Tea: How To Brew The Perfect Pot

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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To brew the perfect pot of tea, you need only a few basic items and a bit of patience. Getting the proportions right, to suit your particular tea-drinking preferences, is the tricky part. Start with a clean teapot which has been rinsed with warm water and dried. Here's what you do to make tea for two:

First, boil enough water for two cups of tea, using the purest water available. Tap water that has been chlorinated has a taste and odor that affects the tea, and should be avoided if possible. Now measure the tea leaves, putting one teaspoon of tea in the pot, for each cup you want to drink. Then add one extra teaspoon "for the pot". So, if you are making two cups of tea, measure out two teaspoons of tea, and add one more. Three teaspoons of tea are sitting at the bottom of your pot now and hopefully they are fresh. It is best to buy loose tea in small quantities and store it properly in airtight containers. Teas lose their freshness when exposed to air, heat and humidity. Store it in a tin, away from the oven, and it will retain its flavor.

When the water has come to a boil, let it rest for a few seconds and then pour it into the teapot and let the tea steep. Teas that are fruity and light, need only about three minutes to brew. Darker teas may take up to five minutes. There is also the question of personal preference. Do you intend to brew a strong tea, or something more delicate? This is where experience comes in. It might take a few tries to determine the perfect brewing time for your perfect pot of tea.

There are many kinds of teapots and many straining devices available for the tea drinker. Some pots come with built in tea strainers. Tea balls that can hold enough tea leaves for four people are popular, as is the tea "spoon" which is handy for a one-person cup of something warm and uplifting. Whatever you decide to use, strain the tea into cups when brewing time has elapsed.

You might decide to add a bit of honey, or a little lemon, but stay away from milk unless you are making a strong black breakfast tea. If you have successfully brewed a fragrant cup of tea, let its perfection speak for itself. Now find a cozy seat and enjoy a beverage the Chinese had been drinking for over two thousand years, before it made its way to Europe and then to America.

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