Coffee and Tea: Past and Present

Very few foods have storied histories like tea and coffee. The first records of tea appear in texts from third century AD in China, and tea became common in Europe during the 16th century. The actual origins of coffee are a bit murkier, however, the cultivation and consumption of coffee goes back centuries, most likely to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau.

Coffee and tea also play a key role in the history of America. You’ve probably heard of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when American Revolutionaries boarded a tea ship from Great Britain and dumped all the tea into the harbor to protest tea taxes. It was one of our first acts of separation from the British Empire, and signaled the beginning of America becoming a coffee-drinking nation.

Coffee remains king in the United States, with Americans drinking 88.8 gallons of coffee per capita in 2016, compared to 34 gallons of tea per capita. However, tea is becoming more popular, with sales increasing significantly each year.

Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or tea devotee, here are some tips for making the best cup:

Coffee

To get the best cup of coffee, you have to start with the best beans. Buying fresh, whole beans is key. Coffee flavor peaks just days after it has been roasted, not weeks after sitting on a grocery store shelf. At Bulk Nation, we order our beans on Monday, they are roasted in Florida on Tuesday, and in our stores by Thursday. They are as fresh as beans can get.

To keep them fresh, make sure you store your beans in sealed containers. Grind your coffee immediately before brewing for maximum flavor. Coffee experts insist automatic drip coffee makers are not ideal, as the water doesn’t get hot enough. If possible, use a manual, pour-over coffee maker, and heat your water to at least 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Filtered water is best, and make sure you keep your coffee maker clean. Also, serve coffee immediately after brewing for the freshest flavor.

Tea

To get the freshest tea, buy loose-leaf tea instead of bagged. Like coffee, tea should also be stored in airtight containers. Filtered water is best for tea, and keeping your teapot squeaky clean will also deliver the best-tasting results. If you must use unfiltered tap water, let the water run for a second or two before filling your kettle.

Use water when it comes to a gentle boil. Steeping times vary based on the kind of tea — with lighter, more delicate teas like green tea, brew for a shorter period of time, while dark teas need to steep longer. Exactly how long you steep your tea is a matter of personal preference. After brewing, let tea cool slightly before drinking.

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