In an era of instant, on demand everything, some tea drinkers have become accustomed to rushing their approach to brewing tea.
This may be based on habits they have developed over time - perhaps from using a tea bag and the perceived sense of efficency they get by enthusiastically jiggling a tea bag in a cup. The reward is instant colour but a resuting brewed liquor that might have limited flavour and lacking a sense of depth or personality - no time wasted there though!
Brewing loose leaf tea and steeping the leaves longer will result in a more full flavoured and satisfying cup.
The reason for a recommened minimum steep time is because when you brew a pot of tea and expose the dried leaf to heat and water a liquor is created that is rich in polyphenols (tannins), alkaloids (principally caffeine) , amino acids (principally theanine), glucides, mineral salts and vitamins.
These different constituents dissolve in water at varying rates so there are minimum times that you want your liquor to steep to achieve a balance between these elements. It has been suggested that around 80% of the caffeine is released in the first minute of infusion, while tannins take longer to release (reference 1).
On the front of each of our tea packets we offer suggested steep times e.g for black tea we indicate a range between 3 – 5 minutes (suited to your personal preference). These guidelines have been developed and passed down by generations of passionate tea drinkers however ultimately as the tea drinker you should brew suited to your personal taste.
We suggest if you want your brewed tea to be stronger then try increasing the measure of tea used rather than extending the time beyond the maximum suggested.
(Reference 1: The Tea Drinkers Handbook by Francois-Xavier Delmas, Mathias Minet, Christine Barbaste)
Posted: Friday 31 March 2023