan, which bridge the gap between black and herbal, are generally best without milk and sugar, so you can savor the spices.

I am a terrible English descendant and put my milk in first (the tea stirs the milk in- no need for a spoon! It seems logical) but my English friends swear by adding the milk last. I believe this is an etiquette quirk and doesn’t change the quality or taste of the tea, though I certainly invite those who feel passionately about this serious issue to contribute their thoughts!

Pair It With

A good cup of English or Irish Breakfast tea goes perfectly with cakes, biscuits and, of course, breakfast. Darjeeling is good with cheese. Earl Grey complements citrus. It’s also not called morning tea, high tea and afternoon tea for nothing.

tea

Photo courtesy of Vaclav Mach via Shutterstock.

Herbal Teas

The Benefits

Anything and everything. Peppermint can assist with anxiety, lemongrass, ginger, rosehip and rooibos with the immune system, cinnamon with metabolism, hibiscus with blood pressure, chamomile with insomnia. The list goes on.

Preparation Tips

Keep it simple. Fresh, boiling water and the largest mug you can get your hands on.

Pair It With

Herbal teas are perfect by themselves just before bed, to help you slip into a lazy, sleepy state. But I’m partial to an antioxidant-rich dessert of dark chocolate and peppermint tea.

Green Tea

The Benefits

Green tea boasts myriad health benefits, including boosting your immune system, digestion and metabolism.

Preparation Tips

Strong green tea can be an acquired taste, but many adore it. As with other teas, brew with piping hot, fresh water. The best green tea doesn’t have any additives; just those pungent leaves and water.

Pair It With

Green tea – or jasmine – is the perfect bookend to a Japanese or Chinese meal. But I also like to reach for green tea instead of snacks when I’m bored-hungry. Feel free to adopt that little trick yourself.

Are you an avid tea lover? What are your ultimate tips and pairings?

By Gemma King

Also Check Out:

Matcha, Bento And An 11th-Century Temple: A Cultural Walk In Uji, Japan

Discover Chinese Culture In A Minneapolis’ Tea Shop (Antioxidant Cocktails Included)

Green Tea, Shabushabu And Kushiage: Epicure’s Guide To Japan’s Kansai Region

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Gemma King

Coffee Connoisseur Columnist
Gemma King is an Australian francophile living between Paris, Melbourne and Richmond Virginia. A PhD student in French cinema at Melbourne Uni and the Sorbonne, she's also an eternal nomad, a film buff, a French lecturer, a coffee reviewer, an English teacher and a travel writer. As la muséophile, she spends her Sundays exploring and reviewing the lesser-known museums of Paris at www.lesmuseesdeparis.com.

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