Want To Get Into Drinking Tea This Fall? Here Is Your Beginner’s Guide
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Elizabeth Miller. Find them on Instagram at @Lizzy_7979. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at email@example.com.
Ever since I was young I loved the idea of a good tea party. My sister and I shared this little vintage Winnie the Pooh tea set and we’d get all of our dolls to play. But some of my favorite memories were when my great aunt, a former pastry chef, would host proper tea parties for the ladies in our family. She would bake scones and make all sorts of tea sandwiches, oh, it was such a treat! My tea journey started young, and I have had invaluable support from my great aunt and my mom, especially when it came to their tea recommendations for a new tea drinker. As I grew older, I wanted to share my love of tea with my friends. While I was an advanced beginner, I had difficulty getting my novice friends to enjoy tea because it can be an acquired taste. Now, a little over ten years since I started drinking tea, my friends have been asking for my suggestions because they want to start drinking tea regularly. If you’re looking to get into tea but don’t know where to start, here is a bit about my journey, the basics of tea, and my recommendations for tea for beginners.
When I took my first sip of tea, I didn’t know what to expect. I was a kid, and honestly, I didn’t like it at first. The beauty of tea is that there are so many different types and flavors. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find one you like.
Most of the first teas I liked were herbal teas. I liked, and still do like, fruity teas because they tasted similar to my favorite juices and fruits I ate regularly, and introduced me to the taste of teas without overwhelming my young taste buds. These teas were a great stepping stone for getting me used to that distinct tea taste and the way it feels.
I spent a lot of time exploring herbal teas because of this. Chamomile and hibiscus teas became some of my favorites. Eventually, I started stepping into fruity black teas.
When I felt used to and confidently liked the taste of tea, my mom introduced me to breakfast teas. My favorite quickly became Twinning’s English Breakfast tea. My mom’s is Barry’s Irish Breakfast tea.
Since my full dive into black tea, I’ve explored other types of tea. I’ve realized I like some white teas and some rooibos teas, but I generally don’t like green teas. Currently, my favorite teas are strawberry black tea and peppermint bark tea from one of my local tea shops.
Types of Tea
There are a bunch of different types of tea, and there are a few ways you can buy and brew tea. Some teas come prepackaged in tea bags, others come loose and some come as a compressed brick or puck. Tea is steeped in hot water. If the tea is loose, you can either put it directly in the hot water and use a strainer while serving it, or put it in a mesh steeper or unfilled tea bags to contain it. Different types of tea also brew better at different temperatures for different times. Brewing at too hot of a temperature can make tea taste bitter. Here’s a short list to make sure you brew optimally, brew times can be a little longer if you want the tea to be stronger:
- Herbal: 212°F, 5 minutes
- Black: 205°F, 3 minutes
- White: 175°F, 4 minutes
- Green: 165°F, 3 minutes
- Oolong: 190°F, 3 minutes
For anyone who has never had tea before, I recommend you start with teas that I started with, herbal fruit teas. Black teas and green teas are very common in coffee shops, so chances are you may have tried either of these before too. If you’re looking to branch out, here are some flavor profiles for the general types:
- Herbal: depends heavily on what is in the tea (lavender, chamomile, hibiscus, fruit, etc.), can be earthy, sweet, floral, and fruity
- Black: generally a sharper and bolder tea, leans on the bitter side but sweetens well, can be earthy and spiced, and can incorporate other flavor profiles if mixed with herbal elements
- White: lightly sweet, smooth, light flavoring, floral, pretty much the opposite of black tea
- Green: grassy, a little sweet, a little citrusy sometimes, not as light as white tea but on the lighter side, vegetal
- Oolong: sweet, fruity and floral, nutty, thick and full feeling
If your tea tastes too bitter, you can add honey, sugar or your preferred sweetener. Some people also sometimes add milk or cream, especially in black teas. For fruity teas, a slice of lemon can also be nice.
Tea sampler packs are great for branching out. You get a little bit of a bunch of flavors rather than committing to a large quantity of tea. If you’re feeling bold, there are also mystery tea samplers and some mystery “date with a book” boxes that come with tea. Small businesses that make custom tea blends have some fun flavors too, inspired by books, movies, music and more!
Ready for a cup of tea? Tell us about your favorite tea in the comments below!