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Kiley Holliday's Tips on How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

Tips For Brewing the Best Ever Cup of Tea

I'm an avid coffee drinker, and have always preferred it to tea. But perhaps I can be converted. According to tea expert Kiley Holliday, she used to feel the same way about coffee, drinking it constantly throughout the morning. Yet today, she's the youngest female certified tea master in the United States, and owns l'Age de Thé, a New York City-based fine tea company specializing in custom, hand-blended teas.
I asked Kiley to offer some pointers for an uneducated tea drinker such as myself. As she shared her suggestions, I realized I've been making tea all wrong —  which means that now I need to give it another chance! Are you brewing your tea the right way? Find out when you read more.

  • Choose a tea with characteristics that suit you. It may sound obvious, but tailor your tea choices to suit your taste buds. If you're used to drinking coffee, for instance, try a stronger black tea with a similar richness, such as Irish breakfast. Begin enjoying it with the same milk and sweetener, that you typically include in coffee.
  • Skip the tea bags. Teabags contain the lowest grade tea. Kiley offered a telling story: "When you visit a tea processing plant, as they're sorting a tea, it goes through a series of different trays. The largest leaves hold the most flavor; the tea in tea bags is the dust they sweep up off the floor."
  • Don't oversteep your tea. Teas become bitter or develop an astringent quality if they've been steeped for too long, Holliday says. Never steep green or white tea past three minutes, or black tea past five. While most herbal teas can continue to brew for up to 10 minutes, chamomile tea will become bitter in taste after about eight minutes.
  • Make sure you add the right amount of tea. Don't add too little tea, because then it'll taste watery. Add a heaping teaspoon of tea for every six ounces of water.
  • Pay attention to temperature. When it comes to green tea, "the secret to brewing it very well is temperature," she says. While boiling water is required when brewing black tea, Holliday recommends a different technique with green tea: Boil the water, turn off the kettle, and let it sit for about five minutes. When it's reached 180ºF, mix the water with the leaves.

What tips can you offer for drinking tea?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
muse2323 muse2323 7 years
I keep teabags around for traveling--it's so handy to keep a few in your purse in case the place you stop to eat either doesn't offer tea at all or only offers the nasty ones like Red Rose. At home, though, I've mostly switched to loose teas. Recently found a place in Chico, CA, called T. (tea bar & fusion cafe) that produces amazing teas. Hope they'll be able to ship me some more when I've gone through what I bought! I also remove the water before boiling to make green tea. I'm thinking of, sometime down the road, investing in the Cuisinart tea kettle that has a thermometer on it with the perfect temps for green, black, oolong and tisanes marked on the gauge.
LittleMzFit LittleMzFit 7 years
I was told to wait 2 minutes (after boiling) on the green tea or take the pot off just before boiling. I'm thinking of using a thermometer, but afraid that would take all the fun out of it. :) It's true about the tea bags, all you get is the fannings. Sometimes, I still use them for convenience sake (string free & tag free). <3 tea!
brownsugamama brownsugamama 7 years
I just bought 4 boxes of tea today. I had no idea about the different grades.
fuzzles fuzzles 7 years
Awesome information! Thanks! Of course, I've been doing it wrong! I'll have to give tea another try.
Angelica Angelica 7 years
I had no idea bagged tea was the lowest quality stuff! Good to know!
AmberHoney AmberHoney 7 years
Tea lover here, but then I love all liquids. I drink something constantly. Since I've been on an edible flower kick for the last couple of years, I've also discovered some great tea sites. Eat, drink and be merry every day of your life! I've even made some Earl Grey scones that were very, very tasty.
kulikuli kulikuli 7 years
My family always, and i mean always drinks tea, morning noon and night, just like Pharm_chick. But we are Palestinian,so usually we add either fresh mint, or dried white sage (we call it maramiyah). For the longest time i didnt know it was sage we were putting in the tea, i only knew it by the arab name, but it makes some delicious tea. We also use the black tea leaves and put them right into the water as we boil it together, no bags. Oh and sugar, lots of sugar!
primerstar6 primerstar6 7 years
i'm tea obsessed. it's all i ever drink. my absolute favorite tea source is . really fantastic selection prices and service. some of my faves are Golden Nepal and Formosa Oolong.
michlny michlny 7 years
Wow...great info. Drink tea daily and didn't know about tea bags :( or even steeping time...whoopsies!
pharm_chick pharm_chick 7 years
i know when i visit india, my inlaws (and literally everyone else in india lol) are huge fans of tea... almost everyone drinks like 3 cups a day. my MIL puts the tea leaves separately to boil and the milk is boiled separately. she then adds them both almost simultaneously before drinking. my preference is to boil some water, add tea leaves, some sugar, some shaved ginger and some crushed cardamon pods; after it boils i pour in the milk and let it almost boil over.. then i strain it and enjoy. its like, the best cup of tea
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