How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea
First choose your tea
Never under-estimate the importance of picking the right tea for the situation, choose a tea to suit your mood, amybe you need a nice relaxing infusion, or maybe you're after a lively wake up, but fit the tea to your mood for maximum enjoyment.
Heat the water properly
Heat your water using a kettle, electric or gas, it doesn't really matter, but bring it gently to boil, don't use an insta-hot spout or wall mounted boiler. Use fresh, preferably filtered, water and never re-heat already boiled water.
Get the right temperature
Different teas taste best at different temperatures, use the guidlines below as a rough guide:
Black tea (and Rooibos) - Black teas are quite hardy, and you can brew them using a fully boiling water, depending on the blend you will want to infuse for 4-6 minutes for your preferred taste.
Green tea - You will need the gentle touch, and taste best at cooler temperatures than you would use for normal black tea. Green teas give the best flavours when infused for about 2-4 minutes in 150-160F water, if you use full boiling water you risk scalding the leaves and ruining the sublime taste.
Oolong - Sometimes known as Blue tea, and it falls somewhere between a black and a green tea. You should prepare Oolong at about 190F and infuse for longer than black tea for proper taste, 4-8 minutes should bring out the full flavour.
White tea - A quite delicate tea, and tastes best when made with water slightly hotter than you would use for Green Tea, about 180F is perfect, and infuse for 4-6minutes depending on the blend.
As a rough guide you cna tell water temperature by looking at the bubbles. Small bubbles begin to float to the surface at about 160-170F, you'll see strings of small bubbles from the base of your kettle as you reach 180-190F. Full rolling boil when you see large bubbles throughout the water.
Choose your infuser
The more room you give your leaves to unfurl, the better your tea will taste. While tea infuser balls and other smaller infusers are great when space is tight, you really should use a nice wide mouthed mug infuser or and infuser teapot to get the best flavour from your tea.
Use the right amount of tea leaves
This is a somewhat tricky one, depending on the size of your mug or pot, and your personal tastes. Some teas require more leaves to fully appreciate them so whenever possible follow the guidelines that came with the tea, or speak to the person you bought the tea from for advice.
As a rough guide, for black teas use a rounded teaspoon per 12oz of water, for green teas a rounded tablespoon for the same amount of water.
Brew for the the right length of time
Brewing time is a matter of personal taste, some are better brewed quickly, while others need time for the full flavours to be released. Generally speaking you should brew green teas for less time than black, if you let them stew then the leaves will release more tannin and the tea will taste bitter.
Use the guidelines above in the temperature section for times for different types of tea, but it is important to experimnet to find what you like personally.
Remove the leaves and serve
After you have brewed the perfect cup of tea, it is important to remove the leaves so that your tea does not become stewed and bitter.
If you have brewed a black tea then you can add milk tot taste, or drink it plain, never add milk to green or oolong tea, you will spoil the taste!
Now sit back and relax....enjoy your perfect cup of tea!