How to brew and steep the perfect coffee and tea

June 25, 2015

There's real skill involved in making a fantastic cup of coffee or tea, and the tips listed below will help you develop these time-honoured talents.

How to brew and steep the perfect coffee and tea

Whether you're searching for a hot drink on a cold day or a cold drink on a hot day, making the perfect cup of coffee or tea any way you (or your guests!) like it is an invaluable skill. Insider tip: On a scorching hot day, a hot drink can actually cool you down; or you can enjoy the refreshing chill of a well-made iced tea.

Coffee beans

  • The amount of coffee you need will depend on personal taste, water quality and the type of coffee maker you're using. Generally, when using a drip coffee maker, count on about 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of coffee per 250 millilitres (one cup) water. With hard water that contains lime, use more coffee.
  • Store coffee beans in a dry, cool, dark location, and keep them in a tightly-closed container — otherwise they'll go stale.
  • Store vacuum-packed coffee for several months if unopened; frozen coffee will last up to a year.
  • Ground coffee loses its flavour quickly and should be used within six months.
  • Use a coffee grinder or spice mill to make freshly-ground coffee, and brew a fragrant and satisfying cup of joe.

TIP: In times of crisis, when coffee was too expensive or simply unavailable, people often drank substitutes made from malt or chicory roots, or used them to stretch out their real coffee. When people turn to such substitutes now, it's usually for health reasons. Coffee made from chickory or malt is more easily digested, caffeine-free and contains fewer tooth-staining tannins than coffee beans.

For hot days

  • For iced tea, brew 15 to 20 millilitres (three to four teaspoons) tea leaves in one litre/quart of water and let steep for three minutes.
  • Stir in the juice from 1 1/2 lemons, sweeten to taste, then shock it by pouring it over about 25 ice cubes. The tea cools quickly and doesn't become bitter.
  • Flavour it according to taste with apple juice, fruit nectar, citrus fruits or mint leaves.


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