Black tea served in grandma’s porcelain cups (photo AGPhotographer | Canstock).
Cold enough for you? There’s a reason that January is National Hot Tea Month.
How about a nice cup of tea? Tea Association of the USA shares expert information for making that perfect cup of tea.
4 RULES FOR A PERFECT CUP OF TEA
The Association’s Four Golden Rules for a delicious cup of hot tea:
While guidelines are provided, you can adjust the time, temperature and amount of tea until you find your perfect pot.
For oolongs and white teas, use water that’s between 180°-190°F. The larger and more delicate the leaf, the lower the water temperature should be. While black teas need much hotter water for proper extraction, boiling water will scorch a delicate white tea leaf.
Oolongs need to steep a bit longer than white tea: Steep oolong for 5-7 minutes and white tea for 3-4 minutes. As with black and green teas, you can modify the times according to your own personal tastes.
That’s what we did on New Year’s Day. We gathered 12 brands of English Breakfast* tea (use whatever style you like) for a three-part tasting:
We used tea bags to make the process more efficient. But loose leaf tea actually makes the best brew: It allows water to circulate around the leaves to draw out the most flavor.
We tasted four of the teas, first black, then with milk or whatever addition the taster liked.
We’ll be tasting the next four this weekend at brunch, the final four the following week. We’ll culminate with a taste-off among the three group “winners.”
It’s fun, and it lets us make the best purchasing decision [for us], going forward.
*Note that English Breakfast is a blend of different teas, and each manufacturer has its own “recipe.” The same is true with flavored teas, like Earl Grey. With single-origin teas such as Assam, Ceylon or Darjeeling, you get the pure tea and can more easily compare quality.
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