As the weather turns colder, many people reach for a cup of tea to chase away a chill.
The story of tea can be traced back to China. Legend states that the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a Camellia sinensis tree while a servant was boiling water. Some of the leaves fell into the water, and tea was born.
There are many ways to brew a cup of tea, including some that are very time-consuming. Those without much time but a love for tea can try some efficient methods to ensure every drop of tea is as delicious as the first, which involves choosing the right tea and steeping those leaves properly.
A cup of tea naturally starts with tea leaves and water. The experts at The Republic of Tea, purveyors of quality tea, suggest using fresh, filtered spring or bottled water for the cleanest taste.
The next steps, which involve water temperature and steep time, are specific to the type of tea used. White or green tea leaves will be more delicate and should be handled with care. Brief steeping periods of 2 to 3 minutes for whole tea leaves with water that has just reached a boil are advised. Heartier teas, such as black and oolong, can benefit from hotter water and longer steeping times, roughly five to seven minutes. Over-steeping the tea can result in tea that is bitter.
The next step is to handle the water properly. Always pour hot water over the tea bag or loose tea infuser directly into the cup or ceramic teapot for the most flavor. Do not put the tea into a cup already filled with water. Avoid squeezing tea bags after steeping is finished, as this also contributes to bitterness.
When the infuser is fully submerged, cover the cup with a small saucer during the entire steeping process so that the water retains as much heat as possible, advise tea experts. Remove the tea promptly when you finish steeping. Remember to drink the tea hot or warm for the best flavor.
Tea drinkers have their own unique tastes. When adding milk, lemon, honey, or sugar, do so sparingly so that the true flavor of the tea still shines through.
Quality tea can be purchased at the supermarket or at mom and pop tea stores, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. Merchants can advise about particular flavor blends and offer their own tips for the perfect cup of tea.