Drinking Tea is popular worldwide. For most of us, the day doesn’t begin without sipping our favourite cup of tea. However, according to a popular belief, tea is considered to cause acidity. While the truth is, most teas are mildly acidic. In fact, many herbal teas are considered healthy for those who suffer from acid reflux. Moreover, home brewed teas aren’t as acidic as fruit juice and other drinks that we consume daily.
Thus, before you label tea acidic for yourself, you need to be aware of what you’re doing wrong when it comes to your daily tea consumption. It is very important to understand how you brew your tea and store it. At the same time, it is vital to understand how to spot good quality tea.
How to Brew an Ideal Cup of Tea
Tea has been around for centuries, and over the years, the style of brewing tea has evolved. Every region has a different method of brewing, some very elaborate, while some very straightforward. To brew a good cup of tea, you require minimal materials like water, a kettle, a tea cup, sweeteners (honey, sugar or jaggery) and good quality tea leaves. The tea can be of any variety like black, green, oolong or white while adding milk is optional. Also, it is alright to skip over ingredients like lemon, sugar, and even flavours like spearmint, which may trigger an acid reflux.
To avoid making a cup of tea which causes acidity, here are a few simple instructions:-
- Boil the water in a kettle or pan.
- Turn off the heat and add tea leaves, then cover the vessel with a lid.
- Let the tea brew from 3-7 minutes, depending on the variety you’ve used.
- Add sweetener and milk, if required.
- Boil the tea once more in case you have added milk, to give it a better mouthfeel.
- Strain the tea into a clean cup.
- Enjoy your handcrafted cup of chai.
When making tea, it is very important to know that added agents like sugar, lemon or mint cause acidity. Using jaggery (Gud) as a sweetener is a healthier alternative for sugar, as jaggery is alkaline in nature. Using low fat or skim milk is also a better alternative for those who find it hard to digest full cream milk.
People who suffer from regular acid refluxes and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (or, GERD) should preferably consume herbal tea like Lavender, Chamomile or Green tea.
Storing Your Tea Correctly
How many times have you opened a new packet of tea and lazed off from putting the tea into a container?
How many times have you just tied the packet’s head with a rubber band and let it sit on the shelf?
Truth is, the shelf life of tea is fairly short. Green, white and yellow teas have a shelf life of maximum three months, if stored correctly. Whereas, black and oolong teas can be stored for up to three years in ideal conditions. Tea can be stored for longer durations and their taste and aromas can be maximized if they are protected from five variables: sunlight, heat, moisture/humidity, odors and air. Exposure to any of these variables raise the chances of your tea turning acidic even more.
If you own a variety of teas, then they should always be stored in their own containers. Mixing of containers can cause the aromas of teas to mix and make the teas flat. This, in turn will prompt you to use larger amounts of leaves in your brew, making your tea acidic.
There are a multitude of containers, easily available in the market that can be used to store tea. Some are specifically designed for tea storage, while some are general storage containers. The main criteria for tea containers is that they should be air tight and the material should not attract, absorb or give off aromas.
Ideal types of tea containers are:-
Glass: Glass containers are generally airtight. They are ideal for tea storage as long as they are kept in the dark, away from sunlight.
Ceramic: Though finding an air tight ceramic caddie can be rare and expensive, it is a beautiful medium to store and showcase your tea.
Metal: Metal or tin lined containers are easily available. In fact, there is growing market of beautifully decorated metal tins with quirky designs. These containers are air tight and an attractive choice for tea storage.
Plastic: Though plastic is a cheaper and ever-present choice for a container, it can potentially degrade the quality of your tea. Therefore, storing tea in it for a long duration is not the best solution.
Vacuum sealed tea caddies: You can find vacuum sealed tea caddies that pump out the oxygen from the container and seal the tea leaves within the container after every use. Though they are optimal for storage of tea, they are also very expensive.
It’s not just about the way you store your tea, but how you treat it, matters. It is always a better option to buy tea in smaller quantities, so that they do not remain open for too long. Exposure to the polluted environment for longer durations can make tea acidic.
Spotting Good Quality Tea
Whether you’re new to tea or have been sipping on it for years, it’s important to be able to identify high-quality loose leaf tea. The tea market is so vast and growing that presence of adulterated tea product is a common issue faced by the buyers.
Roughly, there are two kinds of tea processing methods: CTC (Cut, Tear, and Curl) and Orthodox. In the CTC method, a machine cuts, tears and curls the tea leaves into small pellets. CTC processing is suitable for teabags which delivers a strong flavoured tea, often at the expense of the natural aroma. The Orthodox (or “long leaf”) method follows tea leaves cautiously being handled to ensure minimal breakage. Orthodox teas are rolled, preserving the leaves’ aromatic compounds and retaining the complex flavors.
While buying tea, simply relying on four of your senses can help you identify a good quality tea.
- Sight: When buying leafy green teas, it is better to look for unbroken leaves. Broken tea leaves are a sign of machine harvest which can leave teas tasting bitter. In case of Black teas, if you enjoy them, the breakage of tea leaves is deliberate to achieve a certain flavour. In terms of grain particles, larger particles denote a higher quality of tea. Buyers should keep their eyes out for ‘Fannings’. Fannings are tinnier particles that are more like residue of larger particles found in low grade teas.
- Smell: High quality teas have a distinct aroma in them. High grade green tea smells light, grassy, fresh and soothing. Good quality black tea has an earthy floral or sweet smell. Fragrant teas like Jasmine, Chamomile or Rose have a scent that lingers on for a while. Upon deep inhalation, if the aroma is scarce, it is evidence that the tea is low quality.
- Touch: When the tea comes in contact with your skin, it is important to check its texture. With full bodied green teas, the texture of the leaves should be smooth and sturdy. With wet tea leaves, the texture should be tender. If the tea feels feathery on hold then it means that the leaves have been over dried and will taste bitter. If the tea crumbles upon touch, then it is a sign of bad quality product.
- Colour: High quality teas generally have brighter colour. A well brewed tea will produce a vibrant and deep colour. While ideal green teas have colours that are lighter, clearer and slightly on the yellow side. Black teas produce a deep red colour. Tea that produces pastle or faded colour is generally of low quality.
- Taste: It is a known fact that a good quality tea should taste fresh, awakening your senses instantly. Green teas shouldn’t be too sharp or bitter, but should slip down your throat smoothly. Black tea should be wholesome and full bodied. Any good tea should leave a lingering after taste in your mouth. If the taste is stale and there is no after taste, chances are you need to change your tea.
Tea is undeniably an integral part of our daily lives. As daily consumers, it is only natural to want to understand all the pros and cons of drinking tea. It is true that tea can become highly acidic if it isn’t prepared properly or stored correctly. Though they are naturally on the acidic side of the pH scale, diluting your infusion with water or milk can definitely bring the level of acidity down.
Ultimately, the perception that all tea causes acidity because of the mistakes that we make is almost like dispelling all of its amazing health benefits.