For all the tea lovers and drinkers all around the world, steeping it is one of the very important processes, and it is a lovely feeling to steep tea. The question arises, How to steep tea? There is no ‘right way’ to make tea. It all depends on your whims and fancies, what you love in your tea, it is all your opinion.
What kind of tea to use, what temperature is preferable, which vessel to use, and many such questions have no universal definitive answer – it depends on your preferences.
The Brits often argue over the fact whether to add mild to tea, or the other way round. Though it may seem trivial, several scientists have taken the time and study to answer the coveted British question.
What does Steep tea mean?
You may never have tasted Steep tea. What kind of tea is it? Of course, you’ve never probably heard of Steep tea. It is not a kind of tea. Rather, steeping is a process that we follow while brewing tea. Steeping refers to soaking a solid in a liquid to extract flavors or to soften it. In the process of tea brewing, steeping refers to soaking tea leaves in hot or warm water to produce the tea of your choice.
What does it mean to Steep tea?
As already stated, steeping is the magical process that turns some hot water and dry leaves into a steaming, delicious beverage. “What does it mean to steep tea?”….. Well, lies in the science that is involved in brewing and making a tasty and healthy beverage.
Steeping tea involves both the processes of diffusion and osmosis. Particles from the tea leaves diffuse into the water, or milk, whichever liquid you use.
Water has a high affinity for other molecules. Since there are more molecules of water than tea leaves, the tastiest and aromatic parts of tea will seep into the water, and create a love-filled cup of tea.
How to steep tea?
While having or stepping tea daily, you would never probably consider the scientific processes and steps that you follow or the chemical reactions that happen in your teacup. However, you must care about how you steep your tea, and how much tea leaves you are going to use.
When steeping loose tea, a tea infuser would be the best instrument to help you out. A tea infuser holds the tea leaves in contact with water but prevents the leaves from spilling into it. What type of infuser you choose for steeping depends entirely on the type of tea you are making, and the quantity of tea leaves you would be using.
For a bold and deep flavor of the tea leaves, they need to be in more contact with the water. If you put too many tea leaves in a small space infuser, they will not be able to expand freely, and a great portion of the flavor will be lost. Some special oolong tea leaves are very compact in their dried-up condition. When mixed in water, they require a lot more space than initially expected.
There are several varieties of infusers like the completely enclosed model, float in a cup, similar to a teabag, and tea-ball style. Some other popular models include the tea basket and tea nest. These models rest on the lid of your cup, while you pour water over it. This style gives the tea a lot more space to expand, and distribute its flavor to a greater extent.
How long to Steep tea?
Questions like ’ How long should a tea bag steep?’ ; ‘How long should black tea steep?’ and ‘How long to steep chai tea?’ have no definite answer, because steeping entirely depends on your likes and preferences. Tea steeping has no definite time. It depends on how deep or light you want the taste of your tea to be. Different tea types require different steeping times to produce the best results.
A study by scientists published in the Journal of Food Sciences showed that the antioxidant content of the brewed tea is determined by the steeping time and the temperature of the water. The study showed the effect of steeping in white, black, and green tea.
In their tests, scientists steeped the individual types of tea for 5 minutes and 2 hours, each in hot and cold water. It was found that the long white tea was left to steep, the higher the antioxidant content turned out to be. The best result for black tea was steeping in hot water for five minutes. The antioxidant content in black tea decreased with time.
Green tea had the best antioxidant content after being left for two hours in cold water. Black tea has lower antioxidant levels than White and Green tea in general.
Health effects of Steeping tea
One of the primary reasons people love drinking tea is because of the variety of health benefits it comes packed with. Most of the benefits are there because of the antioxidants present in tea. And the only way to bring out the antioxidant from the leaves is by steeping it before you drink. Most teas contain caffeine, catechins, and L-theanine, which have different effects on the human body.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant and boosts our brain activity. It makes us feel less tired, and more alert. This element is often associated with improved functioning of the brain, mood, and memory, Catechin prevents the creation of free radicals and reduces cell damage, aging, and more. L-theanine reduces anxiety and stress and has often been linked to improved brain functioning.
Affects of steeping on the flavour of the tea
Steeping affects the tea flavor like no other process. If you steep the tea for too long, it might turn bitter, and you might not be able to enjoy a nice and lovable cup of tea. While steeping, the first things to be released from the leaves are the flavor and the taste. So, steeping for about 2-3 minutes in warm water would be adequate, while for cold water, it can be a bit longer.
A question often asked is whether milk can be used for steeping. Milk can affect the tea taste and can alter the steeping process. Since steeping is heavily dependent on the temperature, cold milk is not usually preferred. It would be better to heat the milk for a brief period of time before you proceed with steeping.
Steeping is a very important process. The tea you love so much because of its smell and flavor may be spoilt if you do not steep it properly. It is best to understand the steeping process before you proceed to try it with your tea.