3 Ways to Become a Tea Snob

3 Ways to Become a Tea Snob
[Katy Horst]

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It all started when I was wandering aimlessly through a store that exclusively sold loose leaf tea. The sales lady could see that I was clearly out of my element and so I admittedly told her I had no idea what I was looking for (it’s always a bit humbling to be singled out as the confused one). I was on a quest for the perfect Christmas gift for one of my cousins and, knowing nothing about tea, I quickly absorbed everything the sales lady had to say about what would be a great gift for a tea lover.

As I was checking out with what I hoped to be pretty decent present, she told me that they had tea tastings at the store for insanely cheap. I’m all for anything that’s insanely cheap. AND: not only did participants get to try the tea and learn about it, they got a super fancy ceramic teapot to take home.

I went to this tasting with one of my best friends and the rest is history. I became a tea snob and I’ve never looked back. Want to come a tea snob, too, here are three things that you need to know:

One: Not all tea is created equal

There’s a huge difference between those cheap tea bags you pick up at the grocery store and the loose leaf stuff. For tea newbies, loose leaf tea is just the actual tea leaves that you can steep in warm-to-hot water. The taste (and health benefits) you get by using the real leaves are higher than the nasty, leaf dust used to stuff pre-made tea bags. When steeped right, you’ll never go back to (most) tea bag brands.

(Oh, and there are plenty of tools out there to help you steep loose leaf tea from empty tea bags to tea pots. I prefer the good old-fashioned tea pots or an ingenuiTEA, but you’ll have to see what works for you. You’ll probably have a good time trying them out. I mean, the end result is always tea.)

Two: Temperature matters

Have you ever ordered tea from a restaurant and the piping hot tea is bitter? It’s probably burned.

Different tea (i.e. green, black, white, oolong, etc.) are all meant to be steeped at different temperatures. For example, white tea has to be steeped at a considerably lower temperature than black tea. And while black tea is forgiving, if you plop white or green tea leaves into water that’s too hot, you’ll end up burning them. Burned tea means bitter tea, and bitter tea means nasty. Just nasty. Check the suggested temperature on the tea packaging for the perfect steep.

Three: Timing is (almost) everything

All too often I see people walking around with the string from the tea bag sticking out of their cup. And it stays there. Until they’re done drinking the contents. And, that’s gross. Each tea type requires a different amount of steep time. White tea can be steeped for as little as a minute, and black tea can take more than five!

Over-steeped tea may also mean that the leaves have sat in the hot water and gotten burned, kind of like if you leave a pizza in the oven too long. Again, gross. The packaging of your tea should also give your steeping time range.

And that’s just the beginning of it, people. The art of making the perfect cup of tea goes back generations and generations and crosses over many different cultures. Once you begin to delve into your favorite cup, you may become a tea snob, too. Join the club! We’re known for hosting great parties.

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