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9 Brewing Tips Every Tea Lover Should Know

Whether your daily ritual is an afternoon cup (pinkies up!) or a calming mug before bed, here's how to make sure your brew is the very best it can be.

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Photo: Evi Abeler

Tea Time

Though making the perfect pot or cup isn't an exact science, there's chemistry involved in extracting balanced flavors and beneficial nutrients out of tea leaves. It all boils down to this: Take your time to do it right by following these basic rules.

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Bags or Leaves?

For the best quality, buy loose tea, which tends to be fresher, more flavorful and contain whole leaves. Many tea bags hold over-processed, crushed leaves of a lesser quality. If you're drawn to the ease of bags, seek out whole leaves packaged in roomier satchels, pyramids or pouches, which allow room for the leaves to expand while steeping. Tip: Whole tea leaves have so much flavor they can be steeped twice, so while they're more expensive, you'll get more tea in the long run.

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Storage Matters

Store tea in a sealed container in a dark, cool spot. Though tea leaves are dried, they contain aromatics that will evaporate if exposed to air. Ceramic, tin or plastic canisters all work. If you use mason jars, make sure to keep them out of the light. Since tea leaves are prone to absorbing aromas and flavors, stow them in a cabinet separate from your coffee, herbs and spices.

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Start With Fresh, Cold (and Ideally Filtered) Water

Water that's hard or sulfuric will taint the flavor, and warm water often has a metallic taste since it contains trace minerals from the water heater and pipes it travels through.

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