The Perfect Cup (of Tea)

Nov 13th, 2016 | By | Category: show tips, the show
Brewing a cup of tea at Zhi Tea in Austin, Texas

Brewing a cup of tea at Zhi Tea in Austin, Texas

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up hot tea meant a tea bag steeped in a cup of boiling water and cold tea involved a teaspoon or two of instant tea granules stirred into a glass of cold water followed by saccharin tablets and ice (and possibly a squirt of lemon juice from concentrate).

My family wasn’t alone. That’s how many “mid-century modern” folks enjoyed this exotic beverage.

Most of us casual tea drinkers weren’t overly concerned about how we stored our tea bags. At my house (where coffee was king) they stayed in the box they came in, and lived in a  kitchen cabinet in close proximity to the calcium crusted tea kettle that never left the stove top.  The jar of instant tea by its side.

We didn’t know how good tea was supposed to look or taste. Our options–at least in suburbia–were limited.

As long as it was hot or cold or comforting or refreshing at the appropriate times, we were satisfied.  We  never questioned it. After all, it was “only” tea.

Today we know more, and we have more choices. Tea still comes in bags, but it also comes as whole loose leaves, or as herbal concoctions with spices and citrus and flower petals. Tea is white or green or black or red.

It’s amazing.

Now we take more care when selecting, storing and brewing tea, because we know more and care more.

Selecting Tea:

  • When selecting tea, know what you want from it. Do you want something full bodied? Light? With a kick of caffeine? Decaffeinated? Are you seeking tea for health benefits? Relaxation?
  • For low to no caffeine, select white and herbal teas. For something to get you going in the morning, or give you a lift in the afternoon or evening, try black tea.
  • Black teas are also full-bodied, whereas white, green, and herbal teas are much lighter.
  • If you’re in the mood for a tasty tea that’s neither light nor bold, then oolong may be for you.
  • Tea can rehydrate the body; green tea, in particular, is said to offer health benefits.

Jeffrey Lorien of Zhi Tea offers the following tea suggestions:

  • Office workers: Green tea
  • Sports lovers: Oolong tea and black tea
  • Those averse to sports: Green tea and white teas
  • Those exposed to heavy air pollution: Green tea
  • Smokers and drinkers: Green tea
  • Meat lovers: Oolong tea & Pu-Erh
  • Those suffering constipation: Honey in your tea
  • Those wanting to lose fat: Oolong tea, Pu’er tea and green tea
  • Those with a weak spleen and stomach: Oolong tea and flower teas
  • Those hoping for longevity: Oolong tea and black tea

Storing Tea

  • Store all tea in airtight containers and away from light, heat and moisture.
  • Black teas are hardy and can remain as flavorful as the day you bought it for two years or more when stored properly.
  • White, green and herbal teas, because they tend to be delicate, are best consumed within six months of purchase.

Brewing Tea

Jeffrey Lorien (aka Dr. Oolong) is foudner and CEO of Zhi Tea in Austin, Texas and has spent a great deal of time learning how to brew the perfect cup of tea. See how he does it in Episode One of his series Oolong Time:

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