How to Prepare Tea
Use freshly drawn cold water
For full tea flavor, let the tap run for a few minutes so that the water will be filled with oxygen, or use bottled water or springwater; avoid flavorless distilled water.
“Hot” the pot
To preheat the teapot, rinse with nearly boiling water, swirl the water about, and discard through the spout. If you skip this step, the water temperature will drop on contact with the cold pot and the tea’s flavor will suffer.
Measure 1 teaspoon loose tea per cup
(or 1 teabag for each 2 cups of tea). Add “one for the pot” if you like strong tea. Deposit loose tea in a pot, fabric tea sock, paper filter, or infusing basket. Wire mesh balls cramp leaves. If you use one, fill no more than halfway so water can circulate.
Bring the water to a full rolling boil
When the steam shoots straight up, bring the pot to the kettle and pour water over the leaves/bags. Dunking a tea bag in water makes mediocre tea. Water that is not hot enough or overboiled results in flat-tasting tea. Cover the pot with the lid and immediately pop on a quilted cozy or pot holder to hold heat.
Brew by the clock
Never attempt to judge tea strength by color. The larger the leaf, the longer the brewing time. Steep black tea 3-5 minutes; any longer and the tea might be bitter. Herbal teas may take more time. Green and oolong teas are more delicate than black. You don’t want to cook the leaves, so brew 1 to 3 minutes with water that has not quite boiled.
Remove the leaves/bags to prevent further steeping. Stir the tea and serve immediately, or cover with a cozy to keep hot. The third cup will taste as good as the first!
How to Prepare Iced Tea
To make a 2-quart pitcherful of iced tea, bring one quart of freshly drawn cold water to a full rolling boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and immediately add fifteen tea bags or 1/3 cup loose tea. Stir, then cover and steep five minutes. Stir again and strain into a pitcher holding an additional quart of freshly drawn cold water. Freeze fruit juice, lemonade, or mint syrup (equal parts water and sugar, freshly chopped mint to taste; boil 5 minutes) into ice cube trays for a taste treat.