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Black tea, like oolong, green, and white tea, comes from the leaves of an evergreen shrub known as “tea shrub” or “tea tree”, or Camellia sinensis. The levels of oxidation are what produce the different teas. Of the four types of teas mentioned, black tea is the most oxidized and has the strongest flavor.
The tea is called “black” because of the color of its oxidized leaves, and not because of the tea itself. The leaves produce a rusty, reddish liquid when steeped, and is known as red tea in various Asian country. Black or red, this tea gained popularity because it can be stored for a long time—up to several years—without it losing its flavor.
Making Your Tea
There’s general set of guidelines on how to properly brew your tea. Keep in mind, though, that these guidelines aren’t etched in stone and you absolutely can make tweaks here and there to accommodate your tastes and the kind of black tea you have. These guidelines are more concerned with helping you make the best of your tea by brewing it as well as possible. They are also meant to help you bring out and appreciate the best aspects of the tea in terms of taste and body.
How much Tea and Water you should use
There’s a prevalent rule of thumb when it comes to the recommended tea-to-water ratio. Generally, people use about three to five grams of tea leaves for every six ounces of water. It’s recommended that you measure by weight, since tea leaves differ in size. However, it’s also possible to measure by volume. If you’re using smaller tea leaves, scoop out a rounded teaspoon of tea leaves per six ounces of water. If you’re using larger tea leaves, you’ll want to use one or two rounded tablespoons instead.
These measurements are kind of flexible, though. It depends upon how strong you want you tea to be. Just make sure that you don’t do overboard, though. It’s best to add or subtract a gram from the suggested weight or about a quarter of a teaspoon/tablespoon from the suggested volume.
You may think that boiling water might be the simplest aspect to making tea, but as it turns out, there are also certain things you can do to make sure that the water you use will bring out and complement the flavor of the tea. You can use just about any kind of clean and drinkable water there is, but it’s best to avoid distilled water. Distilled water tends to taste flat, which can negatively affect the flavor of the tea.
One thing you must remember is that it’s best to use cold water that has not already been boiled before. Bring the water to a rolling boil, or until the temperature hits between 190 degrees to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Water boiled to these temperatures can draw out all the flavors of the tea. Make sure not to exceed these temperatures, though, as doing so can make your tea taste bitter. To make sure you keep these preferred temperatures, you can buy a tea kettle with a built-in thermometer.
Once the water has boiled at your preferred temperature, pour it into your cup or pot directly over the tea leaves.
How long you should steep your Tea
People generally steep their tea from three to five minutes. Steeping the tea leaves for a shorter period of time than that may result in weaker tea, while steeping for too long may be too overwhelming to the taste. The length of time you steep your tea depends on how strong you would like it to be. One tip is to take a small sip of your tea once the leaves have been steeped for three minutes, then sip it again at thirty-second intervals. Once you start liking the taste, then you’ve figured out how long you yourself would like to steep your tea.
Tea leaves versus Tea bags
Whether you’re using loose tea leaves or a tea bag, the process is generally the same. The difference lies in the flavor and aroma you’ll get. Tea leaves need to expand in the water in order to release their full flavor. Tea bags are too constricting in this respect. Loose and whole tea leaves are also better in terms of flavor and aroma than tea bags. The leaves found in tea bags are basically the leavings of broken tea leaves, which have already lost much of their flavor and aroma.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you should turn up your nose on tea bags. Most people don’t have access to fresh tea leaves every day, which makes tea bags beneficial and essential. However, if you’ll be using tea bags, try to get the ones that are shaped like pyramids and have larger tea leaves.
Benefits and Risks
There are a lot of great benefits to drinking black tea. There’s still a lot more research to be done, but there’s evidence to suggest that this tea can help lower the risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, heart attack, osteoporosis, lung cancer, and other conditions. It has also been found to improve oral health, and it also provides a lot of antioxidants.
Of course, drinking this tea does have some drawbacks. Experts have noted that drinking this tea can slightly raise blood pressure, but this effect does not last for too long. However, drinking it might cause anxiety, nausea, tremors, an irregular heartbeat, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping, among others.
If you’re trying to avoid these effects, this tea may not be a great choice for you. However, it still has a lot of long-term benefits, and anyway, the risks mentioned above won’t always manifest in every cup you drink. Drinking black tea is still a great and healthy way to stay alert and active throughout your day.