How to Make Tea Like a Pro (Even If You’ve Never Tried Before)
Tea, even the knock-your-socks-off Zest kind, doesn’t make itself. You need to brew up a mug or cup before you can drink it, and if this is your first time making tea, you may be wondering where the hell to start.
But don’t panic, in this guide, we’ve split tea-making methods into three easy beginner levels that anyone can master.
Level 1: Brewing From a Tea Bags
You need three things to ace this level:
- A green or black pyramid tea bag, with a tag. (We’re using Zest Blue Lady)
- A mug or cup (your usual coffee mug will do).
- Boiling water.
Honestly, the hardest part is selecting which tea to try first. Then, we put it all together.
- Put your mug on the kitchen worktop. Both the mug and the surface need to be heat resistant. If you pour hot tea into a drinking glass, for example, it could shatter. So use any standard porcelain-type mug that’s designed for hot liquids.
- Boil your water, then wait for it to stop bubbling vigorously (only a few seconds). You can either boil water on the stovetop or with an electric kettle and pour it into your mug. Alternatively, you can pour water in your mug and boil it in the microwave. However, this should really be a last resort because it sometimes leads to uneven heating. Either way, you want your mug to be almost filled to the top but not overflowing, so stop 1cm before the top of the mug.
- Add your pyramid tea bag. Hold onto the paper tag and dunk the pyramid sachet end into your mug. Let the tag hang over the side of the mug. The Zest Tea pyramid should submerge into the water and start to brew.
- Wait patiently. Zest Tea typically takes between 3 and 5 minutes to brew completely. During this time, you can tug the tag of the teabag around to “stir” the tea. This is also a good time to grab a tea-time snack.
- Remove the tea bag. Hold onto the tag and lift the teabag out of the mug. Wait for it to drip (it always does), but do not squeeze the bag (otherwise you’ll release extra tannins that can make your tea too bitter), then discard the teabag. You can put it straight in the trash, or send it out with food waste - our tea pyramids are biodegradable!
- Take a sip. Now is the time to enjoy your cup of tea. It will be super hot, so leave it for a few minutes to cool a little before taking that first sip.
Level 2: Turning Hot Tea to Iced Tea
Once you’ve mastered level 1, this will be a piece of cake. To turn your hot tea into iced tea, you essentially just need to pour your hot tea over ice. This instantly cools it and also dilutes it a little, so brew your tea nice and strong. You will need:
- Hot tea that’s brewed strongly using the method above.
- A tall glass or pitcher.
- Plenty of ice.
Here we go:
- Brew your favorite Tea. You can drink any of our Zest hot tea flavors iced, so pick your favorite and brew it following the method in level 1. If you want to make a whole pitcher of iced tea, you’ll need to brew a lot of hot tea first. Per serving/person, use one tea bag in 250ml of water.
- Put your ice in a glass or pitcher. Be generous with the ice - fill your glass/pitcher at least ¾ full. Remember, the hot tea will melt some of the ice. This is also a good time to add honey, mint leaves, and even fruit pieces to your ice for additional flavor.
- Pour your brewed tea over the ice. This will instantly ice your hot tea! You can add more ice to replace what melted if you like.
PRO TIP: If you don’t want to dilute your tea so much when you pour it over ice, let the hot tea cool on the side for 10 minutes before you add it.
Level 3: Brewing Loose Leaf Tea
The concept is the same, but you’ll need a little extra equipment:
- Loose leaf tea. (We’re using Zest Tea Spicy Masala Chai)
- A teaspoon.
- An Infuser of some sort and a mug. (At Zest we have the Zest Infuser Mug, Paris Tea Cup Infuser, or a T-Sac.)
- Boiling water.
So, you have some options here!
- If you’re using the T-Sac, just fill it with 1 teaspoon (approx. 2g) of loose leaf, tie off the end, and use it like a tea bag in the level 1 method.
If you’re using the Paris Infuser or Zest Infuser Mug, it’s a little different.
- Add 1 teaspoon (2g) of loose leaf tea to your infuser. Put the leaf directly in the metal part of the infuser mug, or in the Paris infuser. Make sure these infusers are sitting nicely inside your mug.
- Pour boiling water into the infuser, inside the mug. The water will flow through the infuser and into the mug, filling up like normal. The leaf will swirl around and start brewing immediately. You can stir it gently with a teaspoon if you like.
- Remove the infuser. Carefully grasp the edge of the metal infuser once your tea has brewed, and remove the infuser basket with the tea inside. The water will fall through the infuser into your mug.
- Discard the tea. Let the leaves cool a little, then just tap the infuser upside down to shake out the spent leaves directly into the trash.
Voila - a nice hot cup of Zest Tea, made with loose leaf.
Bonus Level: Iced Tea Hack
There is a quick way to get delicious Zest iced tea. Check out our range of sparkling teas! These 6 flavors have the same high-caffeine, low to no sugar formula as our hot teas, but they’re already cold and ready to go.
All you need to do is open a can and start sipping.
Tips and Tricks on How to Make Tea
To take your cuppa from great to mind-blowing, try these tricks and tips.
Boiling Water Methods
Unless you happen to have a kettle, you’ll need to boil your water for your cuppa tea using the stovetop or microwave. Both methods are perfectly fine for brewing Zest Tea.
A standard microwave can take up to 3 minutes to boil a full mug of water. It may bubble and boil over, so be careful when you take it out of the microwave. 1
Boiling water on the stove is typically less energy efficient and may take longer - put the lid on your pot of water to help speed things up.
3 to 5 minutes is just a recommendation! If you like your tea quite weak and gentle, stop at 3 minutes and take a sip. If you like your tea bold and strong, brew for the full 5 minutes.
Remember, the longer you brew your tea, the more caffeine (and flavor) infuses into your water from the tea leaves.
How to Brew Tea Bags Correctly
There is a little trick here! The best way to brew tea bags is to let them do their thing, with minimal fussing.
Do swirl the tea bag around your mug and let the water flow naturally through the tea leaves.
Don’t push, squish and mash the tea bag against the side of your mug. This releases tannins and can over-steep the tea, giving it a bitter taste.
Is Loose Leaf Different From Tea Bags?
At Zest Tea, the same flavors are available as loose leaf as well as tea bags. Whether you opt for tea bags or loose leaf tea, you’ll still get up to 150mg of caffeine per cup and a very tasty tea to drink.
Choosing between Zest tea bags and loose leaf is completely down to personal preference.
Adding Milk, Lemon, Honey, or Sugar...Sweet Tea
Our hot tea blends already include natural, non-GMO flavors from fruits to spices, but if you want a little extra, you can add these ingredients to your cup.
- Milk - this is best with black teas, not green teas. Our Earl Grey, Spicy Masala Chai, and Blue Lady are nice with a splash of milk. Add your milk (or dairy-free milk alternative) after the tea has brewed. Add a small amount until it is a mid-brown color (or to taste).
- Lemon - an alternative to milk, it adds a bright sharpness to black and green tea blends. After brewing your tea, add a slice of lemon or a very small squeeze of lemon juice to your cup. Lemon slices are also lovely in iced Zest Tea.
For Something Sweet:
- Honey - a natural sweetener, but not a vegan one. Honey has some nice health benefits too, as it’s full of antioxidants and has medicinal properties. 2 Some people believe adding honey to hot tea nulls these health benefits, but there’s no scientific study or evidence confirming that.
- Sugar - we like our tea sugar-free. 150mg of caffeine is all the energy we need! But you can add a small teaspoon of sugar to any of our teas after they’ve brewed.
So who’s ready to make some tea?