Tags: How to make tea.
It’s 6 am. You shuffle out to the kitchen in your plaid slippers and flick on the kettle. You hunt around for your favourite mug, but it’s not where it should be. You check the dishwasher, the cupboards, and then ah ha! You remember you left it in the loungeroom. You go get it and scrub the hell out of it because you just know the dog had his nose in it. You glare at your dog accusingly at the thought, and he gives you a haughty look back. Once appropriately sanitised, you drop in the tea bag.
You hit boil on the kettle again. You fill your mug and then jiggle the bag up and down until it’s the colour you like (or perhaps you follow an ‘insert number’ dunk rule). You add just the right amount of milk. We all know the saying ‘It’s not my cup of tea’. We all have our preferences which result in a brew we love over all others. That said, well, I’m not saying you’re making your tea the wrong way… but.
Well look here, if you make tea like the tired, dog loving person in the above paragraph, then there are a few easy tweaks you could make to exponentially improve your favourite brew. And excellent tea is the only way to have tea, in my opinion. “Ok get on with it, I don’t have all day – just tell me your bloody tips and I’ll decide for myself Lass!” Ok ok, I hear you.
Here it is:
Step 1: Use real tea. There is a word in the English language that is the opposite of the ‘Cream of Crop’, and thy name is Fannings. Tea bags are made with fannings, which is basically the lower leaves of the plant plus a bunch of sticks and dirt, which is then ground up into dust and auctioned off to companies like Dilmah, Twinnings, Lipton, etc. Just tear open a bag and have a look – does it look like it came from a plant or a tobacco pouch? Please, unless you’re making a nice big bowl of tea for your dogs, avoid tea bags.
No matter what sort of tea you like, look for loose leaf as a general rule. You’ll have to make a special shopping trip for it or order it online. What’s available at any supermarket, no matter how big and colourful their hot beverage aisle is, is no good. If you have the time and want to go for a long drive, there are some really beautiful specialty tea stores no more than an hour or two from you.
There are also some excellent places to get tea online-which are often cheaper than you expect as they have fewer overheads. Enviro Tip: ditching tea bags for loose leaf is a boon for the environment. Producing the bleached bag (which also isn’t great for you), and the tag isn’t good for the environment, and neither is chucking it in the bin. With loose leaf tea – you can just go turf it in the compost heap or over the neighbour’s fence. Even if you do put it in the bin, it’s still better than putting it in the bin inside a tea bag.
Step 2: Tip out the water that’s in your kettle right now. Put the kettle under the tap, and pour in new water. Boil. ONCE. For the love of all that is good and holy, don’t just fill up the kettle and keep pressing boil whenever you want another tea throughout the day. Please, if you have any humanity at all, don’t push that button more than once. Why? Because it’s the oxygen in the water that infuses the tea.
Boiling removes oxygen. Boil the heck out of it and there will be none left. Ever made a tea and you go to get the bag out and there is just some brown stuff pooled on the bottom of the cup and the rest of the water in the cup is clear? Yuck. Enviro tip: boiling a smaller amount of water takes less time, and hence saves you on electricity if we’re being really pedantic. Which you probably are.
Step 3: Just follow the instructions on your tea. That’s it. Like any recipe, don’t go thinking that you can substitute, say, coconut for sugar, and beetroot for butter. The next thing you know the children are crying and good lord Susan you’ve ruined Emily’s Birthday Party! If it says brew for 4 minutes – do it.
Other hot tea tips (see what I did there?):
Use a timer. Over brewing is the same as cooking that cake for an extra hour; Under brewing is akin to serving a watery curry before it’s had time to thicken. If you want a weaker tea, use less tea. Brew for the recommended amount of time. If you want stronger tea, use more tea.
Brew for the recommended amount of time. Use a strainer that has plenty of holes big enough for the water to get in there and infuse that great tea you’ve just bought. I’ve seen lots of strainers that have holes so fine that water has to fight to get in. If you’re using nice healthy tea leaves, you can use a strainer with fairly big holes.
Teapots are gorgeous. But you don’t really need them – get a strainer you can put straight in your cup. Put whatever type and amount of milk you like in your tea. Generally, you only put milk in black tea. But I know plenty of people (weirdos) who like milk in their herbal brew. Making tea is just like any recipe; there is chemistry to it and thing falls apart if the right things aren’t done with the right things, for the right amount of time.
In closing, tea is a very personal experience, and everyone enjoys it a different way. You should always make it however you enjoy it best. But I do hope that some people find an improved cup of tea using the above tips because a perfect cup of tea really is the nectar of the gods (that, and red wine, obviously).