While making a cup of tea might seem like the simplest thing in the world (just dunk a teabag into hot water!) making a great cup of tea is a different matter entirely.
We’ve researched how to make the healthiest, best-tasting cup of green tea possible. Here’s how!
The Science of Tea
Mental Floss gives us some insight into the steeping process, and why it’s so important: “When the leaves are submerged in hot water, these [chemical] compounds leach into the liquid through a process called osmotic diffusion, which occurs when there’s fluid on both sides of a selectively permeable membrane—in this case, the tea leaf. Compounds on the surface of the leaf and in the interior cells damaged by processing will diffuse into the surrounding liquid until the compounds in both the leaf and the water reach equilibrium. In other words, if given enough time to steep, the liquid in your mug will become just as concentrated with tea compounds as the liquid in your tea leaves, and the ratio will stay that way.”
Loose Leaf or Bagged?
You can’t beat the convenience of tea bags, but loose-leaf tea is usually made with whole tea leaves rather than broken leaves. This means that the quality of the tea (and therefore the health benefits) may be greater.
Mental Floss goes on to say, “When given room to expand, loose tea leaves swell to their full capacity, creating more room for water to flow in and extract all those desirable compounds. Tea that comes prepackaged in a bag, on the other hand, only has so much room to grow, and the quality suffers as a result”.
Bottom line? If you can, choose loose-leaf teas for a better-quality brew.
We’ve all had times where we’ve forgotten a cup of tea amidst a harried morning’s work, only to come back and find it cold, tea bag still steeping, twenty minutes later. And while drinking a long-steeped cup of tea isn’t the worst thing in the world, there are best practices for how long to steep your tea in order to ensure you’re getting the best cup.
Very Well Fit advises that a great way to brew a cup of green tea is to ensure your water temperature and steep time are precisely monitored, “Green tea is generally heated to 140 to 185 F [60-85 C] and is brewed for one to three minutes “.
How you brew tea can affect the health-properties of the healthy properties in green tea, so it’s important to monitor the brew time and water temperature carefully.
Interestingly, the healthiest cup of tea might not be hot at all. “A study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in 2015, examined the antioxidant power of five white and green tea samples infused with hot (70 or 90 C for 7 minutes) or cold water (room temperature for 15, 30, 60, or 120 minutes),” says Very Well Fit. “The results indicated that for whole, large green tea leaves, the greatest antioxidant activity occurred when the tea was steeped in cold water for 120 minutes.”
So if you have the time, making a cup of cold brewed green tea from whole tea leaves might be your healthiest bet!
Scientific studies are useful, but the most important test to keep in mind is how the tea tastes to you. It doesn’t matter how healthy the tea is if you don’t like its taste!
Experiment with different brew times, different tea leaves, and even the cold brew method to see which one you like the best. When you do, you’ll be that much closer to making a habit of drinking two cups of green tea each day.