A Brief Guide to Loose Leaf Tea

It’s no secret that I am an avid tea drinker. There is something inherently good about sitting down to have a cup of hot tea, feeling the warm mug in your hands as the aroma of steeping leaves drifts into the open air. Sipping tea while reading a good book, working on a creative project or doing something you love really enlivens the soul, I think. With a few deep breaths and an atmosphere that comforts you, it can calm the nerves and bring you to a place that feels truly peaceful. And it certainly helps that drinking tea has quite a lot of health benefits.

A Brief Guide to Loose Leaf Tea

Steeping the Tea

If you want to make yourself a pot or a cup of loose leaf tea at home, you’ll need some sort of mesh tea infuser, either one that fits into your tea pot like a cup or a little ball that opens up for individual steeping. Different temperatures are preferred for different teas, but about 175° is optimal. You can find infusers really easily at places like World Market or Teavana. Black and oolong steep better at just slightly higher temperatures, around 195-200°. Heat up your water on the stove, pour it over the leaves into your cup or pot, wait about five minutes and take the tea leaves out. As a general rule of thumb, for every eight ounces of water, use one teaspoon for green, black and oolong tea and one and a half teaspoons for white.

Tea

Common Tea Types

Green

Green tea has a deep earthy flavor and is slightly bitter, but completely refreshing. Chalk full of antioxidants, it is also one of the healthiest, most beneficial teas out there. Add a teaspoon of honey to your drink if the taste of straight tea is too bitter for your liking, but you may grow to love the taste of tea alone (you totally will).

Oolong

Oolong has a smooth, soothing taste with only a mild bitterness. It’s like a huge breath of fresh air. Depending on the variety, oolong teas can have slightly fruity, flowery or earthy tastes and aromas. They mix well with almost any other flavor. Oolong is probably my favorite type of tea, with green tea in close second. It’s known for its benefits to skin, teeth and heart health.

White

Sweeter and more delicate in its flavor, white tea is a perfect match for fruity or flowery additions like peach, acaí berry or lavender. Also rich in antioxidants, white teas are known to help reduce fevers and help treat various skin ailments.

Black

This tea has a harsher, bitter flavor but is the perfect pick-me-up when in need of some energy, which is why many people drink black tea in the morning. The amount of caffeine in black tea is just enough to promote healthy blood flow to the brain without overexerting your heart.

If you’re looking for a tea variety without the caffeine, herbal tea can be a great way to go. The perfect drink to enjoy in the morning and at bed time, herbal tea has a more subtle quality to it and can really be made from basically any kind of herb or edible flower.

I am in love with mugs and have this odd attachment to the ones that I own, so I just have to add that teas (and coffees) taste so much better when they’re in big, cozy mugs. Being cozy is the best. Who doesn’t like that? Also, I will shamelessly promote enjoying your tea and buying it looseleaf from The Scented Leaf Tea House + Lounge if you happen to be in Tucson, Arizona. Happy sipping. 🍵

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