These are the basic steps on how to brew a cup of tea:
- Start buy boiling a pot of water to the correct temperature for the type of tea you will be steeping.
- Add your tea to a pot.
- Pour the boiling water over the tea and close the lid to let the tea steep for the appropriate brew time.
- Pour the finished brew tea into cups or a serving pot to stop steeping. If you use a tea infuser, you can lift the infuser out to stop the steeping process.
- Enjoy your cup of tea!
Refer to the chart below for boiling water temperatures and brew times for different teas.
Try these following tips to brew a perfect, delicious cup of tea.
The Tea or Herbal Tea
- Loose leaf teas are the fresh ground coffee of teas—more flavorful and better overall quality. Teabags commonly use tea dust—like crumbs at the bottom of a bag—as well as other undesirables.
- In general start with 2 grams of tea/herbal tea for every cup (8 oz) of water.
- To strengthen a cup's flavor, add more tea/herbal tea instead of steeping for longer. This will strengthen the taste without changing the flavor.
- Most teas are good to brew 3 or more times. With each brew deeper subtle flavors are drawn out, and so the tea's flavor changes. You may find that your favorite is the 3rd brew of a certain tea.
Tea is mostly water, so getting this major part right makes a big difference to the flavor.
- Filtered and spring water are pure of additives found in tap water, and so yield a cleaner tasting cup of tea.
- Start with cold water for boiling. Cold water will be better aerated which will help extract the full flavors of the tea.
- Try not to let the water get to a rolling boil; that is just the oxygen escaping the water.
- Freshly boiled water will have better oxygen levels than reboiled water.
- Make sure you get the water temperature correct for the tea you are brewing. Too cold, the tea's flavor will not fully be extracted. Too hot, the tea may get a burnt taste. Delicate teas such as white and green require a lower temperature while harder teas like black and tisanes need a higher temperature.
The Brewing Vessel
- Glass and porcelain vessels are great due to their non-porous nature. These will not change or take on tea flavors over time.
- Cast iron vessels can keep the tea too hot. The metal will also absorb the tea flavors into its material over time and effect the flavor of the brewed tea.
- Clay pots create the most authentic flavor. Some clay can help balance the flavor of the teas brewed in them. These pots will also absorb tea flavor over time, so it is best to exclusively brew a single type of tea in each pot.
- Pre-heat all of the brewing and serving vessels with some excess boiled water so the tea isn't shocked by a cold cup.
Try different teas and different brews first on their own. You may find a combination that you really enjoy. But if you'd like to add a little bit of spice, creaminess, or sweetness to your cup, try these traditional added ingredients.
- Milk + Sugar
- Rock Sugar
- Goji Berries
The only teas that can be truely called "tea" are those made from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Tea flavor differences are attributed to where they are grown and how the tea leaves are processed.
Green tea is made of freshly picked tea leaves. The leaves are heated or steamed to stop the oxidation process. This preserves the tea's fresh, light, natural flavors.
Matcha is a green tea that has been ground into a powder. So when you drink matcha, it is not only the brewed tea but also the green tea leaf powder that you're consuming.
White tea is made from the young leaves and new buds of the tea plant. Just like green tea, white tea leaves are heated or steamed to stop oxidation. These tender leaves have the most light, delicate flavor.
Black tea differs from green teas in that the tea leaves are crushed and left to oxidize. Oxidation strengthens and darkens the tea's flavor.
Oolong tea is considered a semi-oxidized tea. This means the whole tea leaves collected are left to oxidize for different amounts of time. The longer the tea is left out, the darker and stronger the flavor becomes. Oolong teas don't have a specific length of time for oxidation, so they can range from light to dark flavored based on production.
Pu-erh is often the most expensive true tea because it is a fermented tea. The harvested tea leaves are hand tossed in woks to stop oxidation. The leaves are then left out on mats in a humid environment to age. The fermentation develops the tea's dark, rich flavor and is less astringent than other teas. Pu-erh flavor depends on how long it has been aged. Young raw pu-erhs are aged for less than two or three year and has a similar fresh quality as green tea. Aged raw pu-erh becomes darker with an earthy, woody flavor. Ripe pu-erh uses a sped up fermentation process that just takes several months which creates a creamy, earthy flavor. You can easily spot a pu-erh because this tea is commonly pressed into "cakes" or "bricks" for selling.
Tisane / Herbal Tea
Other brewed beverages that are not made from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, are called tisanes or herbal teas. Here are some common things herbal teas are made from.
Popular floral tea favorites are jasmine, rose, chamomile, hibiscus, and chrysanthemum. Flowers have a wide variety of flavors and their colorful blooms always create a delightful show in your tea cups/pots.
Tip—choose young buds that are still tightly closed so they have not lost their flavorful pollen. As these buds steep, they will bloom and release their flavors.
Dig below ground and there's plenty to make tea from too. Ginger, burdock, and dandelion roots are all commonly used to create teas.
There are many other plant leaves that can be brewed for tea other than the ones from the tea plant. This includes the mint plant (mint tea) and the fermented leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub (rooibos or red tea).
Both fresh and dried fruits can be steeped for a light fruit flavored drink. Lemon, strawberry, orange, peach, raspberry, and mango are some common fruits used in herbal teas.
Those herbs on your spice shelf—lemongrass, cinnamon, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, and even parsley—can all be brewed into teas.
Pressed from the fruit of the olive tree, olive oil is used in candles, soaps, skin care, medicine, and, most well known, in food. Mediterranean food evolved around this ingredient since before the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Now famous and wide spread Italian, Greek, and Moroccan cuisines celebrate the spender of this special Mediterranean basin specialty.
Of the more than 3 million tonnes of olive oil that's produced a year, this product is carefully graded and ranked on their quality. You may know the phrase "extra virgin olive oil", but what does that "extra virgin" mean?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
The highest grade, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is the first oil cold pressed out of the olive fruit. Olives are picked, washed, ground, and spun to extract the oil within 24 hours. The initial collected liquid is the highest-quality oil produced. Producers then make sure the product has a low acidity (very little oleic acid) and impurities level. The high quality and minimal processing leaves the EVOO with a high level of natural antioxidants, vitamin E, and phytosterols from the olive fruit.
Virgin Olive Oil (VOO)
Virgin Olive Oil is produced in the same process as EVOO. However, the quality of VOO is lower in that the acidity level and the amount of impurities are slightly higher.
Refined Olive Oil
Processed olive oils, that have been altered by steps like deodorization, are called refined olive oils. These oils are more mild and have a lighter taste. However, in turn, the processing strips the olive oil of its natural antioxidant and other nutritional properties.
Olive Oil (Pure Olive Oil)
Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil is a blend of Refined and Virgin or Extra Virgin olive oils. A common ratio of the blend is 85% refined and 15% EVOO or VOO. The ratio can range widely, which in turn swings the prices of the Pure Olive Oil products. This grade is a combination of the qualities of Refined and Virgin oils.
After the olives are ground and squeezed for the initial virgin oils, the left over pulp is called pomace. Producers can add solvents to this pomace and re-extract to squeeze out the remaining oils. This product grade is referred to as Olive-Pomace Oils, the lowest level of quality. This grade is also available in unaltered and refined forms; the same as regular olive oil.
A $4 bottle of Balsamic Vinegar vs. a nearly $200 bottle of Acetaia Leonardi Balsamic Vinegar. Is the luxury bottle worth it? We say YES!
Balsamic vinegar of Modena, Italy is produced using traditional technique refined over centuries. The production of Balsamic vinegar in Modena started during the Renaissance. Families passed down their formula for creating this liquid black gold from generation to generation. Acetaia Leonardi balsamic vinegar farm has been in business since 1871. Their product is so well regarded that it was even served at the royals Kate and William's wedding.
Acetaia Leonardi is a closed cycle producer, meaning they do everything from grape production, fermentation, aging, bottling, and selling. This allows them to have a hand in every step of their product to ensure the strictest of quality standards.
The Acetaia Leonardi farm grows two grapes, Trebbiano and Lambrusco. These grapes are harvested at the perfect time and pressed. The pressed mixture is then cooked in copper cauldrons for 36 to 48 hours to remove unwanted bacteria and concentrate the liquid. The end product is a thick grape juice called must. Acetic acid bacteria is then added in to kick off the fermentation.
The fermenting must is stored in wood barrels. These barrels made of different woods help infuse the vinegar with special flavor notes. Acetaia Leonardi uses multiple barrels of different types of wood, further adding to the vinegar's complexity.
Acetaia Leonardi starts with an oak barrel that adds a vanilla aroma to their vinegar. Here the must ages for 14 months becoming vinegar and concentrating its sugars. After this the vinegar is transferred to a battery, a series of 9 small barrels made of different woods. As the vinegar ages, the liquid is transferred from barrel to barrel down the series until it is ready to be bottled. Acetaia Leonardi's battery series includes barrels of cherry wood, for fruitiness, and juniper, for spiciness, as well as chestnut, ash, and mulberry.
It takes a minimum of 3 to 5 years for one of Acetaia Leonardi's balsamic vinegar to mature. But as with other foods, balsamic vinegar just get better with age. Acetaia Leonardi also produced 10, 12, 25, 30, 100, and even 150 year old balsamic. A young balsamic vinegar will be sour and bitter. The older the vinegar, the thicker and sweeter it will be.
This meticulous process ensures a balsamic vinegar that is a balance of sour, sweet, and thickness. Commercial balsamic vinegar just can't get close to the real thing.
The starting ingredients may be the same, but the big producers speed up the process of fermentation by pumping air in through the mixture. The added oxygen forces the vinegar to ferment in as little as one day. This results in a sharp, unbalanced vinegar that has lost much of its signature wine flavor. These producers sometimes even use coloring and other additives to replicate high end balsamic characteristics. So even though these products are called balsamic vinegar, they do not compare to the real deal.
So if you want to experience the true rich flavor of balsamic vinegar, choose a bottle of real Modena, Italy vinegar.
You can find Modena balsamic vinegar including the famous Acetaia Leonardi balsamic vinegar in the 5280 Market.
The cheese board at any occasion is both a visual and taste journey. A beautifully curated and arranged board can wow you guests. So how do you create the perfect cheese board?
The cheese board is the canvas to your arrangement. Wood and stone boards are popular choices as they give a nice polished background which the colorful cheeses, meats, and fruits can visually pop on.
The board should also be large enough to hold all of the food. A platter too small or too large can look too crowded or sparse.
You'll also want to provide a knife for each cheese on the board. Cheese markers is also a nice touch so guests can know what each option is.
There are thousands and thousands of cheese. For a well rounded cheese board, you will want to pick a variety of textures and flavors from soft to hard and mild to sharp. You can also mix up the type of milk by including some goat or sheep cheese. Read our blog Know Your Cheeses to learn more about the different types of cheese.
Having a wide variety on the board allows one to explore cheese pairings. And in case someone doesn't like one flavor, there are others to try.
The cheeses should be served at room temperature, so let them sit out for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Accompany your cheese selection with an equally varying array of extras. Add in bread, sweet, and savory foods of different colors and textures to add even more depth for the senses to enjoy.
- Breads - toasted baguette, crusty sourdough bread, etc.
- Bread Sticks
- Dried Fruits - cranberries, cherries, figs, apricots, strawberries, mangoes, etc.
- Fresh Fruits - grapes, berries, cherries, melons, etc.
- Fruit Preserves
- Cured Meats - prosciutto, salami, chorizo, jerky, etc.
- Marinated Olives
The arrangement of your cheeses should be a guide. It should tell someone in what order things should be tried and how to try them.
Place the cheeses down in a clockwise arrangement from softest to hardest in texture. But if you have included a blue cheese, place it at the very end. This will show that the order in which the cheese should be tasted, from the mildest to the most intense flavor.
Next, display the cheese in the way they should be eaten. Cut a small wedge out of a mini wheel. Slice up some of the semi-firm cheese wedge into triangle slices. Chunk some cheese off the tip of a firm cheese. This will show how each cheese should be cut. Then leave knives off to the side so guests can cut more cheese as the blocks are consumed.
Space the cheeses out so you have room between them. Sprinkle in pockets of the extras in between the cheese to fill in the rest of the board.
Place a small serving bowl and spoon on the board to serve the liquid foods such as preserves and honeys.
There are over 1,800 different types of cheese in the world. How does one tell them apart or decide on what to pick? You've got to know your cheeses! Here's a guide to how cheeses are categorised, to help you navigate this mountain of possibilities.
There are 6 characteristics that help describe and differentiate what cheeses are: type of milk, country or region of origin, age, texture, flavor, and preparation.
Milk is the base on cheese making. So the type, quality, and taste of the milk can wildly alter the resulting cheese.
Cow, sheep, and goat are the three most common milks used to make cheese, but it gets more complicated than that. Cheese can be made from any type of milk, so around the world the variety of milk bases for cheese continues on to buffalo, reindeer, yak, donkey, alpaca, camel, and horse.
Beyond simply species, different breeds of animals can also result in different milks. For example, three breed of cows are Jersey, Guernsey, and Brown Swiss. Each breed has a different quality within their milks based on different varying protein, fat, and solid contents. Certain breeds' milks are preferred for the production of certain cheeses, such as the red cow of Italy's Parma region used for Parmesan cheese or the Innisfail Shorthorn in England used for English Cheddar. The same holds true for sheep and goat breeds.
What the herd eats also effects its milk. Most people know the difference between grass fed vs grain fed, but even things like what wild flowers and type of grass herds feed on will effect the milk. Therefore, cheeses made of milks from different locations will have slight differences based on the herd's environment.
As cheese making continues, milk providers and cheese makers continue to work together and innovate in areas such as breeding new varieties of cows, sheep, etc. This in turn drives the invention of new cheeses.
True cheese can be produced anywhere, but that doesn't diminish the important of a cheese's origin. Feta, for example, in its rise in popularity started being produced everywhere. But no feta made outside of Greece is made in its true traditional form, with 70% rich sheep's milk. Many imitation cheeses of feta, parmesan, and gorgonzola just don't taste right. They can be bland and unappetising. But when you get the real deal, such as feta from Greece or parmesan from Parma, Italy, the cheese will be complex and rich in flavor and have the right texture and color. Cheeses from their original regions will be made according to the traditional methods, use the correct milks, and be aged to perfection.
Cheese packages will include a little label with a place of origin. Pay attention to these distinctions as they will tell you a little bit about the care that is taken for the type of cheese to be true to form and taste. In cheese, nothing beats the perfected originals!
Timing is everything. The most important step in cheese making is aging, where cheeses are left to rest in a controlled conditions. During this this the enzymes in the cheese slowly breaks down the fat and proteins of the milk into amino acids and fatty acids that provide the flavor. The longer a cheese sits the more the texture changes and the more the flavor intensifies. Different types of cheese require different aging periods, from two weeks to three or more years. So for many great cheeses, patients is needed.
There are a section of cheese that are eaten fresh, or without any aging. These are things such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, and ricotta.
Texture change is determined by the aging process used. Generally as a cheese ages, it looses moisture to go from soft to hard in texture while the flavor intensifies.
These young cheeses are unaged and rindless. They are the same bright white color and texture all the way through. Fresh cheeses have the highest water content. The texture does vary from creamy cream cheese, to lumpy cottage cheese, to elastic mozzarella.
Soft cheeses are aged up to a month and have a high moisture and fat content. Therefore these cheeses have a smooth, gooey texture. The pudding like interior is protected by an exterior bloom of mold that forms a fuzzy or flexible crust. Soft cheeses include brie, camembert, and, chevre.
Semi-soft cheeses are similar to the soft cheese in that it has a harder rind with a creamier interior. But in contrast, semi-soft cheeses only have a 36-45% water content. This makes these cheeses more elastic or rubbery in texture. This category includes havarti, provolone, and muenster.
These cheeses are pressed during production to squeeze out water content. They continue to dry out as they age. Semi-firm cheese is the perfect texture for shredding and slicing. Varieties of semi-firm include cheddar, edam, and gouda.
The end of the cheese texture scale, these dry, hard cheeses are best for grating and thinly slicing. Hard cheeses are crumbly and often even crunchy due to calcium lactate crystals. Types of hard cheeses include asiago d'allevo, manchego, and parmesan.
Blue-veinged cheeses break the normal cheese texture and flavor scale. While other cheeses get harder as flavor intensify, blue-veined cheeses develop pungent, strong flavors while keeping the rich and creamy texture of soft cheeses. How is this possible? Cheese makers introduce mold throughout the cheese during the aging process or pack in cheese curds for oxidation. Makers may also pierce the cheese with needles to provide channels which the mold grows through. The blue-grey mold growing throughout the cheese is what gives this category its name. Blue-veined cheeses include gorgonzola, roquefort, and stilton.
Cheese flavors are described on a scale of mild to extra sharp. Young cheeses tend to be mild while aged cheeses become stronger. The specific of mold and bacteria cultures introduced during the cheese making process also determines the cheese's flavor profile.
While some cheese purists prefer cheese in their simple, natural state, there are many cheese makers who infuse other flavors into their cheeses. Smoked jalapeno, cranberry, peppers, the flavor combination possibilities are endless. And so added flavors in cheese infinitely multiplies the possible cheeses.
Preparation, the process with which the cheese is made varies greatly. The type of mold or bacteria used to ripen cheese or if it is ripened at all. If the cheese is left sitting or stretched to create a stringy, chewy texture like mozzarella. Cheese can also be brined, pickled, or marinated. During aging the rind can be washed with water or even alcohols. Due to the long process of cheese making there are a thousand steps that can be tweaked that would result in a different cheese with unique looks, textures, and taste.