There is perhaps no drink in the world people are more particular about than black tea.
For those who routinely start their day with an English breakfast or earl grey tea, a badly brewed and prepared cup of tea is almost a personal offense.
Most serious tea buffs will be able to tell from the color of their tea whether it has been made well.
The trouble is, what constitutes a “good” cup of tea is a matter of personal preference. If you are drinking black tea but aren’t enamored with its taste, there are several things you can do to make it taste better.
You might try following the advice for the best tea-making practices to a t.
Alternatively, you might consider adding in other things, such as fruit essences or alternative sweeteners, to give your black tea additional flavor or sweetness.
How to make black tea taste better
Brew your black tea correctly! Bring cold water to a boil and pour it over your tea leaves. Let it steep for between three and five minutes. To enhance the tea’s flavor, you can add in fruit juice, infuse it with dry fruit or flowers, or add in spices.
How to brew the perfect cup of black tea
The first step to brewing a great black tea, is to fill your kettle with cold water. This is important because water that has been sitting around in pipes for too long, as warm water has, will not contain enough oxygen to encourage proper infusion.
Black tea requires the correct oxidation to provide its drinker with the optimum taste and health benefits.
Add your loose-leaf tea or black tea bags into your mug or teapot. Pour your freshly boiled water over the tea leaves.
Do not add the water in first! For the tea to properly infuse, the hot water must be poured over the leaves.
Allow the tea to brew until it has reached the optimal color, which should be between amber and dark brown, depending on how strong you like your tea.
Darjeeling should brew for about three minutes, Earl Grey should brew for about five, and English breakfast should brew for about four minutes.
Remove your teabag or strain out your loose-leaf tea.
Add in a pour of milk. Stir in your sweetener of choice.
What to add to black tea for better taste
In many continental European countries, English breakfast tea is served with a sliver of lemon.
Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into your black brew to give it a citrus-y tang. Sweeten your cup with a spoonful of honey to bring out the natural sweetness of the lemon.
Honey itself is an excellent ingredient to add to a black tea. With or without milk, the silky, full-bodied sweetness of honey brings out the rich and robust flavors of English breakfast tea.
Why not add an autumnal apple flavor to your milky black tea by adding in a few bits of dried apple and a cinnamon stick while it is steeping?
A teaspoon of honey or maple syrup would round off your apple cinnamon tea perfectly. You can even add a little pour of fresh apple juice into your tea to enhance the flavor even more.
If apple isn’t really your thing, consider adding dried berries to a milk-free black brew. The sweetness of dried strawberry, for example, beautifully complements the fruity tones of aromatic Indian Nilgiri black tea.
You could also go for more of a tropical vibe and add in some dried mango bits to your morning brew. Keep a mango-infused black tea milk free. Add in a squeeze of lemon and a small spoonful of sugar.
Add dried jasmine, rose, lavender, or chrysanthemum into your loose-leaf black tea to give it an enhanced flavor.
Keep your jasmine and chrysanthemum-infused black teas milk-free, but don’t be afraid to add milk to your rose and lavender-infused black brews.
With a small teaspoon of honey, a milky lavender English breakfast tea might be just the added comforting flavor kick you need to make black tea a staple in your kitchen cupboard.
You can make an Indian-inspired chai by adding spices, milk, and a sweetener. The spice combinations used to make masala chai in India vary from region to region.
However, a general recipe you can follow is combine cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, and cloves.
For best results, crush the cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and cloves together using a mortar and pestle. This will expose the insides of the spices to the hot water and create a stronger flavor.
Slice the fresh ginger and add it into a pan of water. Mix in your crushed spices and sweetener of choice. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Turn off the heat and add in your Assam or Darjeeling tea bags. Allow the bags to steep for five minutes. Strain your tea mixture.
Heat your milk or milk alternative of choice in a saucepan until it is hot, then add it in to your spiced black tea. Voila, now you have chai!
If you feel like a treat, try using cream instead of milk in your black tea. The sweet, mellow flavors of cream pair especially well with a Sri Lankan Ceylon tea.
Ceylon’s strong flavor, which has notes of chocolate and caramel is balanced out by the smooth, richness of full-dairy cream.
Add a teaspoon of maple syrup to give your creamy tea an autumnal feel.
Coconut milk is a great ingredient to mix with black tea. It’s natural nutty, sweet taste complements the rich, chocolatey notes of Ceylon tea found in English breakfast.
If you are feeling particularly indulgent, you can use coconut cream instead of coconut milk. Coconut cream is richer and heavier, and you should only need to use one or two teaspoons of it.
Add in a spoon of sugar or honey for a delicious, bounty-like morning brew.