From buying it to slurping it: in this article, tea aficionados teach new recruits how to pick good tea, and to keep everything at a budget. After all, much of it involves knowing what you’re looking at and not just paying good money for popular tea labels.

Tippy Leaves. While you’re shopping for good tea, it’s best to look for tippy leaves. These are young leaves which still have a light brown or gold lining or speck on their surface. These are the tea leaves that have been picked from the top of the plant, opposed to bigger, older leaves which have been picked from the bottom. The younger leaves may be pricier and rarer, but they’re also better tasting.

Honing the taste. One’s taste for tea is acquired. Most people who taste tea for the first time find it too bland, especially if they prefer coffee. If you want to hone your skills in tasking and picking tea, we suggest you start off with the Earl Grey. Flavored teas (there’s quite a variety of them, from wild berry fusions to peppermint) are also good starting points.

Tea Drinking Etiquette. While you’re trying to discover your preferences for tea, you may also want to find out about the tea drinking etiquettes around the globe. These tend to vary, depending on the culture. In China, while picking out tea from dealers, you may want to loudly slurp for tea, not just because eating or drinking loudly shows your appreciation for it.

Some tea variants need oxygen so that their full flavor can be released. However, if you’re drinking at a tea house, slurping too loudly may be considered uncouth. Tea houses in England are especially stringent when it comes to the tea drinker’s behavior. Read up on how to sit properly, where to put your tea spoon while your drinking the beverage, etc.

Food Pairs. If you’re drinking tea for the mere pleasure of tasting it and you’re not so concerned about tea drinking in parties, then the art of pairing the right tea with the right food should excite you. As a rule, strong tasting infusions like Oohlong tea pair well with spicy or strong tasting dishes. On the other hand, mild infusions like the Japanese green tea complement the taste of seafood.

Locking in the freshness. Another challenge when it comes to drinking tea is keeping your stock of tea leaves fresh. They’re quite sensitive to moisture and temperature changes, which poses a problem for tea drinking travelers. Who would have thought that a simple plastic bag with a Ziplock will do the trick? Of course, you must also keep your tea leaves away from sunlight. Sunlight tends to make tea leaves fade, diminishing their flavors too.

Making the perfect brew. A common mistake that beginners make when they brew tea is that they always bring the water to a complete boil. This should only be done when you’re drinking black tea. For white green teas, though, the water should only be heated up to 180 degrees Farenheit. Otherwise, the teas’ full potentials won’t be reached.

Also, instead of dropping a tea bag into heated or boiling water, the water should be poured onto the tea bag instead. This distributes the heat much better, letting the tea leaves release their flavors.

Mixing it with food. Not only are tea (like wine) perfect partners to good food, they are also sometimes used to make good food. In Japan, tea plays a special role in their culture that the green tea flavor is infused into gums and ice cream. In European countries, on the other hand, the Earl Gray tea is a popular addition to mouse cakes, and even some soups.

Cooling your tea. Rather than make iced tea from powdered formulas, it’s still so much better to make these summer beverages from authentically brewed tea. The trick here is to come up with ways to make cold tea without watering down the solution.

You can use a ziplocked plastic bag to seal in the ice before submerging it into the hot tea. This way, when the ice melts, it won’t water down your tea drink. Another way for you to cool down your tea is to put hot tea onto a steel ice tray. Freeze these cubes while you let the rest of your tea cool down in the refrigerator.

Make this a day before the party. Once the tea ice cubes are frozen, add them to your already cold tea for an extra refreshing iced tea treat. You can add just a bit of sugar to taste. At least you won’t have to worry about preservatives and serving your guests something that tastes like it came out of the candy store. Squeeze a lemon into your iced cold black tea, or sprinkle mint leaves if you’re serving green tea.

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