Last Updated on 01/29/2022 by Desmond
Even though most people thought that the tea bag’s quality is far from loose leaf, it still attracts many fans. The tea bag is really so convenient, especially for beginners. They also nearly can’t taste the difference between the tea bag and the loose leaf.
So, is there any way to improve the flavor experience of the tea bags?
Let’s read the following tea bag steeping tips, then maybe you can also brew up a perfect cup.
First, Pick a Better Tea Bag
To brew a perfect cup with a tea bag, first of all, you need to pick an ideal tea bag. It doesn’t mean asking you to buy those quite expensive brands, although most of the time, a higher price means better quality. Actually, if you understand some characteristics of tea bags, it will be a great help in your purchasing.
The Integrity of Leaves
Not long before, almost all tea bags were still made from the broken leaves called “fannings” and “dust.” Leaves were cut tiny, tannin and caffeine were released much faster, making the tea darker, tasting more bitter and astringency. This is the primary reason that people generally think tea bags’ quality is not as good as loose leaf.
Now more and more tea brands have started to produce tea bags with the whole leaf, which has a flavor vastly close to the loose leaf. When you buy tea bag products, you can know it is made from whole leaf or broken leaf from the package or the specification page.
Green tea and Oolong easily change their flavor due to oxidation, so the whole leaf is no doubt better than the broken ones. But there is not much impact on black tea because it has already under full-fermented; the broken black tea may even bring a better experience than the whole leaf.
Related Reading: Loose Leaf Tea Vs. Tea Bags, Which One Is Really Better?
There are two primary materials for the pouches of the tea bag production in the current market now: Paper and Plastic.
Whether paper or plastic pouches, they hardly affect the tea flavor(some supertasters say they can feel it.) Generally speaking, the plastic bag is thicker than the paper one. Although it can better prevent the fannings from leaking out, it gives a flavor-blocking feeling to people.
Paper tea bag is often easy breaking by squeezing after soaking soft, leaves leak out and mess the cup up; the plastic pouch will be more sturdy. Besides, most plastic tea bags are pyramid-shaped; a larger room helps the whole leaves expand and release flavor better.
However, a 2019 study(here) showed that plastic tea bags might Release Billions of Microparticles and Nanoparticles into Tea; it may be a health risk. Besides, the recycling of plastic tea bags is also a problem for the environment.
The tea bag products’ package also has a crucial influence on the flavor. Loose leaf is a seasonal item, but tea bags are not; they will be placed on the shelf waiting for a sale, and it may be a long time. Once the tea bags don’t get proper packaging, their flavor may lose through the air or be changed due to oxidizing.
Of course, this is a rare situation; the problem comes after they are unwrapped. Some tea bags didn’t have an individual packing. After you pick one out, the left tea bags’ flavor will start losing. Typically, the quality brands will provide a paper or aluminum individual packaging pouch for every tea bag. They better guarantee the taste. Among them, the aluminum pouch is better than the paper one because it provides an extra dampness proofing feature.
7 Tea Bag Steeping FAQ
Making a cup of tea with a tea bag is simple; that’s why it is popular. But in the concrete operations, everyone got their own custom. In these easy steps, some fine adjustments may cause more or less on your experience.
Tea Bag’s Position
Do you put the tea bag in before filling the hot water in the cup or after?
In the case of putting the tea bag in before filling hot water, leaves can be heated adequately and release flavor faster. However, once you pour water slow or the temperature is low, you will see that tea ingredients settle to the bottom but not fill the whole cup.
And if to fill hot water first, it’s greatly possible that the tea bag will float on the water. You will see the tea ingredients release slowly, mix with water and diffuse the whole cup. But, the leaves in the pouch may be insufficiency heated and makes waste.
The best situation absolutely is to keep the tea bag just stay in the middle of the cup. Once the tea bag stays in the middle part, the leaves can be heated evenly, and the ingredients won’t settle to the bottom. The water mildly tumbles when you take the tea bag away and makes the ingredients diffuse more evenly.
For this purpose, you can twine the tea bag’s tag on the cup’s handle. Or to prepare a special cup designed for tea bag steeping(it is with a cute accessor that helps fix the tea bag at an ideal position.)
Proper Temperature and Time
To brew loose leaf tea has a high requirement to the water temperature and steeping time. I personally think brewing a tea bag is no need so complicated. After all, the tea bag was born for a more convenient tea drinking.
Thus, you can entirely follow the tips on the package to control the water temperature and steeping time. After knowing this tea bag type well, you can flexibly adjust the temperature and time to make your own taste.
Dunk, Take Away or Keep Steeping
Just as mentioned previously, everybody has his own tea bag steeping custom. Someone loves to keep dunking the pouch during steeping, someone will take it away once the time is up, and someone prefers to let the tea bag stay in the water.
Tea bag typically makes fewer brews than loose leaf, only 1-2 cups for each pouch. Thus, taking the tea bag away after making up the first brew won’t seem wasted. Or you can also prepare a large-capacity cup or teapot.
Personally, I get used to keeping the tea bag stay steeping in the cup, but not for a long time. After finishing a half, I will refill the hot water to dilute the tea concentration, try to extract every drop of the flavor of the pouch. Then the tea bag stays in the cup till I finish drinking. Actually, it’s not a good habit, but I just like strong tea.
To make a cup(or a pot) of tea typically needs 1-3 minutes; it’s based on the tea type and water temperature. Some impatient people thought that keeping dunking the pouch when steeping could release the flavor faster and save time. That does make sense and won’t have any side effects on the taste. However, it seems rude behavior, and it shows no respect, especially when you do this in front of other people.
Can I Squeeze The Tea Bag?
Squeezing the tea bag with a spoon or a tong indeed can get a little more juice and strengthen the tea flavor (most of the time, it will become more bitter.) But to do it like this is easy to break the pouch, make the fannings leak out, and mess up the cup. So it seems not necessary.
Can I Steep the Tea Bag In Hot Milk Directly?
Something fantastic chemistry reaction will come after black tea and milk mix together, improving the flavor considerably. Many people love milk tea, somebody must even think (or try) is it possible to steep the black tea bag in the hot milk directly to get a more robust taste?
I used to do this experiment before, and it was quite a failure: the tea bag’s flavor even could not be extracted smoothly. Then I consulted some related studies, and knew that the milk molecular is bigger, plus the obstruct of the pouch, so the tea bag’s flavor getting hard to release and mix with the milk.
If you really love the strong-taste milk tea, you can try to prepare a cup of strong black tea with just a little water, then add lots of milk in.
Related Reading: How To Make Milk Tea Taste Excellent? Milk In First Or Tea In First?
Should I Cover The Cup While Steeping?
This question also has a flexible answer.
We always cover the lid when brewing loose leaf tea with a teapot. And when we wait for the next brew, we will decide to cover it or not according to the tea type. The slight-fermented teas like green tea and white tea, we typically keep the teapot open to prevent the leaves overcooked; and to Oolong and Pu-erh, we cover it to prevent the fragrance from losing.
And when preparing tea bags, covering the lids or not won’t have any influence. Because the leaves are less in the pouch and hard to make much fragrance. The more important is, one tea bag is usually just for 1-2 brews. Of course, if you got a cup with a lid, cover it when steeping, and you can still feel some fragrance-shooting after opening it.
Can I Steep A Tea Bag In Cold Water?
You can absolutely do this! This charming drink has a name called COLD-BREWED TEA.