Tea for Beginners: Build Your Tea Starter Kit

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When it comes to tea, there aren’t any rules. You can jump right in and experiment to find your favorite way to brew it. However, there is such a vast array of tea types, and tea brewing equipment that is can still be overwhelming for someone with very little experience. Especially when you want to ensure that you enjoy it. Knowing the basics is the best way to get a good start so that you’re not blindly figuring things out as you go along. Here are some simple tea guidelines that’ll put you on the right track.

Which tea should I drink?

If you’re totally new to tea then the very first question you’ll probably have is, “what’s out there for me to try?”

While tea comes in all kinds of flavors and blends, true tea falls into 4 different types: black tea, oolong tea, green tea, and white tea. Black tea is the most processed tea while white tea is the least processed.

The best thing that you can do is try different varieties of each type of tea to get an idea of the different flavors you like. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to find the one for you. All teas taste different, even if it’s the same type of tea, you may find that you prefer certain brands over others. A good way to try many teas is to buy a tea sampler. This will come with several flavors that you can delight in.

Other than true teas, you can also find herbal teas. These are teas that don’t necessarily come from a tea plant.

A Beginner’s Guide to Tea

 

Types of Teas

Black Tea
The name “black tea” comes from the black colors of the tea leaves after oxidation. Black tea has the strongest flavor. Because it’s the most oxidized, it also has the most caffeine of any tea, making it a really good substitute for coffee. Black tea will usually store longer than most other teas.

Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is a tea that often gets forgotten. This type of tea is well loved in China. The leaves and the buds are dried in the sun and oxidized. There are several techniques for producing oolong, and as a result there are a wide range of flavors. The caffeine content in oolong is less than black tea but still higher than both green and white.

Green Tea
Green tea is made with minimal processing and oxidation, preserving a lot of its health benefits. It has high levels of polyphenols. Green tea comes in a variety of flavors. Its natural taste is light and fresh with just a hint of sweetness. Some note that it can have a grassy flavor when not prepared correctly.

White Tea
White tea is the least processed of all. It’s made from the young buds of the tea plant, and it’s abundant in health benefits and antioxidants. The flavor is very light and smooth. If you looking the least caffeinated of the group, this is it.

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Basic Tips and Tricks for Brewing Tea

  • Always fill your kettle with fresh, cold water.
  • Poor quality water can affect the taste of your tea. If you’re unsure, go with filtered water.
  • Only boil your water once. It’s best to use fresh water with each boil.
  • Find the right water temperature depending on the tea. The darker the tea, the hotter the water should be.
  • In addition to water temperature, you’re going to want to make sure you steep your tea for the correct amount of time so that you don’t get a cup that is too weak or too bitter.

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What you should have to make a great cup of tea

Gather these essential items and you’ll be ready to make delicious tea in your home.

An infuser for loose teas

If you intend to explore the world of loose leaf teas, than an infuser is an essential item. An infuser, or a tea ball is used to hold the loose tea. You put the desired amount inside, and then drop it into your cup or pot of hot water. This will prevent tea leaves from escaping into the water. No one wants a chunky cup of tea.

There are many different kinds of infusers, but most of them will do the job the same. Some are created so that they fit perfectly into a mug and allow lots of room for the leaves to expand. Others are smaller and can be used in your mug or placed into a pot.

When it comes to tea infusers, it’s easy to find them for cheap, but there is a good chance that you’re not going to be happy with the quality if you decide to go that route. A lot of the cheaper kinds are flimsily made, difficult to keep shut, the leaves may escape, or worse, the metal will rust, rendering the item unusable. It’s better to go with something that’s going to last, especially when you intend to use it regularly.

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Sweet Leaf Tea Infuser
This is an infuser that is visually stunning and works perfectly for steeping your tea. The stainless steel cup sits upright on its own, so it’s very easy to get the tea inside. When it’s filled up, all you have to do is place the silicone topper right back on top. After you’re done, cleaning is very easy, just dump the contents out and wash.

The holes in this infuser are small enough that leaves will not come out. The silicone handle doesn’t get hot, so you can touch it easily. A drip tray is included. This is nice because you’ll have a place to set the infuser when you’re done steeping without having to get up.

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A kettle for water boiling

Boiling water is one of the most important parts of brewing a magnificent cup of tea. You need to master tea temperatures so that you’ll have the perfect amount of heat for opening all different kinds of tea blends.

Deciding how to get your water boiled is really a matter of personal preference. you can opt for a traditional stovetop kettle, or get an electric one so that you can use it from anywhere in the house, or bring it with you to the office. There are even tea makers that will do all the work for you, from boiling the water, to steeping the tea just long enough. However, these tend to be rather pricey and I wouldn’t recommend one unless you really love tea and drink it all the time.

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Ovente Glass Kettle
This is a spectacular glass kettle that’ll keep your water away from metal and plastic if that’s a personal concern of yours. Many prefer the glass material over the metal types because it won’t add in any extra flavor to the water, however this is really just a matter of preference and there are good kettles to be found in every material.

The kettle has a lot of cool features. It lights up as the water is boiling, and then it shuts down when the water is finished boiling so that the product doesn’t get damaged. Overall, the water boiling process is a pleasure.

The kettle itself is cordless so that you can remove it from the base easily and bring it anywhere.

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A teapot for serving and brewing

A kettle is strictly for boiling water, so you’re going to need a teapot for the brewing process. You can of course, skip this if you only intend to make one cup of tea at a time. Otherwise a teapot is a great way to hold multiple cups of tea and serve tea to others.

Ideally, if you’re brewing loose tea in a pot, you’re going to want to get one that has an infuser in it. You can even find teapots that can be placed on the stove and used for both boiling and steeping. Some can even be put in the microwave. That’s perfect for reheating a pot of tea that’s gone cold.

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Hario Chacha Glass Teapot
This is an inexpensive yet wonderful glass teapot that I have talked about endlessly all over this site. If you want to skip out on an infuser and get a pot that has one then this is the way to go.

The infuser in this pot is gigantic. There is ample room for allowing the tea leaves to grow and circulate. Aside from that, a bigger infuser means that your leaves will always be touching the water. One of the problems I’ve come across with certain teapots is that the infuser is set too high, making it a useless item, especially if you don’t want your pot filled to the brim. That’s not a problem at all with the Hario Chacha pot.

Additionally this pot is easy to use, easy to clean, and has excellent water pouring capabilities with absolutely no spillage.

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A tea brewing kit to get you started

If you want to get everything all in one go, you can always find a great tea starter set that will include everything you need.

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Numi Artisan Tea Blending Kit
This blending kit from Numi includes a ton of fun stuff for brewing tea. It comes with a glass teapot, 10 organize teas and herbs, 20 tea sacs, and a recipe book. The loose teas and herbs that are included are: green tea, black tea, white tea, and rooibos tea. You also get mint, ginger, lemongrass, orange peel, cinnamon, and rose petals.

This set allows you craft your own tea blends to your own personal taste by mixing and matching all of the different ingredients. You put the ingredients into the tea sacs and then use those for steeping. If you have purchased an infuser, that should be fine to use as well.

Considering the price of this entire set is similar to the price that many nice teapots go for, this is a really cool way to get your hands on a pot while getting some bonus tea with it, and it’ll get you started experimenting right away.

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