Tea leaves used as a beverage is an ancient delicacy that goes back many centuries. Although the British did not start using it on a large scale until the 18th century, tea has been around in a variety of forms since the time of ancient civilizations.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a hot cup of steaming tea, you know why so many people drink it regularly. Now, in addition to its tasty relaxing properties, research shows that tea is good for human health. There has never been a better time to learn to make this delightful beverage.
Although tea is made from many types of leaves and herbs, modern drinkers typically use a packaged tea bag to brew a single cup at a time. Here are a few tips for making a delicious drink that will warm your heart as well as your bones:
- Use fresh, quality tea. If your box of teabags has been sitting in the cupboard for a year or two, it’s time for a new batch. You can probably drink older tea with no ill effects, but why take a chance, especially since tea is so inexpensive, costing no more than a few cents per bag. Rather than settle for a generic brand, choose a respected name in tea products, such as Lipton or Earl Grey, although there are other good brands as well. Bring it home from the store, tear off the cellophane, and take a deep sniff. Fresh tea is a joy to the senses.
- Boil clean water in a clean saucepan. If your tap water dispenses unfiltered well water or heavily chlorinated city water, buy purified water for this special treat. Look for a good name in water processing plants and keep a few bottles handy to feed your tea drinking habit. Pour enough water for two cups of tea in the saucepan and heat to boiling.
- Open the tea bag and lay the bag in a pretty cup; an aesthetic container makes the experience even more enjoyable. Keep the cup out of the way of a draft so the hot tea will not cool down too rapidly. Drape the tea string over the side of the cup and let the tab lay in the saucer beside the cup to anchor the bag. Turn off the boiling water and carefully pour enough into the cup to bring it close to full, perhaps 5/6 of the way to the rim (about eight ounces), leaving room for stirring that will not splash the tea out of the cup.
- Now let the tea steep. Allow three to five minutes for a medium brew, or longer if you prefer your tea dark. It is important not to disturb the tea during this stage, as you want the bag to release all its flavor and not be arrested midway through the process.
- When the tea has steeped at least three minutes without being disturbed, check to see that there are no surface “clouds.” If there is, wait another minute or two for them to dissipate. Perfect tea will not have a cloudy surface. You should see steam rising from the cup, indicating that the beverage is still hot. Remove the bag when your tea is the desired color for richness; discard it carefully, since tea contains tannic acid, which can stain certain surfaces.
Now add lemon, cream, or sugar to complete your delicacy. Or drink it “black,” without adding another thing. Find a picture window with a relaxing view or curl up in a cozy chair with a favorite book with tea as your favorite companion.