To many people making a cup of tea is either putting some tea leaves into a pot, pouring boiling water to steep the tea and then sweetening it with sugar and serving it with milk. For some it is even easier – just take a tea bag, put it into a cup of boiling water and tea is ready. But, making a proper cup of tea is quite an art. Tea is a source of antioxidants and has the ability to prevent skin cancer. Coffee may be invigorating but tea is soothing.
Tea – black, white and green
Black tea is made from tea leaves exposed to air and allowed to ferment, which changes the colour of the leaf from green to almost black to bring out the flavour.
Green tea is made from tea leaves that have been dried but not fermented. The Japanese enjoy green tea very much. The Chinese love Oolong tea which is made from semi-fermented tea leaves.
White tea is handpicked in China on only two days in a year. The tips of the leaves are covered with silver dots. White tea may cost about $45 per 100 gms.
Herbal teas are made from dried flowers and herbs. Flavoured teas are black tea leaves that are flavoured with scents like lemon, blackcurrant etc.
Store tea in an airtight metal or ceramic tin. Keep away from sunlight, air, moisture and strong smells.
Fill the kettle with water and bring to boil. As soon as it boils, pour into the teapot over tea leaves. If the water is not well boiled, the tea will have an ‘immature’ taste. If it boils for too long, the water loses the oxygen and makes even the best tea leaf taste boring.
Do not use aluminum or enamel teapot as this can taint the tea; use glazed earthenware or porcelain.
Use one teaspoon of tea leaves for each person. Of course, you can add more tea leaves if you want stronger tea. Allow the tea to infuse for 2 minutes to 5 minutes depending on the type of tea. Never boil the water with tea leaves, it is unhealthy especially if you boil it in an aluminum pot. Once the tea is brewed, strain away the leaves.
Add fresh milk, lemon, honey or sugar to taste. If using sugar, add the sugar first so that it dissolves completely.
When sitting down to drink tea, take your time, sip it slowly and enjoy the flavour. It used to be that only the rich people can sit and sip their tea for long hours, gossiping away. Eat something along with your tea and enjoy one of the wonderful things in life.