Making the perfect cup of tea in the office

Making the perfect cup of tea in the office

You know how it is among caffeine imbibers, the coffee drinkers get all the love. They get the fancy coffee maker, they get the single-serve cups, and they get flavored roasts like French Mocha Donut Sumatra Supremo. When someone brings in pastries it’s always accompanied with, you guessed it, coffee. But that’s okay! You can help yourself to that stale box of tea hiding in the back of the office kitchen cupboard that’s been here longer than Mark in accounting.

Wait, didn’t Mark retire?

Don’t despair tea drinkers; you can have great tea at work. It’s high time we carve out some space on the office kitchen counter too! Throw that old box of tea away, because creating the perfect cuppa at the office is easy with the right tools.

Follow these suggestions to make great tea at work.

  1. Have the equipment for the perfect cup of tea

    The most important thing you’ll need for great tea is an electric kettle and a few other items.

    Electric tea kettle

    Some considerations when choosing an electric kettle are features, budget, and size. The most important feature you’ll want is an automatic shut-off which turns the kettle off once the water has boiled.

    The Cuisinart® PerfecTemp™ Cordless Electric Kettle is a primo option with six different preset temperature settings, an auto shut-off, and a handy keep warm feature.

    If you have a smaller budget try out this Mega Chef Glass/Stainless Steel Electric Tea Kettle. It’s inexpensive and still has some excellent features like auto shut-off and an internal LED that lights blue when the kettle is on.

    Maybe you’re the only tea drinker in the office, and you need something small and simple. This little Brentwood® 1.2 Litre Cordless Stainless Steel Electric Tea Kettle holds 5 cups, enough for a few cups of tea, and it’s compact enough to keep at your desk.

    Tea infuser

    For loose-leaf tea, you’ll need a tea infuser like the Honey Can Do Stainless Tea Wand™ which doubles as a tea scoop.

    Teaspoon

    A teaspoon is always helpful to accurately measure loose tea.

    Milk and honey

    Add-ins like milk, sugar, honey, or lemon are useful to have on hand too.

  2. Know the difference between loose-leaf tea vs. teabags

    For the best flavor, loose-leaf tea is always the way to go. Bagged tea is made up of smaller, broken tea leaves called fannings. Basically, the leftovers from higher-grade tea. With broken pieces more of the oils inherent in the leaves evaporates leading to less flavorful and sometimes more bitter tea than loose-leaf. When you brew a loose-leaf tea, the leaves have more room to unfurl in the water releasing more flavor in the process. You can also resteep loose-leaf tea several times, getting a different flavor profile with each new cup. However, there are still many great bagged teas out there. And as it’s less messy than loose-leaf tea, it’s a great choice for the office.

  3. Know your tea types and how to prepare them

    Many people think black, white, and green teas come from different plants. Nope. It’s all the Camellia Sinensis plant. The difference is in how the leaves are processed. And get this, herbal teas aren’t even tea at all.

    Herbal tea

    Herbal teas are known as tisanes. They are made of fragrant herbs, spices, and fruit, and contain no tea leaves. Most herbal teas are naturally caffeine free and are a great way to relax or refresh without the added buzz. They should be made with boiling water and steeped for 4-5 minutes. Give Tazo Decaf Passion Tea Bags a try.

    White tea

    With white teas, the leaf is picked when still a young bud and is often shaded from the sun. They are then steamed or fried to stop oxidation. They are light, floral, or fruity; unlike black teas. To preserve the delicate flavor this tea should be steeped between 170-185 degrees for 3-5 minutes. While white tea has less caffeine than most tea, it still contains between 15 to 20 mg of caffeine per serving, making it a pleasant afternoon choice. Try Numi® White Orange Spice Organic White Tea.

    Green tea

    Teaja® Simply Green Loose Leaf Tea is your classic green tea. Japanese or Chinese in origin, green tea is made by frying or steaming the leaves after they have been harvested, like white tea, but picked when mature. Green tea has around 30 mg of caffeine and is touted for numerous health benefits, making it a perfect start to your day. Many people don’t enjoy the taste of green tea, but often it’s because they’re brewing it too hot and using a teabag. Loose-leaf green tea is best. Another delicate tea, it needs to be brewed around 160-180 degrees for 3-5 minutes to preserve the subtle flavor.

    Black tea

    Finally, we get to the tea everyone knows–black tea. The key to black tea’s flavor is oxidation. Traditionally, tea leaves are rolled to encourage the bruising that leads to oxidation. It’s also common now to see CTC “crush, tear, curl,” which is exactly as it sounds. This speeds up oxidation and is how bagged tea is made. Oxidation is what gives black tea its characteristic briskness and dark brown color. It’s also the caffeine heavyweight with around 50 mg of caffeine per serving. A favorite is Teaja® Organic Earl Grey Cream Loose Leaf Tea. This is one of those teas that can be enjoyed morning or afternoon and is delicious with milk, honey, or lemon. Brew your black teas with boiling water and steep for 4-5 minutes. If you are using a teabag don’t squeeze the bag after you are done steeping as this just adds more of the tannins, and can make your tea bitter.

    Steeping times can change a tea’s flavor drastically, and those above are suggestions, so experiment a little!

Drink tea and be merry

Now that you’re the tea guru, you no longer have to tolerate mediocre tea just because you’re at work. With the right tools, you can brew yourself a splendid cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy.