Trisha Lepper works on the PR and Communications team at Etsy Canada. In her spare time, she scours flea markets for antique finds.
When it comes to tea time, there are a few standbys I love to keep close at hand: malty English Breakfast, bergamot-tinged Earl Gray, and classic mint. But lately I’ve been hearing about some new-to me blends that I can’t wait to try, like grassy green matchas, smokey mates, and birthday cake-flavored rooibos (yes, birthday cake!).
Needless to say, there is a whole universe of tea out there to smell, taste, and brew — but where to start, and how to be sure you’re getting the most out of your mug? That’s what we’re exploring today with Kim Wiseman, head of customer engagement at DAVIDsTEA, an innovative tea company based out of Montreal that offers 150 types of loose leaf tea and one of the largest organic tea selections in North America. DAVIDs takes great care in selecting and sourcing their teas, and their appreciation for small batch, artisanal blends is reflected in their thoughtful collection of tea accessories. Through a partnership with Etsy Wholesale, their collection now includes exclusive mugs by Etsy ceramics artists A+J, Akai Ceramic Studio and Calyer Ceramics.
Scroll on for the full list of tea tips from Kim!
A good cup of tea is all about the infuser. Before you consider water temperature or steeping time, the first step is finding a great infuser. Seriously: size matters! For the best possible cup of tea, choose an infuser that’s big enough to let the tea leaves unfurl – the more space your tea has, the more flavorful your cup will be.
When it comes to water temperature and steeping times, different types of tea react differently. For example, white and green teas are best with cooler water and shorter steeping times. A lot of people think they don’t like green tea, but they’ve probably just burned the delicate leaves and maybe oversteeped it. If you want a delicious cup of green tea, try 175 degree (F) water and a 2-minute steep. It should taste sweet and vegetal – not bitter. Black tea, on the other hand, can handle a hotter temperature and slightly longer steeping time. If you’re drinking your black tea with milk and sugar, you’ve got to brew it nice and strong so the tea flavor shines through. Once you get a handle on the basics, you can start experimenting to find out what you like best, whether it’s mixing together a custom blend or whipping up a tea latte.
The big difference between loose tea and tea bags is the size of the leaves and other ingredients. Sometimes tea bags use ground-up tea leaves, so you may lose some flavor of the leaf as the oil dries out. By keeping the leaves whole, all the flavor is preserved in your cup. If you prefer the convenience of a tea bag, look for a sachet with whole leaf tea and larger ingredients inside – that’s the good stuff. Of course, our favorite thing about loose leaf tea is the theater – the ritual. The whole experience is so comforting and invigorating before you even take a sip!
And speaking of rituals: a tea ritual isn’t just about honoring tradition – it’s about creating special moments. Traditionally, tea is a social drink, and we love that aspect, but we’ve found that tea really resonates with people who want a “me” moment. Creating your own tea ritual is such a beautiful thing: whether you’re taking a quick break at the office or brewing a cup before bed, it only takes a few minutes, but that time is totally devoted to doing something great for yourself. It’s almost magical that with some dried leaves, hot water, and a couple of minutes, you can make something so delicious, and so richly comforting. Wherever you are, a great cup of tea is cause for celebration – that first sip is a moment of pure happiness.
The big trend to look out for this year is definitely matcha. This powdered Japanese green tea is an all-natural powerhouse, and it’s also a major food and beverage trend – it’s like the new espresso! Matcha is easy to spot, as it has a beautiful bright green color, and unlike most tea, it’s a fine powder rather than tea leaves. People love matcha for its fresh, invigorating flavor, not to mention the energy boost and health benefits that come from drinking it. Since you’re technically consuming the entire tea leaf, you get even more benefits than a traditional steeped green tea – including every last drop of antioxidants and caffeine the tea leaf has to offer.
Editorial photos by Liana Carbone, tea blend images courtesy of DAVIDsTEA.