Ask a Tea Specialist: How to Make Better Tea At Home!

photo credit: @silkroadteas

Add expertly-made tea to your at-home beverage rotation with tips from the Deli’s tea guru, Jackson Konwinski. According to Jackson, the most frequently asked question he gets from guests about tea is, “How do I make better tea at home?” 

He’s here to set the record straight, and to equip Deli guests with all of the insider tricks they need to brew tea like an expert. “There’s not a one-sentence answer to this one but it’s still pretty simple,” he said. With an investment in a few pieces of simple equipment, you’ll be well on your way to brewing your tea like Jackson! 

Here are Jackson’s top tips for brewing up the perfectly-brewed cup of tea at home:

  1. Start with good tea.Quality loose leaf is best but there are certainly great options in bags (like the ones the Deli sells). Ask for help! We love giving recommendations. If you want to choose on your own, start with a tea you already know and love. Then find something in the same category and try it out. For example, if your favorite tea is a green tea, try a different variety of green tea! Read tasting notes. Pay attention – does your mouth start watering? That’s the tea for you.”
  2. Pot of Zingerman's TeaDose is important. “Measure your tea with a measuring spoon or, ideally, a digital scale that is accurate to 0.1g or finer. Measure your water, too, and don’t use distilled water! Your tea needs ions from the minerals in regular water to bind with the compounds in the tea. Once you get more practiced you can often eyeball it, but it’s good to start by measuring.”
  3. Pay attention to temperature and time.Temperature and time are crucial. If you were to only follow ONE point of advice on this list, make it this one. Green teas, for example, are especially sensitive to both. Ten degrees too hot or 30 seconds too long can be the difference between an amazing experience and something bitter and disappointing. Use a probe thermometer so there’s no guessing. Use a timer (like the one on your phone) to make sure you don’t forget to stop the steeping process in time.”
  4. Storage. “The best tea storage is in an airtight container away from light and heat. We sell our loose tea in zip bags that will keep the tea fresh for up to 2 years. Beyond that, I would recommend a metal tin with a double lid or a trusty mason jar with a new lid and band. If you live in a humid environment, adding a silica gel desiccant packet is a good bonus idea.”
  5. Choose your brewing vessel with care. “A good porcelain or glass teapot is probably the best all-around option. Yes, there are porous clay teapots that are meant to slowly take on the character of a single tea but that’s for weirdos like me, not the average person. For something more affordable and portable, we carry a Rishi Brewing Basket that works in most mugs or cups and is light enough to go camping with. Or, a fine mesh strainer and a pair of mason jars (one to brew, one to drink from) will do a fine job. Just make sure you use a potholder or oven mitt so you don’t burn your hands on the glass!”

Remember: there is no right or wrong answer on how to make your tea. Start with the recommended directions but feel empowered to make changes that YOU like. After all, it’s your tea! If it’s delicious and enjoyable to you, that’s the perfect way to make it.