At ShareASale, I’m known around the office as the tea afficionado. Fall is the best season for tea-lovers, since so many unique flavors and varieties are released for just this time of year.
However, unlike everyday coffee it’s important to brew teas according to their type and style for best enjoyment. Here are some basic tips before you try your first Autumn cup:
1. Rooibos or “red tea” is not truly from the tea plant, camellia sinensis. In fact, the word means “red bush” in South Africa and the “leaves” you brew are almost needle-like. Since it’s such a resilient plant you must brew it at a full rolling boil, 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Steep for at least 5 minutes for most rooibos blends, although in my opinion you can’t really steep too long! Rooibos only gets better with time and doesn’t burn like other true teas might, causing an undesirable astringent taste. Better yet, it’s caffeine free so you can drink it at any time – morning, afternoon, or night.
Rooibos makes a great neutral base for both sweet and nutty flavors. During the Fall, expect to see flavor blends like chestnut, pumpkin, and chai.
2. Black tea is a totally oxidized (but not “fermented” like Pu’erh tea) version of your everyday tea leaves. It’s probably the most popular tea of all with favorites like Earl Grey and English Breakfast. Did you know in the United Kingdom where black tea is most popular, the average citizen consumes about 4.2 pounds per year?
Like rooibos, common black tea must be steeped at full boil. However, it’s more sensitive to brewing times so an average recommendation is 2-4 minutes. Letting it steep longer could make it a bitter brew, overshadowing the intended flavors. Be careful drinking yours at night, as it can have almost as much caffeine as coffee depending on brew length and amount.
Lastly, it’s very common to add cream to black teas giving it that silky texture and body. Try yours with milk to see how you like it. For me, I prefer it straight-up without any extras.
For Fall, you might find black teas in stronger flavors like chocolate, mint, or caramel.
3. Green and white teas are more delicate, partially or unoxidized tea leaves and buds. The latter are picked at very young stages of the plant to maximize freshness. As you can imagine, they naturally require lower brewing temperatures and steeping lengths to create the perfect cup. Did you know that human studies have shown green and white tea contain the most antioxidants, and can lower blood pressure, fight high cholesterol, and protect against certain types of cancer?
I generally recommend 180 degree Fahrenheit water maximum when brewing either, for about 2-3 minutes. However, white and green teas can vary widely so it’s important to consult the retailer instructions if available. Some white teas I’ve seen have as low as 30 second brew times at 140 degrees Fahrenheit! Usually white and green tea have the lowest caffeine contents of any authentic tea.
White and green fall tea flavors are often fruity, sweet, and complex. I frequently see vanilla, spiced, and apple blends but there is no limit to retailer’s creativity when creating their own versions.
4. Finally, Herbal teas or “tisanes” are like rooibos, in that they aren’t from the tea plant at all. They contain alternatives like spices, herbs, flowers, and fruit. They’re normally caffeine-free and have their own unique properties. Chamomile is one common ingredient known for it’s soothing taste and calming effects. Hibiscus is another, created from the flower and has a tangy, even sour flavor.
Most herbals I’ve brewed require longer steeping times and full boil to bring out the flavor. Usually 4-7 minutes covers the spectrum of herbal tea brewing, but since so many ingredients could be found in herbal teas it can vary.
Fall herbal teas will contain a large range of flavors, but my personal favorite is pistachio and licorice root.
5. There are other brewed beverages out there like Pu’erh tea and Mate so feel free to explore the wide world of teas! If you’re a ShareASale affiliate, we have some amazing tea merchants for you to promote. Login, and check out them out here.