If you’re new to drinking tea, it may take a little practice to get it exactly the way you prefer. The most important aspect of a good brew is the steeping step. Although steeping isn’t difficult, there are some things you need to know to achieve a perfect cup of tea.
Do You Cover Tea When Steeping?
If you asked several tea drinkers “do you cover tea when steeping?”, you’d probably get mixed answers. This is because a lot of people drink different kinds of tea and some teas have different steeping requirements. People also have different preferences for the way they like their tea.
Covering your tea while it steeps is very important for herbal teas because of the essential oils it contains. For all other teas, covering your teapot or cup helps maintain the hot temperature while steeping.
If you are someone who likes to drink green tea, then it’s best not to cover your cup. Because green tea leaves are sensitive to hot temperatures, it gets bitter much quicker than other types of tea.
If you cover your green tea while it steeps, you trap the steam, allowing your cup or teapot to stay very hot. Depending on how long you steep for, you’re allowing more tannins to absorb in your tea. Tannins are a natural substance in tea that gives it a bitter taste. This is why for green tea, you shouldn’t cover while steeping.
Why Should I Cover my Tea When Steeping?
As mentioned above, covering your tea while it steeps can help cook your herbal teas. It can also keep herbal and all other teas from losing their warm temperatures.
Some people often use Herbal teas as medicine, so you don’t want to risk letting out some of the volatile essential oils. Volatile oils are oils that change or evaporate due to other elements such as water and heat. These oils are what gives the tea its special healing effects.
When you let your herbal tea steep without a cover, you allow the essential oils to escape from your vessel through the steam. The steam allows the herbs to release some of its healing oils. Without a cover, you are basically brewing hot flavored water.
Black, Oolong and White Tea
Black, Oolong and white tea come from the Camellia Sinensis plant and many consider them as real tea. Unlike herbal tea, these types of tea are sensitive to hotter water temperatures and contain tannins as well as caffeine.
You shouldn’t steep these types of teas for too long and you should heat the water to a certain temperature. Even though they are more sensitive to hot water, covering them while they steep is still a good idea. When you cover your teapot or cup, you not only get a quicker steep, you also get a hotter cup of tea once it’s ready.
If you’re someone who leaves their tea bag or leaves in while you drink it, then a cover isn’t necessary. You will most likely be drinking and steeping at the same time so your tea won’t have time to get cold.
Although this may seem convenient to some people, leaving your tea bag or leaves in while you drink your tea will release more tannins and caffeine. This will make your tea stronger and give it a bitter taste. That’s why it’s best to steep for a few minutes with a cover and enjoy your warm cup of tea.
What is The Best Way to Cover Your Tea While Steeping?
A teapot is the easiest way to steep your tea because it comes with a lid that perfectly covers the opening. The lid on a teapot locks in the steam so that the tea can steep quickly and stay hot during the process.
Steeping your tea in a cup can be a bit unconventional for you because most cups or mugs don’t come with tops. Some things you can use to cover your teacup or mug with are:
- A small ceramic plate. Glass plates might not be a good idea depending on how fragile they are. There’s a chance the hot steam could break the glass plate.
- A teapot or kettle lid. If you have a random lid for either teapot or kettle, you can place it on top of your cup. This works only if the lid is bigger than your cup.
- A tea mug cover. You can purchase a cover specially for steeping. There are many different designs and some even come with a tea infuser attached.
- Tea mug with lid included. Also available are tea mugs with removable lids. These are pretty much redesigned teapots. Some even come with an infuser.
Covering your tea while it steeps is overall beneficial. You get a better tea experience as well as a quicker brew. We hope by reading this article, you’re able to understand why you should, in fact, cover your tea while it steeps.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.