green-tea-alamy-largeYou’d think making tea was a simple business – millions of us (especially the Brits) do it daily.

However, we’ve all had that moment where we’ve overbrewed it, put in too much milk, or ended up with that disgusting film on the top.

So in commemoration of National Tea Day on April 21st, here’s a few tips from Sebastian Pole, medical herbalist and author of ‘Cleanse Nature and Restore With Herbal Tea’. The guidelines don’t just apply to herbal teas if you’re not into that – you should also heed the advice for other commonly-consumed teas, including the good old standard English Breakfast.

  • Filter your water – to avoid that aforementioned disgusting filmy layer!
  • Don’t overboil your water – this also contributes to that filmy effect, upsets the balance between the tannins, oils and amino acids in the tea, and can even burn the tea leaves. To prevent this, only boil the amount of water you actually need, and ideally use a kettle that can tell you the exact temperature the water has boiled to (the ideal temperature will vary for different teas, with guiding temperatures below).

Green teas: 80-85°Ccup-of-green-tea-with-leaves

Oolongs: 85-90°C

Black teas: 95°C

  • Use freshly drawn water – this will prevent buildup of salts and nitrates.
  • Infuse the tea for the correct length of time – check the package or consult your retailer.
  • Use a sturdy teapot to keep your tea warm. You can even buy teacup lids to stop valuable volatile oils from evaporating while you drink aromatic herb teas.

My top 5 teas

Redbush/rooibos – it’s like a classic black tea, but has an even smoother, rounder flavour, and best of all, it’s caffeine-free for those trying not to overdo it.

Lapsang Souchong – a beautiful, intense, smoky tea that wows anyone who smells it for the first time. (They usually then subsequently try it, and love it!)

6040_1_1_Marie Antoinette tea by Ladurée – the famous Parisian macaron company also has its own blend of tea named after Marie Antoinette. The rose petals and honey add a natural, delicate sweetness to the black teas used for the base.

Lemon, ginger and echinacea – Whittard used to do a brilliant combination of all three of these, but sadly have stopped doing so. Brilliant stuff for when you are feeling a bit peaky or just a bit sleepy. You could probably make your own lemon, ginger and echinacea blend using the raw materials, and lemon/ginger blends are still widely available.

English Breakfast – It may be common, but it’s also a classic. I’ve tried having my breakfast with Earl Grey or with green tea (both teas I enjoy also), but it just doesn’t work for me. Strong, reliable, and an excellent foil to whatever hangover cure or cookies you happen to be consuming at the time.