No matter how good the quality of the tea you’ve bought is, if you brew it wrong, it will produce a bad cup of tea. I’ve said this time and time again. It is one of the reasons that most Americans don’t drink tea: they don’t like it because they made it wrong.

So, in this installment of The Voice, I will lay down the law on tea preparation, once and for all, with some easy-to-follow tips to make the perfect cup of tea.guilty ... of making great tea!

There are really only four factors that need to be recognized to make a good cup of tea (minus, of course buying a good quality tea; but you’re reading this, so you’ve probably bought Tavalon already): volume, time, and water temperature. That’s all you need to remember! Allow me to explain:

The volume, or how much tea you use, is the important first aspect. If you use too little tea you will have a weak taste and a leftover sense of longing. Too much tea will result in not much more flavor and a lot of wasted tea (not to mention an empty wallet). While I always recommend following the directions on the label, the general rule of thumb is one TEAspoon for every 8-10oz water for all black teas (which is why they call it a TEA spoon), and slightly more as the tea gets more voluminous (aka less tea fits on the spoon).

Inattention to time is the #1 reason tea goes bad. True tea (from the Camellia sinensis tea plant) naturally contains tannins (the bitter stuff), and the longer you let the tea steep the more of the tannins are going to get into your cup. A simple kitchen timer or stopwatch is all you need. It makes all the difference. Once again, check out the specific directions on the label, but the general rules are: 3 min for greens/whites/light oolongs, 5 for black/herbal/dark oolongs.

Water temperature is also a critical factor to a good cup of tea. This is especially important with delicate teas, such as white and green teas. Since these teas undergo much less processing, they haven’t had the chance to build resilience to heat. Therefore, if you put these leaves in boiling water, you’ll immediately begin the release of the bitter stuff. The general, 180 F is a good middle ground for these delicate teas. However, those teas that have been processed more (black teas, etc) and those which don’t contain high levels of acid (herbal teas) can take the heat, so boiling water is not only acceptable but necessary for full flavor.

bad water can be killerAs a sub-factor of the water temperature section, I feel it is significant to note the quality of the water as well. Tap water may be good for dogs and ice cubes, but a good quality filtered water is appropriate for good quality tea.

As you can tell, with just a little preparation and care, tea can be one of the most delicious and healthy beverages you can put in your body!