Perfection in a tea cup

At Arte & Zayne, all our effort goes into pursuing perfection and delivering unique taste experiences through our carefully created loose leaf teas. So for us, making the perfect cup of tea is basically what we aim to achieve every single day, at home and in our very own blend store. But honestly, is there actually such a thing as the perfect cup of tea? After all, we have agreed that there is no accounting for taste. For tea, this is no different. So, while there are some fail-safe rules to be followed, at the end of the day, a cup of tea is just very personal.

How you experience your perfect cup of tea strongly depends on the kind of tea you use, your personal preferences, the moment of the day, what you are having on the side (see our other article on food pairing!) and what equipment and ingredients you set off with to start brewing.

The Bare Necessiteas

As a guide for you to prepare your own tea in a fashionable manner, we will break down the bare necessities you need for the process of brewing. At Arte & Zayne we are convinced that the best brews come from loose tea leaves rather than from finely crushed versions you often come across, so we’ll focus on brewing methods for the former one.

To brew a good cup of tea you will need at least:

loose leaf tea (and/or herbs)
tea bags (preferably biodegradable)
a porcelain tea mug or a fine glass (heatproof)
a thermometer
a timer (hourglass or electronic)

Start brewing

Once you’re all set, you can start brewing your tea. But before you give it hell, it is very important to have a closer look at what type of tea you’re about to work with. Every kind of tea has its heatproof method.

Mind your temperatures

When we weren’t yet the tea freaks we are now, we tended to pour boiling hot water over our green tea, give it a steep and a stir or squeeze, ditch the bag and go for it. The result? Bitter green tea.

So, we were convinced that green tea typically had a bitter taste. We were so wrong… You see, we made it bitter by literally burning the leaves, speeding up the process of oxidation and pretty much making it black tea by doing so. Squeezing the bag ultimately made for the perfect catastrophe. Once we learned that most green teas need water around 70°C and we put this to practice, we were treated to so much delicacy and diversity in taste and fragrance that we could hardly believe we were having the same tea as before.

So, mind your temperature. A thermometer will do that trick, stand-alone or integrated into your cooker. To make sure your water stays within the optimal temperature range during steeping you can use a tea cosy. Or a thermos, but we think that’s just a bit, uhm, uncosy.

Tip: Because tea needs oxygen, we recommend to not reboil water as this will take a lot of oxygen out, leaving your tea to taste a bit metallic. You don’t want that.

Fill your bags, mind your dosages

Once you’ve decided on which fine tea you wish to enjoy, you can start filling a teabag with it. The amount (gr/l) you use is very important so you will find instructions on all the labels of our signature blends. To make weighing and measuring not overly complicated, we recommend to brew any of our infusions by the liter. But feel free to unleash a good splash of mathematics on your alchemy there…

Timing for the perfect cup of tea

As for most things you prepare in the kitchen, timing is of the essence when it comes to brewing tea. Every tea or blend in our collection has its own desired steeping time to fully reveal all its flavour and fragrances. Take our Crazy Monkey white tea with bergamot, for instance. Usually, an earl grey flavour with bergamot comes from black tea versions that tend to have quite a bitter finish. When using our white tea and mind your temperature (70-80°C) and brewing time (2-3 minutes) you will notice a typical earl grey-ish sensation but with a surprisingly subtle, round finish. Wonderful!

Tip: Use an hourglass to time your steeping

Finally, toss don’t squeeze

Don’t leave your tea bag in the pot when you start pouring your brew and certainly don’t squeeze it before you dispose of it. This is very important because you will ruin the taste when you do and over-steep your carefully selected infusion, leaving it way too bitter due to the excess of tannins you’ll release into it. For the same reason, stirring your bag is unnecessary too.

So, examine the instructions on your high-quality teas first, then stick to them. It really helps you brew the perfect infusion and enjoy your tea in optima forma. In our blend store in Amsterdam we hold daily tea tastings and food pairings, to help get you an idea of the vast possibilities tea has to offer and how each kind of tea should be treated with. You are more than welcome!