Are you a tea AND coffee person? No problem! Though there may be a great divide between tea and coffee drinkers normally, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy both, and with the same machine no less!
If you’ve just had a kettle break on you or don’t want to purchase a second appliance for your hot drink needs, the possibility of making tea in your coffee machine has surely entered your mind.
Let’s learn more about how you can make tea with a coffee machine, and whether or not it’s really a good idea.
How To Brew Tea Using a Coffee Machine
You have two options when brewing tea using a coffee machine. First, you can run a hot water-only function on most espresso and drip coffee makers that will give you hot water for your tea, similar to how you’d use a kettle to make tea normally.
Second, you can actually put the tea directly in the coffee maker where your coffee grounds would normally go and have tea be released into your mug or carafe instead of coffee.
Should You Put Tea in a Coffee Maker?
There are a few things to consider before using your coffee maker for your next cup of tea. While it is certainly possible to do so, there are a few concerns about using these machines for something other than their intended use.
First of all, preparing to make tea in a coffee maker requires an extensive cleaning job before your tea goes anywhere near the coffee machine.
You’ll need to deep clean the entire machine, including all of the inner workings, before you can make tea.
Since weeks or months of daily coffee residue has built up inside the machine, you’ll have to flush the system with a vinegar and water solution or proper descaling solution to clean out the coffee oil and leftovers inside the machine.
Cleaning the removable parts like the carafe and brewing basket will also be necessary.
Then, you’ll need to repeat the process all over again before you can go back to a cup of coffee. It’s safe to say you will need to be pretty dedicated before you make tea in a coffee machine.
The second issue with making tea in a coffee maker is the lack of temperature control.
These machines usually heat the water to just under the boiling point, which might be good for black tea and most herbal teas but will burn oolong tea and green/white teas which need to be made with water 10-15 degrees or 10-20 degrees below boiling respectively.
Water that is too hot for the type of tea you are making results in a bitter cup of tea that is either undrinkable or requires more sugar to be enjoyable – either way, not ideal!
Finally, most, if not all, loose-leaf teas need to be steeped before drinking.
When you make it in a coffee machine, there’s no way to tell the coffee maker to soak the tea for a certain amount of time.
Instead, it will be released into the coffee pot or your mug right away.
The lack of steeping will result in a bland, weak cup of tea that will not be satisfying.
How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea
There are a number of factors that go into making the perfect cup of tea, and it is a very personal preference that will vary on an individual-to-individual basis.
Let’s explore the four basic components of a great cup of tea so you can prepare the perfect cup of tea as you like it.
While the temperature of the water may not seem like a very important factor when making tea, it actually has a fairly significant effect on the tea flavor.
Most black teas are ideally steeped with a temperature of 96 degrees Celsius, and green teas are better suited to 70 degrees Celsius.
Some kettles allow you to set your own boiling point/temperature, but you can always use a simple thermometer to check the water temperature.
One point that should be made is that you should never reboil water that has been boiled once.
When hot water is made to boil again, a lot of the oxygen in the water is lost.
This will leave your tea tasting metallic, which is certainly not an outcome anyone is after.
The amount of time you steep your tea, or leave the tea bag in, has a very dramatic effect on the strength of the tea. Of course, everyone will have their own preferences for tea brewing, but in general the ideal time for tea brewing is 2 minutes.
It is very important that you remove the tea bag without stirring or pressing it, as these actions can release tannins and create a bitter flavor in your tea.
It is a good idea to put a tea cozy over your teapot to keep the temperature as close to the ideal as possible.
Every tea will have a different ideal steep time, and you can usually find a recommendation on the tea bag itself.
If you are making your own tea bags with loose leaf tea, you may have to play around with the steep time to find your ideal but using an infuser can help with the process.
There are any different kinds of tea on the market.
You can find black teas, green teas, white teas, oolong teas, herbal teas, and many more. Each type of tea will have its own requirements for making the perfect cup.
The amount of tea you need, the ideal temperature, and the ideal steep time will all differ among these types of tea.
The type of tea you choose will also dictate whether or not you need boiling water.
Boiling water will extract the color and strength from the tea very quickly, and this is important if you are adding milk to your tea.
However, many types of tea actually taste better when made with cooler water, so it is something to try out for yourself.
Loose Leaf vs. Tea Bag
Deciding on tea bags vs loose leaf tea is an important decision, as your cup of tea will turn out very differently depending on how it is packaged.
Standard tea bags use tea ‘dust’, and while it is very inexpensive, it is also lower in quality.
Loose leaf tea incorporates the entire tea leaf, and sometimes even extra additions to add flavour to your tea.
Loose leaf tea is therefore higher quality and can make a much tastier cup of tea than traditional teabags.
Can You Make Tea in Unique Coffee Makers (Espresso Machine, Percolator, French Press)?
While brewing coffee in more unique coffee machines such as espresso machines, percolators, and French presses is a pretty simple task, you may be wondering whether your tea-making ambitions will ever be able to come to fruition with these brewing methods.
French press coffee makers are a great way to make tea, and it is a very easy process too.
You just need to drop in a scoop of loose tea leaves, add a cup of water (heated to the ideal temperature for the tea type), close the lid and let it steep. White teas will only need a minute or two, but black teas can take 5-7 minutes.
You’ll have to perform some trial and error depending on your tea type to ensure a great cup.
Make sure you don’t push the plunger down too far, as this will release some of the tea’s bitter compounds and ruin your cup.
Percolators are also an excellent coffee machine to use for making tea, especially if you want to make more than one cup at a time.
You need to fill your percolator with cold water, add your tea bag or loose leaf tea to the percolator basket, and let the percolator run through a heating cycle.
Percolators don’t have adjustable temperatures, so you’ll have to monitor the temperature of the heated water to ensure it doesn’t burn your tea.
Lastly, we have the espresso machine.
Tea can be made in an espresso machine just as well as most other types of coffee makers, but you’ll have to remember that you will need to clean the machine to reduce the coffee bean flavor and remove and residue that has accumulated in the machine.
This process can be more difficult with an espresso machine, but if you really want that cup of tea, it is doable. As long as you pay really close attention to the water temperature and steep time, an espresso machine can produce a great cup of tea.
How to Make Iced Tea with a Coffee Machine
Making iced tea at home with your coffee maker does not need to be an overwhelming experience.
While using a cold brew system to make iced tea is an option, you will get a better flavor out of your tea if you use the same traditional brewing process that you use for your ground coffee.
A drip coffee maker is one of the best tools for making iced tea at home, and since it is also one of the most popular coffee makers for everyday use, we’ll outline some basic steps to follow while using this machine to make iced tea.
You won’t need any coffee filters, strainers or special equipment, just your tea, your coffee maker, and a pitcher/jug to store the finished product in.
Before starting, it is recommended that you thoroughly clean your coffee maker in order to get rid of the coffee ground flavour and odour that may permeate your tea.
Start by putting your tea bags into coffee maker basket with the tags hanging out.
Pour in your ideal amount of water and let the coffee maker run through its cycle.
Once all of the water has cycled through and you have a full pot of tea, let it cool for a bit to ensure you don’t damage the pitcher/jug you will be transferring it to.
If you want a stronger tea, now is the time to add some fresh tea bags that can steep a little while longer as the tea continues to cool.
Once you are happy with the strength of the tea and the coolness of it, you can pour your tea into the pitcher.
Feel free to add some slices of lemon, orange, or even spearmint to enhance the flavor, but all that’s left to do is put the jug in the fridge until it is perfectly cold and ready for drinking.