I am one of the few people I know that doesn’t drink coffee.  I see everyone around me partaking in a ritual that I don’t understand.  I don’t like the smell and I can’t stand the taste.  I feel left out!  So, what about tea? Everything you read these days talks about how healthy tea is for all of us, but I don’t like the bitter taste.  When everyone around me is indulging in a cup of coffee, I would like to be able to indulge in a cup of tea. So began my search for the perfect tasting tea.

Did you know that White, Green, Oolong and Black tea all come from the leaves of one plant, Camellia Sinensis?   It is how the plant is processed that gives tea its own character.  Teas are mixed and/or flavored with oils, herbs and flowers to create different blends.  A “tea” that contains only herbs and/or flowers, is not a tea, instead an herbal infusion.

In choosing a good tasting tea many prefer loose-leaf over tea bags.  Loose-leaf teas use whole or broken leaves which produce a better flavor, opposed to tea bags that contain the dust or “fannings” which produce less flavor.  Loose-leaf is usually more expensive, but can be reused (steeped) three to six times, whereas a teabag is for a one-time use.

Tea is produced in certain regions such as Japan, China, Taiwan, India and Sri Lanka.  China and Japan produce some of the finest green tea, while Taiwan the best oolongs with India and Sri Lanka producing the best black tea.  Keep this in mind when choosing your teas for the best results.

Each time I brewed tea my results ended with a bitter taste.  I didn’t realize that how you steep your tea is important. I was steeping my tea much too long. Here is a helpful chart to follow:

White                   Temperature     140-150 degrees               Steeping Time   4-10 min.

Green                   Temperature     160-170 degrees               Steeping Time   1-2 min.

Oolong                  Temperature     200-210 degrees               Steeping Time   2-3 min.

Black                     Temperature     200-210 degrees               Steeping Time   3-5 min.

Herbal                   Temperature     200-210 degrees               Steeping Time   5-10 min.

The health benefits of drinking tea are numerous.  Tea contains phytochemicals which has been documented to help fight certain cancers, boost your immune system and maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels.  Tea is also rich in fluoride, similar to that of fluoridated water. The argument for drinking tea just keeps getting better!

So, after everything I have learned about tea, I purchased my first loose-leaf green tea infused with lavender and a beautiful red tea kettle.  Using the chart I steeped the tea for only 2 minutes and BINGO, no bitterness.  It is an acquired taste, but just as with coffee, you can enhance your teas by adding honey, milk, lemon or mint. Apparently, there are those that prefer a little nip of alcohol in their tea—I’m just saying!!  After trying them all, I much prefer the taste of lemon in my tea over sugar or honey.

I hope this information will aid you in finding that perfect tea.  Well, I’m off to enjoy a nice cup of tea with lemon using my new red tea kettle.