Here are Ten Tips for the perfect cup of black tea, according to my Scots/Irish Grandmother and her sister my Great Aunt Nellie.
All teas have different temperatures for brewing, so these rules, my tea drinking friends, although there are similarities to other teas, only applies to black tea.
1. A clean teapot – that whole nonsense about never washing out your teapot is culinary myth #7406. The old tannins that are sticking to the inside of your not so clean teapot affect flavour and not in a good way.
2. Fresh cold tap water – or better yet filtered fresh cold tap water is the best water to use when making tea. Fresh water is aerated (has oxygen in it) which affects the flavour of the tea, and that’s in a good way.
3. Loose tea versus tea bags – For flavour any tea snob worth their weight in tea leaves will pick loose tea. I’m one of them. Loose tea has a higher ratio of water to tea leaf contact in your tea pot which results in more flavour in every sip. If you pick loose tea, you’ll need a strainer. Most new teapots have built in strainers OR you can use a wire mesh ball. Tip: don’t over pack a tea ball. (there’s a joke there I just know it..) Tea bags are convenient, and I use them all the time, but for the best cuppa I’m a loose tea kinda girl.
4. Size matters – Measure out the correct amount of tea. The rule of thumb is one teaspoon (5 mL) of loose tea per cup. My Great Aunt Nellie’s rule was one per cup and one for the tea pot but she made tea that could dissolve a spoon. Using tea bags? It works out to be 1 bag per cup, unless it’s a 2-cup tea bag. Tip: don’t add the tea to the pot just yet. Read Step #5 first.
5. Hot Your Pot – Translation: preheat the teapot by using some of the almost boiling water from the kettle. This ensures that when the correct water temperature hits your tea leaves your room temperature tea pot isn’t going to absorb the heat and ruin the tea. Pour in a small amount of hot water and swirl it around for 15 seconds and then discard water.
6. Don’t over boil the water – . This will get rid of the much needed oxygen that is in the just boiled water which. Best bet – buy my new favourite tea making toy – the Breville Tea Pot. This toy is genius – it has temperature gauge for each type of tea that you may choose to drink plus a time brewing button to match the type of tea you’re drinking.
7. Putting it altogether – Add the tea to the hot pot and pour in the boiling water.
8. Steep – All teas have a range of steeping for optimum flavour. Black teas need a steeping time of 3-5 minutes. BUT – my Gran and Great Aunt were into strong tea and they brewed their tea for up to 7 seven minutes.
9. Bye- bye leaves – Remove the tea leaves or bag and either throw directly into your garden or compost. To keep your perfectly brewed tea at the right temperature put on a tea cozy.
10. Serve – Pour into a china cup and serve with milk, sweetener or for optimum health benefits leave it clear.