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The Biggest Mistake When Making Tea/How to Make a Perfect Cup of Tea

Hello hello!


In this week’s episode of creating better click-bait titles for SEO optimization, I’m going to talk about a topic that many tea professionals love to over-complicate. They make it seem like it’s some advanced level that you need to work hard to obtain, and if you don’t, then you’re now a blooming idiot who doesn’t drink advanced enough tea. Also, you’re somehow greeted with a huge 'burn in hell' for enjoying a bagged tea. 


So with this, I’ll go over the biggest mistake people make when brewing tea, how to fix this mistake (easily), and above all else — how to fix this mistake while enjoying whatever tea you like. I’ll also go over how to make the perfect cup of tea (it’s quite simple really, I promise). 



First, let’s get a stigma out of the way — there’s not one singular correct method for brewing tea. 

Many tea snobs would have you believe that there’s only one right way to make tea. 

Which, is incorrect. 


If you drink bagged tea, gong-fu tea, a mug with an infuser, cold-brewed overnight in the fridge, or a teapot with lose-leaf tea out in the open — then you’re just as valid for enjoying your tea the way you like. 


Second, I’ll advise you that many tea companies have instructions on how to brew their tea that are specific to their brand. For example, if you look at a box of green tea from the grocery store, it may tell you to brew your green tea with hot water at 170ºf for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, some veteran tea bloggers will tell you that you have to use boiling water for your tea and must brew it for 5+ minutes. 


So, who is right and who is wrong? 


Well, my professional answer is: They’re both correct. 

My petty answer is: The veteran bloggers are wrong because if your tea comes out bitter, they’ll tell you that the tea was produced wrong. This is a problem because many veteran tea bloggers somehow don’t know that you can singe an agricultural product with hot water and not everything was meant to be hard-boiled. 

If you follow Alice down the rabbit hole of a Google search on ‘how to make tea’, you’ll actually find that everyone has a different answer. Some places say you can hard-boil your white tea, and some places say you can’t. Some places say to use 180ºf for oolong, and some will say to use 200ºf. Some bagged teas will say to brew your tea bag for 2 minutes, and others will say to brew it for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, some keyboard warrior on the /r/tea subreddit will tell you that everything you’re doing is wrong and will downvote you regardless of how you make your tea.


So what is the biggest mistake people make when making tea?


The biggest mistake they make is stressing out over brewing instructions. 

It’s not their fault really, because the tea industry forgets to promote this one very important piece of advice that everyone should follow to enjoy their cup of tea: Experiment and have fun!


Yes! It’s really that simple. 


Tea is not singular. No two teas are 100% identical. To add, no two tea drinkers are the same. According to a study published to the US National Institute of Health, the way your body perceives taste varies based on your age, gender, and race/nationality. Scientifically, we all experience taste differently. With this, when one person says to make tea in a very specific way, it's because that is what’s right for them.


This begs the question: How do you make a perfect cup of tea? 


You don’t.


Well, not at first at least. 


When making a cup of tea, I always recommend to try the tea more than once. With each time, make it differently than the last. Brew one cup with boiling water, and another cup with cooler water. Brew it once for 2 minutes, and brew it again for 5 minutes. 

When it comes to seeking out the perfect cup of tea, you need to keep in mind the previous point mentioned above: What is perfect to me, may not be perfect to you. 


Does this have to be stressful? Not at all!

If you don’t like your cup of tea one way, then try it again. With this very act, you’re exploring you’re likes and dislikes, and you’re narrowing down your preferences. This exploration is not only fun, it’s constructive to figuring out your own personalized bliss-point.


But with this, is it sustainable to afford enough tea to figure this out? 


Well, yes. It can if you want it to be.

If you’re new to a specific type of tea, then buy an affordable version of that tea to experiment with. For myself, when I first got into Japanese Sencha, I bought the Costco-brand bagged sencha and brewed it multiple different ways until I figured out a method that worked best for me. 


With this, keep a few of these quick and helpful tips in mind when exploring your own flavor profile in tea...


  • This should be a fun and empowering process.


  • You can use pre-determined brewing instructions as a guideline, but if it doesn’t work for you, then branch out! But keep in mind, nobody is in the wrong.


  • Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re enjoying your cup of tea the wrong way. You’re making tea for your own enjoyment, and no one else’s. If you're brewing tea for other people, then still brew it for your enjoyment. Hell, you bougt the tea with your own money. Your tea, your dollar, your method.


  • Don’t read too heavily into snobby tea circles like the /r/tea subreddit. Reddit is a very negative website, to begin with. One incels truth does not have to be your truth.  


  • Boiled water can burn food products. Tea is an agricultural product. Burning things with water is singeing them. One of the ways tea releases flavors is through the release of an amino acid called L-theanin. Tea also releases tannins are broken down into two kinds: theaflavins and thearubigins. Tannins are extracted from the tea leaf based on the temperature of the water you use, because the hotter the water, the quicker it’ll draw the tannins out of the leaf quicker than the L-theanin and makes your cup of tea more acidic (which translates to bitter/astringent). Different tea types have different levels of tannins, because the more a tea is cooked and oxidized, the more it’ll lose its tannins. Green tea typically has a higher amount of tannins because it’s oxidized at a much lower level, and is typically steamed when cooked. Black tea has a lower amount of tannins because is it roasted and oxidized in a way that makes it lose them (well, in the very generalized sense — this rule doesn’t 100% always apply). So when you brew green tea, such as matcha for example, you don’t typically use boiling water to brew it because it’ll extract the tannins in a quicker and higher concentration before the L-theanin has a chance to be extracted from the leaf. This is why green tea is typically made with cooler water because it allows the L-theanin to become extracted before the tannins have a chance to become over-extracted and overpower the L-thenin. So when a .99¢ off-brand back-alley veteran tea blogger tells you that if a boiled green tea is bitter because the tea is produced incorrectly, then they are biologically incorrect for suggesting you can go against the laws of nature that are presented in basic food science, and are being a fucking stupid silicone dildo who needs to shut the hell up and be humbled out of their superiority complex. They're also racist because they're asserting that they know more than the tea farmer, whose culture is rooted in their own culture's heritage, by telling the tea farmer that they're wrong when they brew the farmer's tea incorrectly. Tell those stupid angelo-saxon colonizers to let people enjoy what they enjoy and stop blaiming tea farmers for their ignorance.


To conclude, go out into the world of tea and have fun exploring! I can't wait for you to explore you're new tea adventure by finding your perfect cup of tea, and can't wait to see how you end up finding it <3


With much love,


~Cody

aka The Oolong Drunk

"Blissfully Tea Drunk" 


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