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Top Tea Tips for Rookie Tea Drinkers

Updated on October 24, 2015

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"Three most deplorable things in the world: the spoiling of fine youths through false education, the degradation of fine paintings through vulgar admiration, and the utter waste of fine tea through incompetent manipulation." - Lichihlai, a Sung poet

A perfect understanding of how to boil water and steep a tea bag doesn't necessarily contribute to a perfect cup of tea! There is a little more to the art of making tea than that. These tea tips are not only for tea drinkers who would like to refine their tea preparing skills, but also inquisitive individuals who want to become more discerning about this nourishing beverage and its culture.


Talking like Tea Tasters

I sometimes get nauseated by haughty wine tasters who can spend hours boasting about their sophisticated nose and well-trained palate. "All right! You're very knowledgeable about rotten grape juice. How impressive!" That's what I always want to say to them, but of course, have never gathered enough courage to do so. As for tea tasters, I often find them more businesslike in attitude and less snooty about their skills. One thing both wine and tea tasters have in common, however, is the fact that they like conversing in codes. In other words, they often use a lingo that people outside their circle might not fully comprehend. These are some of the terms you might hear tea experts use to describe their revered beverage:

Brassy - Unlike a brassy person, a brassy tea is not necessarily unpleasant. It just has a strong bitter aftertaste, which certain tea drinkers might actually like.

Bright - This does not only construe the color of the tea but also its freshness. When a tea taster says that the tea is bright, it usually means it is fresh, high quality and not dull in appearance.

Brisk - Most tea drinkers love their tea to be brisk, as it means the tea is well-fermented and extremely aromatic.

Flat - Just like a flat performance, a flat tea is disappointing in many ways. It refers to a stale tea that has been exposed to too much moisture and lost most of its aroma.

Full-bodied - It is tea tasters' term for "awesome." A full-bodied tea is rich in flavor, intense in aroma, and pleasant in color. In fact, wine tasters use this to describe a high-quality wine as well.

Greenish - When tea experts consider a tea to be greenish, it doesn't mean the tea is fresh or emerald in color. In a tea taster circle, this word has a negative meaning; it depicts a tea that is under-fermented and therefore weak in flavor.

Long in the mouth - Many of you can probably figure out what this means. It describes a tea with a long-lasting aftertaste.

Tainted - This is probably worse than brassy, flat and greenish combined. When an expert labels a tea as "tainted", it means the flavor is really off due to chemicals used in cultivation or pollution during transportation.

These terms can be very useful if you want to have a serious conversation with a tea taster or sound like one yourself. Other than that, you may not really need to use them. I'm a pretty hardcore tea drinker myself, but I hardly ever use these words to critique my tea. When the tea is good, I would normally say, "I like it." And when it doesn't please me, I would simply declare, "It sucks!"

Popular Types of Tea

You will not be considered an elite tea drinker unless you can name at least ten well-known types of tea and understand their distinctive characteristics. So here is a little list of legendary teas, some of which have been in the spotlight for centuries:

Assam - This famous tea is from northeastern India. It is very intense in aroma, bright in color, and a little malty in flavor.

Chai - Chai is another Indian tea that has become a celebrity in the western world. Traditionally, it is made with milk and spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and cloves. That's why there's a fine herbal flavor in it.

Darjeeling - Grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, Darjeeling is regarded as Indian's most exquisite tea. Its color is slightly yellow while its taste is very strong and a little fruity.

Earl Grey - This Indian black tea is named after a British Prime Minister, Charles Grey. Legend has it that Earl Grey found the Indian tea imported to England in the 1830s to be too tart, so he created his own version of Indian tea by adding a bit of bergamot oil and orange to it. As a result, Earl Grey tea contains a sweetish and slightly acidic flavor.

English Breakfast - This so-called English tea was actually invented in Scotland. It is a concoction of various types of black tea, which come out together as a refined beverage with a floral and toasty scent.

Gunpowder - This green tea with a slightly peppery taste and an ominous-sounding name is originally from the Guangdong province, China. The tea is called "gunpowder" due to its smoky aroma and the fact that its rolled-up leaves tend to hugely explode in size during the brewing process.

Matcha - Matcha is the strongest of all green teas. Its taste is grassy and bittersweet. Its consistency is thick and a little frothy. This famous tea is the one used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

Oolong - This special tea is titled the "Champagne of teas." It is neither green nor black tea, but falls between the two categories. Its whole leaves are briefly fermented, thus it doesn't contain the raw grassy taste like most green teas do. In addition, Oolong is much less astringent than black tea and contains a sweeter aftertaste.

Pu-Erh - This is the only tea on the list I have never tried, because its price always makes me wince. A little cup of Pu-Erh tea usually costs around $50. Unlike other teas, the majestic Pu-Erh is produced in a similar fashion to wine. It is fermented twice, then pressed into teacakes and allowed to mature in a bamboo basket for decades. People who are fortunate enough to try this tea mostly agree that it has an incredibly intense flavor but is not at all bitter.

Sencha - Sencha is the most popular green tea in Japan nowadays. Its flavor is similar to Matcha but a bit milder, and the consistency is not as thick.

Making a Perfect Cup of Tea

  • Heat some water in a kettle or little pot. Remember to use filtered or bottled cold water for this process. Do not use hot tap water; it tends to make your tea turn insipid rather than fresh and fragrant.
  • Add about a cup of hot water to your teapot. Swish it around for about a minute, then discard the water. This will keep the teapot warm for a longer period of time. In addition, many tea experts agree that a preheated teapot can bring out more flavor and aroma from the tea.
  • Put loose tea leaves into the teapot. The leaves should completely cover the bottom of the pot, like a very thin carpet. However, there is an exception to this rule. If you are making Oolong or Gunpowder tea, don't entirely coat the bottom of the pot with tea leaves. Instead, cover only half of it, as the tea leaves will likely double in size after you add hot water.
  • If you would like to use tea bags instead of loose tea, the process is still the same. Add tea bags to the teapot before pouring hot water in it. The proper ratio is one bag per cup. Or you can just add a tea bag to a preheated cup and skip the use of a teapot completely.
  • Pour hot water into the teapot and let the tea steep for 2 - 3 minutes. (Some tea books say that the water should be boiling while many others argue it should be hot but not boiling. I have tried making my tea both ways, and from many personal trials, I have to agree that hot water is better! Boiling water tends to lessen rather than enhance the tea's flavor.)
  • Meanwhile, preheat your tea cup or mug with hot water, the same way you did with the teapot.
  • Add some milk to the cup if you like. Always put milk into the cup before the brewed tea in order to prevent the milk from curdling.
  • Once the tea is ready, gently shake the teapot and allow the tea leaves to settle before pouring it into your cup.
  • Add sweetener and/or other spices of your choice. This process is optional. Some tea drinkers love their tea just the way it is.
  • Slowly sip and satiate it. Leave all your work and worries behind. Ah, the the simple joy of tea!

Tea and Teeth

Tea is abundant in fluoride, a dental nutrient that strengthens tooth enamel and accordingly protects our teeth from plaque. However, like coffee and red wine, tea also contains tannins, an astringent compound that might stain our teeth. So are tea drinkers all doomed to carry a yucky yellowish smile? Not necessarily. To keep your teeth white and shiny without having to quit drinking tea, try to rinse your mouth with water several times a day. Avoid the high tannin content in black tea, and opt for green or white tea instead. Choosing iced tea over the hot version also helps, as heated liquids can penetrate tooth enamel more easily. In case you are keenly concerned about the whiteness of your teeth, always use a straw to drink your tea; this can minimize the impact of tannins on the teeth.


Submit a Comment

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    @KDeus - I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and found these tea tips interesting. Thanks for your comment, vote and pin. :)

  • KDeus profile image

    Keely Deuschle 5 years ago from Florida

    I'm a long time tea drinker and was fascinated by your hub! Thanks for sharing! Pinning and voting up while I'm drinking some Korean green tea!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    Thanks for stopping by, KoffeeKlatch. Glad to know you're also into tea. Maybe we should have a tea club on HP :)

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Om, I am a dedicated tea drinker. I love a full-bodied tea. Wonderful hub - I learned a few things I didn't know.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Ah don't let them lie idly in the pantry! You can open up those tea bags and use the ground tea for cooking!

  • PaperNotes profile image

    PaperNotes 7 years ago

    Yes, indeed. When I have the ingredients for brewing tea, I really take the time to make my tea. When I run out of the ingredients, I suffice with the tea bag. Yet they taste differently from each other. Now the unused tea bags just lie idle in the pantry...

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Tea drinking is a good habit to develop! Thanks so much for the read and nice comment, fastfreta. :)

  • fastfreta profile image

    Alfreta Sailor 7 years ago from Southern California

    I've only heard of half of these, but I sure would like to try them all. I've just begun a serious habit of tea drinking, so I'm on a quest to try as many teas as possible. Thanks for giving me more to try. Very good hub.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Hey, even if you were the only one drinking it, it would still be ok. It's tea, not vodka. :)

  • danatheteacher profile image

    Dana Rock 7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

    I love tea! Thanks for the tips. I have a whole gallon of ice tea (no I'm not the only one drinking it) next to me.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Hi, jcalbon. I'm glad you like this article. I'm actually drinking a cup of oolong right now and it's very brisk! :)

  • profile image

    jcalbon 7 years ago

    I really enjoyed how in-depth you went with these tips--I didn't know there was a whole tea drinking vocabulary, and can't wait to start trying some of those terms out. Thanks!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Thank you. I appreciate nice comments. ;)

  • crescentaurora1 profile image

    crescentaurora1 7 years ago from Alameda, CA

    Love this! I appreciate good tea.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Hi Miss Faust, thanks for dropping by. Sorry to hear you're not enjoying your tea. It's possible that chemicals in low-quality tea could make you sick or maybe your body just doesn't like caffeine. Anyway, try organic tea from natural food stores; it will definitely be better. :)

  • Miss Faust profile image

    Miss Faust 7 years ago from Houston, TX

    Lovely page! I found it by googling "Why is my tea bitter" LOL There is nothing I hate more than the long, lingering aftertaste of bitter tea. :( It makes me a sad panda. I also do not like my tea to have caffiene in it because I seem to have an allergy to caffinated tea. Though, since I get my tea from big grocery stores, I wonder if maybe it's tons of chemicals in my tea that makes me sick? Would organic teas be better for me than teas you could buy at say Krogers or Walmart or whatever? I really love my tea and used to live off it as a teen but in my 20s I just can't drink it like I used to! I'd love to get back my tea groove.. (I also only drink Iced Tea and have only had "Hot" tea once!)

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Thanks for commenting and rating this, Peggy. Actually, I've got to try something new, too. There're sooooooo many types of interesting flavored-teas nowadays. The tea section in my nearby Asian grocery store has become pretty huge! :)

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    $50 for a cup of Pu-Erh tea! Wow! I would think twice before ordering it also! I am familiar with some but not all the teas you mentioned in this hub and enjoyed learning the terminology as well. I always have several types of teas in the house and may have to branch out and try some more after reading this hub. Rating it useful!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Thanks for dropping by, MG. Sounds like you're a hardcore tea drinker just like me. If you come to California, maybe we should have some tea together! :)

  • Money Glitch profile image

    Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

    Oh my goodness, Om, my friend I thought I knew something about teas. "NOT" LOL! I've got to learn 'the' language. Hehehe! I drink my 3 to 4 cups of green, black, or chai tea daily since it's healthy for you.

    And there is usually at least 4 to 5 different flavors of herbal teas at my home always. But again, thanks for the education. Rating this awesome and useful and bookmarking for future reference. :)

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Hi 2besure, thanks for the read. According to Dr. Tea, all types of tea (not just oolong and green tea) can facilitate weight loss. Not sure how true that is. I drink tea everyday just because I like it! :)

  • 2besure profile image

    Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    I really enjoy a good cup of tea. I like my with milk, but also enjoy it with honey and a bit of lemon. I also have lose leave Oolong tea to help with my weight.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Thanks for the read, Katie. I see you like teas that are very hearty while your daughters prefer those with little spices. As for me, I love both the hearty and the spicy! Oolong and Earl Grey are my favorites. Sipping my Earl Grey right now! :)

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

    I love tea, have grown up on tea and adore a good organic green Sencha,Gunpowder,Matcha and or Oolong tea as these are my favorite drinking them daily.

    My daughters love Chai and Earl Grey. Glad to read you added the English Breakfast Tea is really a tea of Scotland, My homeland!

    I love going on treasure hunts for good tea, its shameful the tainted tea on the market here in the states. As demand has increased over the years the temptation to use chemicals grows. I love to imagine my tea coming from a private farmer up the foot hills who still practices the art of its tradition.

    I love this tea tips tribute and will share this and book mark it as to me tea is a celebration of life. Now I'm craving a cup of Oolong.

    Peace :)

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    @saurabh - Yes, that is correct!

    @quicksand - Well, next time try making it the way I do. Maybe you'll "chob" your "cha" better. Kop khun ka for the read. :)

    @readabook - Thanks a lot. :)

  • profile image

    readabook 7 years ago

    Going to try hot instead of boiling and compare taste. Great hub as always.

  • quicksand profile image

    quicksand 7 years ago

    Whenever the need arises for me to make tea, I simply add the tea leaves, milk powder and sugar to some water in a pan, close it and let it boil like hell.

    Then I strain it and serve it. Tastes the same as having boiled the water, brewing the tea and then adding milk and sugar!

    Pom chop nam chaa!

  • saurabh34 profile image

    saurabh34 7 years ago

    Like coffee and colas, tea can stain teeth, although it's not as big an offender as tobacco (smoked or chewed). Any food or drink capable of staining clothes or carpets can also stain teeth - that includes fruit juices, red wine, blueberries, soy sauce, and curry.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    @anglnwu - Thank you! Talking about tea stain on the teeth, there's one tip I forgot to add: an electric toothbrush can get rid of the stain more effectively than a normal one!

    @akirchner - Thanks. I enjoy both coffee and tea, but I like tea a bit better. :)

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

    Awesome hub - and oh "darjeeling," I just have to say I love that photo! How cool - and thanks for the info on tea tips for rookie tea drinkers. I'm more of a coffee gal but I do love a good cup of tea!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    I'm a tea drinker yet I find this hub totally enlightening. From types of tea to the preparation method, this hub is full of information. Love the tip about tea stain on teeth too. Rated useful.