5 Incredible Tea Hacks (You Need to Try)
Everything from squeezing more life from your loose leaf tea, to decaffeinating tea yourself - these 5 incredible tea hacks are easy to do and will definitely come in handy. Our favorite is the "Kill Brew" trick, so be sure to read until the end to see (and taste it) for yourself.
For those sensitive to caffeine, decaffeinating is a well known solution to the problem of drinking tea, as all tea has natural caffeine as part of the package deal. Luckily, your local grocery store probably offers decaf tea as an option. Or, what I mean to say is unfortunately.
Commercial decaf tea is made from low quality tea dust (literally, tea leaves ground in to dust) - that goes stale, over-brews, and loses any semblance to real loose leaf tea. Even worse, to actually produce decaf tea, producers steep the tea dust in methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. Sounds good right?
Caffeine in tea is a topic which deserves it's own article (which you can read here), but this hack is pretty simple: you can reduce the caffeine in your loose leaf by 50-70% using just one simple trick. All you need to do is steep your loose leaf tea in boiling hot water (100C) for 30 seconds and discard.
The caffeine diffuses quickly at this temperature, and removes more than half! This is great news considering we can reduce green tea to have less than 8mg of caffeine per cup, which is the same range as decaffeinated coffee.
Smoother Tea... using Egg shells?
If you're drinking a particularly astringent tea - like a fresh green tea - you can make your brew smoother and lighter by adding clean eggshells to your loose leaf, and brewing normally.
This isn't magic or myth - adding the eggshell imparts minerals that alter the brew. If you don't believe us, do a blind taste test (like we did) and you'll be just as surprised as we were.
All it takes is the shell from half an egg, crushed a bit.
Green Tea re-brewing Hack
When brewing in the Chinese style (basically less water & more tea) you can improve the flavor of your second, or third, infusion by leaving a bit of water behind rather than straining it all. Also, it might be helpful to watch this video on how to brew Green tea in the Chinese style (called Gong Fu Cha) before reading this point.
You might worry that you're over-steeping the leaves by leaving water behind rather than straining it all. Don't! When you strain, leave behind just enough to barely cover the leaves. The dropping temperature of such little water will mean it wont over steep.
Why does this improve the flavor? Because leaving a film of water covering the leaves prevent them from being exposed to oxygen and then continuing to oxidize. This trick is considered a necessity in China - but something you should always do if you are steeping your green tea multiple times.
Infinite Puer Trick
You might not have heard of Puer before - it's a unique category of fermented tea. In Chinese tea, it is the only category of tea that is fermented. If you haven't tasted it before, do yourself a favor and grab some.
While this isn't necessarily a "trick", it's something that many people don't realize. Like all high quality loose leaf tea, it can be steeped multiple times. Good puer, though, is special. It can be re-brewed 30+ times, usually far more than you could possibly ever want to drink.
So whatever you do, don't throw your Puer away after your 3rd brewing like you would for Green tea. This one can be 10x'd!
The "Kill Brew"
Speaking of multiple brewing, once the tea leaves start to lose their taste - and you're about to throw them away, stop yourself... You still have one brew left, but you're going to need to change your strategy to get it.
In order to extract every last drip of goodness inside those leaves, we'll need to do a final brewing at a higher temperature, for a longer duration. Just pour boiling-hot water (100C) over the leaves and let them steep as long as you possibly can before the water gets too cold to be enjoyed.
A few minutes will usually do it. You patience will be rewarded with a final, delicious brew that you might have missed out on. With that said, this really is the final brewing - which is why we call it the "Kill Brew."
Now it's Your Turn
After trying these 5 Tea hacks, it's your turn to give them a try. If we missed any tea hacks here that you love, be sure to let us know by posting them in the comment below, or by joining our Facebook Chinese Tea 101 Group. We'll see you in there!