The basic rules for preparing a good cup of tea are all you need to know in order to know how to prepare elderberry tea.
There is a lot of tea-brewing advice out there, but if you pick through it, you’ll see that some accepted “best of” tips start to emerge. You’ll also see that you do get variation depending on the type of tea you are intending to brew.
Basically, there is one set of “rules” for black teas and teas made from actual tea leaves; there is a slightly different preferred tips for herbal teas. For the most part on this site, we consider elderflower and elderberry herbal teas, though you will find some recipes mixed with regular black tea for taste and energy (read, caffeine), and so some bits of that advice mixes in here, too.
Just want to know the best way to serve elderberry tea? Skip down for some serving and sweetening suggestions.
How to prepare a good cup of elderberry tea
No matter what you are brewing, tea leaves, tea bags, elderflower, elderberry, or herbal teas, the one thing all the experts agree on is this: start with good water:
The right equipment makes brewing good tea easier, too:
Sometimes more is better, and sometimes longer is:
Alternatively, can use the same serving of tea mixture twice or even up to three times to get all that the tea has to offer out of it. Waste less, want less. This is actually recommended by loose-leaf tea “experts,” including Bon Apetit. Subsequent brewing of the same teas give the flavors and compounds additional opportunities to release. There are some styles of tea served in some cultures that do not even drink the first and second steepings of the tea (though we don’t really recommend this level of waste for your delicious homemade elderberry teas, we do encourage you to get all they have to give by using the same tea mixture more than once in a setting!)
In fact, when it comes to herbal teas, and this is equally important for elderberry and elderflower teas, the less is more approach is better for some very real reasons. Not only will using less tea mixture and letting it steep longer (and/or reusing the same tea) help to release the flavor, but it also may release more of the elderberry’s benefits. The therapeutic benefits that elderberry have to offer are more efficiently released when elderberry is “cooked” for at least 20 minutes. As with any tea, elderberry tea will also get stronger in flavor the longer it is steeped. Therefore, you get a lot more bang for your buck both financially and in terms of health, nutrition, and immune support if you use a smaller amount of your tea mixture and let it steep in the nearly-boiling water for a longer period of time.
Finally, you may want to consider these alternate preparation instructions expressly for elderberry teas which may net more nutritional and nutraceutical benefits:
These instructions will work best for teas based heavily in dried elderberries as a way to enhance the nutraceutical benefits of your elderberry tea by releasing favorable compounds through the prolonged boiling and simmering process. It is not recommended for elderberry teas with black tea or tea leaves in the mix (which will break down and turn bitter). Elderflower tea will lose its floral, fruity aromas if brewed by this method, contributing to its taste experience.
Aside from sweetening, you’ll enjoy your elderberry tea served hot, cooled to safe consumption temperature. Alternatively, in warmer months, a double-brewed strength of any elder herbal tea, sweetened and then cooled and served as iced tea, will be a welcome summer treat (that still gives great support to the immune system!).
At the end of the day, though there are many suggestions and rules to help enhance your tea-drinking experience, you should enjoy your tea the way that you like it best; sweet or unsweetened, brewed strong and bold of lightly brewed and delicate, the best tea is the way you like it best. Personalize it.
And enjoy! It is, after all, your cup of tea!