Last week we received a tweet from the lovely Theresa Lemieux, also a tea lover, asking for brewing tips for the perfect cup of tea. We are always happy to share anything about tea – the beverage and the rituals. But before sharing brewing tips, I want to introduce our readers to Theresa. “I am a home cook and gourmand and a slave to the whims of picky children. I love holiday feasts and feeding a crowd.’ Her philosophy is that really great food is simple food, and shared food is the best of all. We totally agree, Theresa. A quick look at her website – Ciaodownwithmamatheresa – will reward you with a photo essay of the countryside north of Toronto. On the current home page, there’s a very evocative three-picture introduction to an essay of photographs of southern Ontario (Canada). The middle picture in this introduction speaks to me. Click on the link to see the full essay of amazing nature pictures from one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Thanks for sharing Theresa!
And now for the brewing tips
Start with a choice loose leaf tea. We recommend buying two or three flavours and types of loose leaf tea in foil pouches and storing these in cool, dry place. For example, a single estate Darjeeling tea, a blended black tea like Early Grey, and a white or green tea will give you ample variety.
Next step is your teapot – a good earthenware, ceramic, or porcelain teapot works best. We love the sterling silver teapots of yore – but to us, the taste of the tea is just not quite to our liking. Make sure your teapot is ‘squat’ – that is fat at the bottom to accommodate the blossoming tea leaves. See our blog on ‘Brown Betty’.
Now to the actual brewing
Bring a kettleful of COLD water to a roiling boil. Pour a little boiling water into your teapot – about a quarter of the teapot. Let stand for about one minute; give the water a swish and then pour a little into your teacup …. Might as well warm the teacup too!
This part of the tea brewing process readies the teapot for the tea leaves.
Drain the teapot; measure a scant tea spoon of tea leaves into the bottom of the teapot; pour the corresponding amount of the water that has just stopped boiling into your teapot – the usual ratio is one teaspoon of tea leaves to one full cup of water.
Steeping the tea leaves
Your have now brewed an excellent cup of tea; the next step is steeping the tea – this little act that can make or break a perfect cup of tea.
The steeping process begins the minute the boiled water hits the tea leaves in your teapot. Allow the tea leaves to blossom in the hot water – we don’t like infusers because you never get all the tea leaves to expand and release their flavours. Steeping now becomes a question of personal taste. How do you like your tea – light and gently flavoured or dark and richly flavoured? Every kind of tea will have a different steeping time. For example, you may want to steep a green tea longer than a black tea. Play around with steeping times until your taste buds let you know, with apologies to George Bernard Shaw and Professor Higgins for paraphrasing, “By jove, I think you’ve got it!”
Use a tea strainer to pour your cup of tea. Inhale deeply. Sip gently.
Do you have questions about tea – the beverage or the ritual? Send us a comment or tweet us.