Beer brewing, tea brewing, coffee brewing, the magic in the making of these super popular beverages, you can DIY your way to geek heaven 7 layers deep.
I have been brewing green tea at home for more than 10 years now. Over the years I tried tea balls, glass filters, old used chemistry gear, things I will not speak of and more to extract green tea with hot water! I settled on stainless steel & glass after a few early years of experiments.
Grain, Hops, Tea Plant, Coffee Bean Tree, the soil these are grown in along with climate, weather, farming techniques and more affect the quality of your plant base ingredients. Taste, aroma, mouth feel, the chemistry and emotion of experiences the beverages has its origin in soils. Healthy soil is a living composite material always in a state of flux recycling the natural world with living biochemistry call ecology. Soil ecology is the scientific study of all the living things in soil, bacteria and fungi that break down plant matter, compost that breaks apart and becomes living soil. People often think of worms and mushrooms when they think of soil breaking down the floor of a forest litter. You can turn food cutting from veggies and fruit into some of the nicest soil. On farms with health soil, compost quality is key, the soil biological communities are somewhat self sustaining.
When you are buying grain, hops, tea or coffee, buy organic because that means you are voting for healthy farms, which means you are voting for healthy soils, high quality compost with good biological value. Buying organic means you are voting for a healthier future, better long term flavors to share with future generations. To make the best beer, the best tea or the best coffee, you have to start with high quality ingredients.
In beer brewing, tea brewing and coffee brewing, water quality affect the extraction. Clean clear water free of contaminate is ideal for protecting the flavor integrity of your high quality organic ingredients. Meg & I filter our otherwise relatively high quality tap water to remove compounds that contribute unwanted flavors. We do this for all of our drinking water, brewing water and water used in cooking soups, stews and in other kitchen food prep activities where the water is an ingredient. We use plain tap water to wash our veggies and fruit, feel no need to use filtered water for this. We compost our foot scraps into a big in the kitchen, then empty that bin into our yard waste. We try to conserve water, generally try not to be wasteful with anything.
Temperature & Time
Not just absolute single temperature measurement, you must also consider time. The brewing time affects what chemicals are extracted, which affects every attribute of your final product. Temperature & timing go hand and hand and this is where people become dorky, esoteric and interesting with their methodology. With green tea for example you can get these subtle bread flavors with exquisite subtle complexity if you do lower than boiling temperature extractions for brief precisely timed brewing intervals. I am new to coffee and still getting my feet wet so I cannot give advice. I followed the direction with my french press, and just started using an Aeropress this morning. It will take time for me to develop eccentricities with my methodologies, though reading the works of others on these topics online has already loaded up my mind with ideas to try out. I am not normally a morning person, but the coffee gives me something newfangled to experiment with, which gets me excited, enough to write this posting. Similarly, my foray into coffee has ignited my interests in experimenting to get better green tea flavors again. I had defaulted to a standard methodology for green tea after several hundred similar batches, tuned to a predictable methodology.
Roast/ Hops/ Variety/ Origin
For beer that is mostly about flavoring grain, hop selection/ additions/ timing, and recipe. With Tea we get down to variety, green, black or white, and origin, and sub type. With coffee you have roast level and origin, stick to fresh grinding to capture more of the awesome flavors, through you can buy pre-ground at many stores.
Far to complex to get into this at any depth. Beer brewing the real way requires a lot of gear, a capital complexity hurtle that keeps many people away from brewing DIY style at home, though many try for a short time, most give up and leave it to the pros! Tea & Coffee on the other hand are things that people make at home all the time! You can get away with using hot water to make tea or coffee in a third world country with gear you can find almost anywhere. A simple glass, metal cup and filter of somekind along with hot water and something to steep is all you need to make an aqeuous infusion of tea or coffee. Extracting tea and coffee with hot water is an art form.
Once you have you gear, system, setup, kit, method, etc, you have to spend time dialing in, tuning, getting a feel for your way, your operation. Each machine or system is going to have its own unique operating principles, and the temperature of the room is going to affect your system, so keep that in mind. For example, boiling room temperature water in a microwave will depend on the room temperature, cooler water is going to take more time in the box to heat to boiling, or slightly below if you are aiming to capture flavors that boil away at higher temperatures, or unwanted flavors/ compounds that are extracted at higher temperatures.
Customize Like Your Genome
Each person has a unique genome. Our preferences, tastes, smell, perception, all aspects of what we like or dislike find their functional origins in our genetics. Some people like strongly flavored tea while others prefer a nice light floral complex carb note of subtle sweetness. Some people like acidic strong char flavored coffee while other prefer the complex nose of a elegant infusion. Beer styles in today's era of nano-micro-macro breweries have never been more varied. I recently tried a Peanut Butter Porter that had the distinctive sweet taste of Hazelnut liquor, my pallet got wet at the thought of the taste.