October 10, 2010 at 8:00 am
· Filed under Beverages
Yesterday we discussed what it takes to brew a great cup of coffee. Today, we focus on a great cup of tea.
A cup of fine tea is so delicious, it requires no milk or sugar—like a cup of delicious black coffee. Milk and sweeteners are used to give a more pleasing flavor to bland, bitter or otherwise unattractive tea flavors.
So spend more and start with good tea. While the price per pound may seem high, no home needs that much tea. You can start with a few ounces.
While all tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, the terroir (microclimate, soil, etc.) and how the tea is finished after plucking creates many hundreds of different flavors (think of how varied “red wine” is).
Fancy packaging and silken tea bags are no guarantee of the finest tea. Look for a store or tea salon that sells loose tea and learn to use a tea ball or a other infuser. Our favorite is the Ingenuitea, a small plastic pot that infuses the loose tea and then is placed atop a cup or mug to release the brewed tea, straining out the leaves. We also like Bodum’s YoYo Personal Tea Set with a built-in removable strainer in a double-wall glass mug (no coasters required) and lid to keep the heat in.
Photo by Sara Sang | IST.
When choosing teas to try, consider this “system”:
Choose hearty teas for breakfast. Assam, Ceylon, Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast are examples.
Go lighter for afternoon tea. Try Chinese blends, such as Darjeeling.
Stay light for after-dinner tea. Decaffeinated tea or caffeine-free herbal teas (chamomile, hibisucus, rooibos and rosehip, for example) won’t keep you awake.
Store tea in an airtight container away from light, moisture and aromas that can alter its delicate flavor. Green and white teas can be refrigerated for freshness, but don’t “store” tea. Buy only what you’ll consume in a month or two.