To brew the perfect cup of tea, you need fresh, aromatic tea leaves, a well-designed teapot, clean water, and a good kettle.

Fresh tea, even black tea, should be fragrant and floral with complex flavors, like a fine wine.† For fresh tea, itís best to buy at a time when a new shipment has appeared on the shelf at your market.† Certain times of year, fall for example, are a good bet.† You can also improve your chances by purchasing a brand that has a good canister, perhaps with a foil lining, rather than just a box in cellophane.

The water you use should not contain heavy concentrations of minerals or chlorine.† You may wish to filter your tap water twice; a Brita filter helps. If your water is very hard, you may be able to rid it of minerals by boiling for over half an hour, allowing the minerals to settle, and then siphoning the water into a suitable storage container.
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A good teapot is hard to find.† You need one that doesnít drip excessively; usually a sharp lip on the spout is a good indication that the pot wonít drip, but not always.† The Corningware teapot is perfectly designed with very little dripping and it is easy to clean.† If the spout of the teapot is too narrow or if there is a grate at the end, you wonít be able to get it very clean.† A sturdy teapot will last longer, of course, than a more elegant one.† Ceramic or porcelain makes the best tea.  
Cleaning the teapot is paramount! You wonít get good tea flavor from a dirty pot. Scrubbing with baking soda will do the trick unless you have stubborn hard-water stains; in that case, you may have to soak in a bleach solution.† Bleach will lift the stains, but can leave a taste if youíre not careful.† After rinsing thoroughly, soak the pot again with baking soda and hot water; then, rinse thoroughly again.
Soft Strawberries apron
Soft Strawberries by Gourmand2go 

To prepare the pot for brewing tea, fill it with hot tap water and allow it to rest while the water is heating.  Once the water has reached a full rolling boil, empty the pot and drop your teabag in just before you pour your boiling water.  Pour slowly, directly onto the bag.  Wait 2-5 minutes, depending on the type of tea, then remove the bag with tongs. Pour the tea from a height, aerating as you pour.

If you like milk in your tea, the tea should be allowed to cool slightly before it is added.  If the tea is too hot, it will denature the protein in the milk and give an off flavor.  You may place a candy thermometer in the teacup and wait for the temperature to cool below 117° F, if you don’t like to take chances.

Recent evidence indicates that plain black tea has anti-oxidants, just as red wine does, so drinking tea after a meal reduces the ill-effects of saturated fat in your diet.  Green tea also has been shown to be beneficial in this way. Anti-oxidants combine with free radicals to eliminate the carcinogenic propensities of free radicals.  If you are in the habit of sipping tea all day long, you’ll probably live to be 120!

If caffeine affects your ability to sleep, you can drink decaffeinated tea and expect the same beneficial health effects, although not all cafeine has been eliminated.  Or, you may prefer an herbal tea without caffeine after six p.m., like roibos, for example.  Roibos is beneficial when you feel nauseated, but with vanilla it is pleasant to drink in the evening in any case.

Darjeeling Tea

Finding good quality tea in bags becomes harder all the time. Tetley had a good loose tea that was available in supermarkets, but this seems to have been discontinued. Specialty shops and online importers seem to be the only reliable sources of great tea these days. The best tea is Darjeeling which is recongizable by its gold-tipped leaves and comes in varieties dependent on the time of year it is picked. You may be able to find it in gourmet stores and health-food stores.

Tea balls can be found in housewares shops in sizes suitable for a cup or a pot.


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