Beginner’s Tea Guide

What is the best tasting tea for beginners? I am going to explore some of the most common teas that I think are the best tasting for non-tea drinkers.

Mostly, it seems to me the biggest complaint about tea taste is the bitterness.
I recommend starting with teas that are a little sweet. Honeybush teas are naturally sweet and easy to avoid oversteeping. The taste of honeybush tea is similar to that of rooibos, though slightly sweeter with a fuller body. It is caffeine free. Add a little honey to honeybush to bring out the natural sweetness. Tip: try sweet teas or dessert teas first before adding sweetener so you know how much you need to add.

Secondly, in my opinion, one of the best tasting tea flavors for beginners is fruit such as oranges, peaches, berries. The tart and citrus flavor balances out the tannins in tea and can create a nice balance. This is one of the reasons why Earl Grey (black tea with bergamot, a type of orange) is perhaps the most popular tea blend of all time. White teas are often paired naturally with fruit, however, be sure not to use boiling water to avoid bitterness. Herbal teas are sometimes paired with fruit for a blend of flavor.

Another great option is to try dessert teas that have a natural sweetness and playfulness. How about one of these decadent dessert flavors: almond sugar cookie, blueberry cheesecake, carrot cake cupcake, coconut crème pie, or red velvet cake. If you are a coffee drinker select a tea with hazelnut or chocolate flavors.
Lastly, spicy chai blends are very flavorful. The traditional ingredients of a spiced tea blend usually include black tea mixed with spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and black peppercorns. The spiced tea mixture is typically brewed strong with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey. Try several types to find the spice mixture that suits your taste.

Now, here are some tea brewing tips.

• To make a tea stronger, don’t steep it for longer. Unless it’s an herbal, steeping a tea for too long will make it bitter rather than strong. Instead, add more tea leaves or bags!

• As a general rule, use one level teaspoon for every 8-ounce cup you’re making. Teas with larger leaves could use an extra teaspoon.

• Tea bag teas are usually one per 8-ounce cup of tea, though you can always double-up when you want it stronger!

• If possible, use fresh cold water. Never use water from the hot water tap. Let the tap water run for a few seconds until it is quite cold; this ensures that the water is aerated with oxygen to release the full flavor of the tea leaves.

• Do not let the water reach a rolling boil, as that will release oxygen and result in a flat-tasting cup of tea.

• If brewing with loose leaf tea, there are several different types of infusers available; sometimes you’ll need to experiment a little until you find the perfect one for you.

• Loosely pack the infuser. You want the loose tea to have a lot of space to expand when it is inside the infuser. Otherwise, the water can’t do its job if the infuser is too full.

• Do not leave the tea in the infuser too long. In most cases, tea should only steep 3-5 minutes. Some herbal teas can steep longer without a problem, but don’t oversteep. Oversteeping equals bitter tea. This is particularly important for green teas and white teas, which are very sensitive.

• Many teas are good for a second (even third!) steeping. Multiple steepings can bring out more subtle flavors and notes. Give it a shot – you might end up liking the second infusion better than the first!

If a tea doesn’t taste quite right the first time around, experiment with changing the steeping time, water temperature, and tea amount until you find the flavor you enjoy. For those that have not yet embraced a tea-drinking habit, it is never too late to start brewing a batch! Explore the various types, flavors, and brands to find your tea-mate. Good luck in your tea tasting!


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