I love my newfound tea ritual. What is the best approach to all things love? Sharing, of course!
My Tea Background
I’ve enjoyed green tea for years, matcha being the most recent — and most amazing — discovery. I’ve had herbal and black teas off and on during this time. I keep forgetting that I’m not too crazy about herbal teas and most of my peers don’t care for green tea (especially matcha).
For maximum fun distribution we’ll focus on black teas today. You know, the kind that go well with a splash of milk or twist of lemon and particularly delicious when served with finger sandwiches or crumpets.
Despite the origins of tea, I’m writing from a Western perspective. I should mention that I am a Non British Person. Also, not English, Welsh, and I won’t even mention Scottish or Irish. (How quickly things politicize!) For all you Western tea purists: I’m from one of the New Countries. Cheeky, I know.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Now that we’ve got that out of the way…lately I’ve been enjoying Orange Pekoe and Earl Grey in particular. A former colleague (hailing from one of those Old Countries) went through Orange Pekoe as fast as tea clippers could ship replenishments. I was mildly curious but the orange in the name Orange Pekoe did nothing to tantalize me into trying it. Now, I understand.
The best teas are strong teas so I add extra tea to the tea-to-water ratio. I also recently discovered “double bergamot Earl Grey”. Bergamot is the oil that gives Earl Grey its distinctive flavor. It’s wonderful! If you’re new to black teas I recommend popular brands such as PG Tips or Red Rose. Without further ado:
Step 1: Bring water to a full rolling boil.
Step 2: Warm teapot or cup with boiling water. Discard water.
Step 3: Place tea in teapot or cup. Loose-leaf or bagged, as you prefer. (I recommend loose-leaf to avoid compounds in the teabags but that’s a topic for another post.)
Step 4: Add boiling (not boiled) water. Cover.
Step 5: Let steep to desired strength. The longer the brewing time the stronger the flavors. Gently stir or jiggle the tea leaves or bag to allow for most thorough brewing.
Step 6: Remove tea leaves or bag, otherwise there is a risk of bitterness.
Step 7: Cover teapot with cozy to keep warm. If you don’t have a tea cozy, simply cover with a towel or cloth tucking the ends under the teapot.
Step 8: If you’re using a teapot, warm your cup before pouring.
Step 9: (Optional) Add milk, cream, sweetener or lemon to taste.* If you use sweetener, add it first. The milk or cream will cool the tea and sweeteners dissolve best in the hottest liquids.
Step 10: Sip, it’s hot! Your pinky finger will naturally extend.
Savor the Benefits
You’ll notice the benefits of your tea ritual. The tea has soothing effects, both physiological and psychological. The ritual itself is calming and relaxing; taking a few minutes to do something for yourself is a form of self-care.
*You may substitute non-dairy options but do so sparingly until you’ve adjusted to taste. Some of these substitutes can quickly overtake the tea flavor.