The art of steeping

The art of steeping

Here at Haziel's, we equate tea to art on a new level. The making of tea, from the growing, picking, shaping, and drying, all the way to the way you steep it in your pot, is art; however, like most things in the art world, there is a way to do things. You are, in art and tea alike, welcome to bend, push, and break these "rules" but they can serve as a very good starting point. 

When it comes to steeping your tea, each type demands a certain preparation in order to offer a smooth cup with little to no bitterness or bite while still boasting a well rounded flavor. Are you the type of person who thinks they don't like green tea, or worse yet, don't like tea at all?! It's very likely the tea that made you think this was brewed incorrectly. That bitter, tannic, face scrunching taste tea can have, is not how it is supposed to be. That tea, has been burnt, either by temperatures too high or by steeping for too long. Oh, you like stronger tea? Us too! Steeping it longer will still only make it more bitter. If you want it stronger, just increase the amount of tea leaves you use. 

Most tea that Americans drink is either Black tea or Herbal "tea" (you can learn more about the different types of tea and "tea" here.) Since both of these types are best steeped in boiling water (212º) it is relatively simple to achieve the correct temperature. When it comes to green, white, or oolong tea, however, the best steeping temperature is typically lower. Green teas tend to steep best in 175º water, white teas tend to like 165º water, and oolongs, depending on their oxidation level, can require anywhere from 175º to 212º water.

The good news in all of this complicated temperature business is that you can always use a thermometer, or, there is a pretty easy trick to follow if all you've got is a stovetop kettle. (personally we prefer a precise temperature electric kettle like this one, but we're definitely snobs) Water cools when exposed to air. So, you can cool your boiling water down by pouring it into a cup or pot and waiting. One minute should get you to green tea temperature, two minutes should get you to white tea temperature. Now obviously this is not going to be perfect every time, the temperature of the room you're in, the altitude where you are, and even the size and shape of the cup or pot you use will affect the final temperature of the water! 

Once you have your water temperature correct, timing is everything. Every tea that we sell has a steep time listed on the label. We personally think that this steep time is the best way to experience this particular tea. Of course, just like art, our teas are open to interpretation, so if you decide you like By and By to be just a bit more bite-y, to go with Taylor Meier's beautifully raspy voice, go ahead and steep it for three minutes, we won't be offended. We'll only be offended if you don't time your steep at all. Come on, you really say you love tea but you can't be bothered to tell Siri to set a timer? Ok, sorry for being sassy. Just time your steep. Please.

Of course, all of this is backed by science. That bitterness? Tannins. Tannins are water-soluble polyphenols that have many uses and benefits. They can color leather, they're antioxidants, they have potentially cancer preventing properties, and they fight inflammation! Unfortunately, along with all the cool stuff they can do, they also make your tea bitter if you steep it too long or too hot. 


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