Black Tea In China Cups
[1] Black tea served in grandma’s porcelain cups (photo AGPhotographer | Canstock).

Cup Of Green Tea
[2] Prefer green tea? Compare different brands of Dragon Well, Gyokuro, Sencha, etc. (photo courtesy Kanaya Tea).

Harney & Sons English Breakfast
[3] The winner of our first round (photo courtesy Harney & Sons).

 

Cold enough for you? There’s a reason that January is National Hot Tea Month.

How about a nice cup of tea? Tea Association of the USA shares expert information for making that perfect cup of tea.

4 RULES FOR A PERFECT CUP OF TEA

The Association’s Four Golden Rules for a delicious cup of hot tea:

  • Use a teapot.
  • Bring fresh, cold tap water to a full boil (if your water is heavily chlorinated or contains other objectionable qualities, filter it first).
  • Use one teaspoon or one tea bag per cup.
  • Pour boiling water over the tea, brew 3 to 5 minutes by the clock for black tea, and serve.
  •  
    For the best flavor, preheat the teapot with a little hot water prior to use, and cover your teapot with a cozy (or a tea towel) to retain heat during the brewing process.

    While guidelines are provided, you can adjust the time, temperature and amount of tea until you find your perfect pot.
     
    SPECIAL GUIDELINES FOR GREEN TEA

  • When the water comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and allow to sit for ten minutes.
  • Then pour the water over the green tea, let it brew for one minute and serve. The brewing times may be shortened or lengthened according to your taste.
  •  
    SPECIAL GUIDELINES FOR OOLONG & WHITE TEA

    For oolongs and white teas, use water that’s between 180°-190°F. The larger and more delicate the leaf, the lower the water temperature should be. While black teas need much hotter water for proper extraction, boiling water will scorch a delicate white tea leaf.

    Oolongs need to steep a bit longer than white tea: Steep oolong for 5-7 minutes and white tea for 3-4 minutes. As with black and green teas, you can modify the times according to your own personal tastes.
     
     
    FOOD FUN: HAVE A TEA TASTING

    That’s what we did on New Year’s Day. We gathered 12 brands of English Breakfast* tea (use whatever style you like) for a three-part tasting:

  • Bigelow
  • Choice
  • Harney & Sons
  • Kusmi
  • Mighty Leaf
  • Numi
  • Stash
  • Taylors of Harrogate
  • Tazo
  • Tea Pigs
  • The Republic Of Tea
  • Two Leaves & A Bud
  •  
    We used tea bags to make the process more efficient. But loose leaf tea actually makes the best brew: It allows water to circulate around the leaves to draw out the most flavor.

    We tasted four of the teas, first black, then with milk or whatever addition the taster liked.

    We’ll be tasting the next four this weekend at brunch, the final four the following week. We’ll culminate with a taste-off among the three group “winners.”

    It’s fun, and it lets us make the best purchasing decision [for us], going forward.

     
    VISIT OUR TEA GLOSSARY & TEA INDEX FOR MORE ABOUT TEA.
    ________________

    *Note that English Breakfast is a blend of different teas, and each manufacturer has its own “recipe.” The same is true with flavored teas, like Earl Grey. With single-origin teas such as Assam, Ceylon or Darjeeling, you get the pure tea and can more easily compare quality.

      


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