Sunday, 12 February 2012

How to make a great pot of tea!

I have always been a tea drinker. Cant stand the taste of coffee in a cup. I like coffee cake with coffee icing and have even been known to munch on the odd chocolate covered coffee bean - but to actually drink the stuff - Yuelch!

When I got married my mom started bring my grandmothers Noritake dinner set over from NZ in drips and drabs and encouraged me to use the setting rather than store it and pass it on. Of the whole dinner set the tea cups and saucers were the easiest piece to use - and so I did. About the same time I started using "real tea cups" I discovered a tea stall at the markets that sold flavoured black tea's as well as green and herbal concoctions and so my tea drinking took a giant swing upwards!

Its one of my only indulgences - especially when I don't smoke, don't drink a lot of alcohol and don't even have have a TV to blob out in front of! So I like to enjoy my tea. Made in a proper tea pot and sipped out of a nice cup forces me to slow down and relax, especially on a busy day! 

Here's what I do...

First I heat the kettle with nice fresh water and bring it to a rolling boil.

Then I choose a nice tea and put a teaspoon for each cup I am making in the pot. This time I am having a cup  of Duchess Grey from Tea Therapy in Stones Corner, Brisbane. The old adage of one spoonful for each person and one for the pot was perpetuated by the tea companies to get you to use more. Of course if you like a strong tea - put more in!

Once the water is boiled, pour the water from the kettle into the tea pot remembering only to fill the pot with as much water as you need to fill the cups you intend to make. If you pour into much you will have a weak tea and if you don't put in enough then you will only get 1/2 a cup of tea!

And now for the hard bit - waiting for the tea to draw! Get your cup ready. I have a bit of a collection of odd tea cups as well as my grandmothers set. Pick one that suits your mood.

Let the tea draw for about 3-5 minutes depending on the strength of the tea and how you like it. Finely cut teas will draw a lot quicker than whole leaf ones because of the surface ratio. I often check the tea an give it a bit of swirl with a teaspoon while its still in the pot to help things along a bit.

While you are waiting for the tea to draw, pop in some sugar (if that's how you have yours) I put the sugar in first so that it dissolves quicker with the hot tea splashed on to it than if I add it later.
The milk in first (MIF) and milk in last (MIL) debate still rages on after many centuries. I did a bit of Internet research when the argument hit our house and it seems that there is a is difference with the milk protein if you add it first. its something to do with the heat of the water in the tea when you first put it in the cup. I can't taste the difference - so really, its a personal preference sort of thing in the end. Pop some milk in now if you are a MIF or wait till you have poured the tea if you are a MIL!

Once you think the tea is about the strength you like it, pop your strainer over the top of your cup and start gently pouring your tea into the cup. If you don't have a strainer, you will end up leaving a small bit of tea in the bottom of your cup when you are finished your drink, allowing you the opportunity to "read your tea leaves!"

Now, some people like a slice of lemon in their tea. If that's you, dive right in! But I'm a milk and sugar girl from way back. I had milk and sugar in my tea as a child and I liked it well enough not to mess with it! Maybe I have never really grown up!

Add as much or as little milk as you like - you're the one drinking it and its all about feeling good, so don't bow to pressure. Have it the way that you enjoy! Give your tea a decent stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved and the milk is evenly distributed through the tea.

Add a biscuit, find a nice place to sit, sip slowly and enjoy!

Score card:
Green-ness: 4/5 Loose tea generally has less packaging and less processing!
Frugal-ness: 4/5 Often seems more expensive than Generic brand tea bags - but its a cheap indulgence overall!
Time cost: 6 or 7 minutes from filling the jug to taking the first sip
Skill level: I made my first pot of tea when I was at Brownies. If you can boil the jug, you can make a great cup of tea!
Fun -ness: A nice ritual that grounds me as it demands that I slow down. You cant make a pot of tea quickly. Fun things sometimes take a bit more time...

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