Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Perfect Pot (or cup) of Tea

I recently purchased a new tea pot.  As you can see in the picture above it is quite large.  I love it!  Mostly because it allows me to make enough tea for lots of friends!  (I also love it because it was a steal at only $7.00!)
Being that the weather has changed and  I have officially switched from iced tea to it's warmer version, I thought it might be a good time to post some pointers on how to make a great cup of tea.  There are a few items you may want to have on hand.  Obviously, a tea pot is nice but not absolutely essential.  If you do opt for a sweet little tea pot, you may want to have a "tea cozy" as well.  This will keep your pot warmer for a little longer.  I have several infusers.  My favorite is a fine mesh basket.  These come in many different sizes and can be placed in a tea pot or an individual tea cup.  I also have a couple of different tea ball infusers.  These too can be found in a variety of different sizes.  These typically will have a little chain on them for hanging into either a pot or cup.  Do a little experimenting and you will quickly find which infuser(s) you prefer.
Many tea aficionados are passionate about the details:  What kind of clay went into the teapot, what time of year were the tea leaves picked, what exact temperature is the water?  Others simply enjoy a great pot when a friend stops by.  Whatever your preference, try these ideas to bring out the best flavors in your tea.
1.) Preheat your teapot: While the water is heating, fill your teapot with hot tap water, let it warm, then drain it completely.
2.) Measure into the teapot infuser 1 tsp. of loose tea for every cup you plan to pour.  Some tea drinkers, especially  those who take milk in their tea, add an extra spoon for the pot.  If you're using a mesh tea ball, don't fill it more than half way to allow for expansion of the tea leaves.
3.) For black teas, bring the water to a full boil.  Remove the tea kettle from the heat as soon as the water begins to boil.  Boiling all the oxygen out of the water will flatten the tea's flavor.
4.) Before steeping, pour a small amount of the water over the tea leaves, to allow them to bloom, or open up, and release some of their bitter tannins.  Drain immediately.
5.) Fill the tea pot with boiling water.  Keep the spout of the kettle close to the teapot, so the water does not cool as you pour it in.  Cover the teapot and leave the tea to brew.  In general, black teas are best brewed for 4-5 minutes.  Green teas should brew for no more than 3 minutes.
6.) When the tea is ready, pour and serve all the tea.  Avoid keeping the leaves in contact with the hot water.  Over brewed tea tends to taste bitter.
7.) To keep the tea warm through several cups, transfer the tea to an insulated pot or cover your regular teapot with a  tea cozy. Don't apply additional heat to keep the tea warm, as this will quickly degrade its flavor.
 8.) A good-quality tea can be infused three to five times.  Just add more boiling water.  Let it steep for less time each brew,

There are many great on-line sources for purchasing tea leaves but I've found that just about any town has a store that offers a great selection of both loose leaf and bagged tea.  In San Antonio, where I live, I have the great fortune of having two favorite sources.  Central Market has a great selection of loose tea leaves.  The leaves are sold in bulk so you can purchase as much or as little as you wish.  Teavana is another great source which has selections available both on-line,( ) as well as in the North Star Mall.  There you can actually create your own personal blends.  While Teavana tends to be on the pricier side the quality more than makes up for the expense. My newest favorite pre-bagged tea is a Tazo variety called "Well-Being".  It is a black tea with orange essence and cocoa peel.  I've also found a new loose leaf variety (at Central Market) called Lavender Earl Grey.  Another that I tried recently is a Vanilla Roibos.
Oh, by the way, another reason I love this new tea pot so much is because I bought it while shopping recently with my baby sister.  That makes it an extra special cup of tea!

1 comment:

  1. Sue~ Perfect tea instructions! Having lived in England twice and having had more cups of tea than anyone could imagine, I share your love of tea and the fellowship that accompanies it. Some of my best memories from England involve sipping tea!