Yes, I know, everyone knows how to make a cup of tea. Right? Wrong! I am simply amazed at how many people make tea BADLY. The water is generally not hot enough, or too hot. If they use a teabag, it’s left in the cup or pot FOREVER! And these are the very same people who would never think of serving a badly prepared cup of coffee. A well made cup of tea is delicious. Please don’t offer me a tepid cup with a teabag hanging out. If you do, of course I will accept, but don’t be offended if I don’t drink it.
It’s not complicated. There are really just three simple steps:
HEAT THE WATER
Get a tea kettle or a saucepan, fill it with as much water as you think you will need for the pot or cup you are making. DON’T use water that’s been sitting in the kettle most of the day. The oxygen has dissipated and now it’s flat. Use freshly drawn water from the tap. Bottled water is not necessary.
You don’t need any fancy appliance. By all means, if you have an electric kettle, use it, but if not, put the kettle or a saucepan on the stove. Please do not use a microwave. It’s just not possible to know what the temperature of the water is when using a microwave oven. And, if the water gets too hot, there is a chance the cup will explode. Yes, it does happen!
The temperature you heat the water to is very important. If you use boiling water (210°) for green tea, you will stew the leaves and it will be bitter. If you use water that’s under the boil (180°) for black tea, it will be flat and insipid. When making black tea (English Breakfast, Earl Grey, etc.), bring the water to a rolling boil. When making green tea (Jasmine, flavored or unflavored greens), bring the water to a soft boil and let it cool for a minute or two before pouring over the tea. It’s not complicated.
POT OR NO POT
Yes, I use a teapot every time I make tea. Must you use a teapot? No. But I truly believe it adds to the ceremony, the enjoyment and the taste. Using a teapot doesn’t mean you need to get Grandma’s old 6-cup porcelain pot from the back of the cupboard. Teapots come in all sizes and styles. In the morning I use a three-cup ceramic pot, perfect for making two large mugs of tea. Later in the day, I use my two-cup glass teapot, for an afternoon pick-me-up.
LOOSE OR TEA BAG
Do you drink instant coffee? No. Then why would you use a teabag, which is nothing more than instant tea? Yes, teabag offerings have become much better recently. This is only because the large tea companies were losing market share as consumers started buying more and more loose leaf tea. As a result, these large tea companies had to step up their game to compete with the loose leaf tea market. Certainly you can use a tea bag if you’d like, but given the choice, use good quality loose leaf. Don’t you deserve it?
MEASURE THE TEA
Use one teaspoon of tea for each 8 oz. cup. An 8 oz. measuring cup is not the same as a teacup. Teacups are usually 5 oz. Mugs are usually 12 to 14 oz. All the more reason to use a teapot for accurate measurements. A three-cup teapot uses three teaspoons of tea. What is the capacity of your teapot? Just get a measuring cup and find out.
Green teas and white teas are lighter in weight than black teas. You may want to use a bit more green or white teas than a teaspoon. Black teas are heavier. You might want to use just a bit less than a teaspoon. Your taste will ultimately determine how much to use.
Then put the tea into an infuser or directly into your teapot. Pour the boiling water if it’s black tea (cooler than boiling if it’s green tea) over the tea. Cover and let it steep.
TIMING – HOW LONG TO STEEP
This is also a critical point. You need to steep the tea long enough for the flavor to be extracted from the leaves. 30 seconds is plenty of time for a tea bag, but certainly not enough for loose leaf tea. For black tea, steep for 3 to 5 minutes. For green tea and white teas, steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Start with these times and then adapt to your own taste. If you like your tea steeped a little more, or less, adjust the steeping time slightly. But, please, remember you must take the tea bag or infuser out of the cup or pot at the end of the steeping time.
POUR AND ENJOY
Again, please remove the infuser or the teabags from the teapot or cup. Don’t leave them in the pot or your tea will oversteep and become bitter. Do you take milk and sugar with your tea? Feel free. Now relax and enjoy!
To recap, all you need to make the perfect cuppa is:
.. good quality tea
.. water at the right temperature
.. steeped for the correct amount of time
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