Tea: Digging Deep On How To Steep

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teaDesigned by Gabriela Alford.
Unless you belong to a tea-of-the-month club or went to finishing school, you're probably making tea wrong. Maybe, like us, you've been putting the kettle on, dropping a bag in a mug, and sipping away. This, of course, isn't cause enough for the tea police to come after you, but we can testify that there's a better way — involving fresh spices and flowers — that makes us feel worlds more Zen.

Teavana master teaologist Naoko Tsunoda (who recently advised Oprah on her chai blend for Starbucks) let us tap her for all of her flower wisdom. Turns out we've been scalding teas left and right and letting them steep far too long. Furthermore, while we love our Sleepytime Tea, it seems that loose leaf is the real way to go. Read on for Tsunoda's tips on how to brew the perfect cup for morning, noon, and night.

Choose The Steep Time Based On Blend
To get the perfect cup every time, it's key to steep each according to the type of tea. Green tea should steep for 45 seconds to one minute, black tea for two to three minutes, oolong for three, and white tea for four to five minutes. For all other times, check out Teavana's handy chart. Note: If you want a stronger flavor, you should add more tea — not steep for a longer period of time.

Watch The Temperature
For green and white teas, your water should be at 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Black teas should be served at 195 to 205. (For reference, water boils at 212 degrees.) Next on our wish list: a teapot with a temperature gauge.

Brew In A Teapot
While we always thought those stainless-steel tea balls were charming, Tsunoda says that constricting tea leaves like that is actually not recommended. "Brewing in a teapot and then straining the leaves is best for maximum flavor extraction."

Smell Before Sipping
Smelling your meal is important to fully tasting all the complex flavors, and the same is true with tea. "The olfactory bulb is what registers your smelling profiles like floral, spice, nut, chocolate, and more in the brain," Tsunoda says.