Brewing tea: A process steeped in tradition

Making a pot of tea. Sounds so simple. But it is often the simple we stumble over. How we do is just as important as what we do. So before you make your next pot of tea, here are three traditional steps that will elevate your tea drinking experience. And best of all, no purchase necessary.

Go from cold to hot. Begin with cold water, always, and bring it to a rolling* boil. According to a few of my books on tea, if you run the tap a minute or two until the water is cold, there will be more oxygen in the water and the flavor of the tea will be bolder.

Steep the pot. When your water is ready, first pour an inch or so of the hot water in the pot and swirl around before pouring out. Then fill the pot with your tea, loose or bagged, and fill with remaining water. Two reasons for this really, the warmth of the pot will nurture the flavor of the tea and, more importantly, the tea in your pot will stay warmer longer.

Brew timely. For black tea, aim for 3 to 5 minutes, no more, no less. Though really, this one is more a matter of taste. But try to not go longer than 5 minutes, or else you risk the brew becoming bitter. How much tea should you brew? The general rule is one teaspoon (or teabag) per cup and than one more for the pot. I suggest to brew just this way and then start playing with more or less, depending on taste.

*The beauty of the tea kettle is you never have to guess what exactly a rolling boil is. Long ago, I was having tea with a dear friend, and, for whatever reason, I can’t remember, we did not have a kettle. So we boiled the water in a plain old open pot. Turns out, that tea was pretty damn hot. After initially burning our tongues, we ended up waiting a good 30 minutes until the tea was cool enough to drink. The kettle, it is a good thing.

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