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Brewing great tasting hot tea is easy once you develop a routine.

An old-fashioned teapot works great. After steeping, more than 99% of the tea leaves have sunk to the bottom and won’t end up in your cup. Use a strainer to catch any remaining leaves, or to make cleanup even easier, use compostable paper tea bags you fill yourself.

Metal diffusers can impart a taste to tea so are best avoided. They also prevent proper infusion. Reusable cloth tea sacks are fine but inconvenient.

Teapots and paraphernalia are far less important than how you prepare your water. If you are using water from a municipal system or well, let the cold tap flow rapidly for 20-30 seconds to clear household pipes of heavy metals.

This also allows the water to get cold enough to hold lots of oxygen, which improves taste. Use a water filter if you have one and avoid water from plastic bottles.

Temperature is the single most important variable. It doesn’t really matter what vessel you use to bring your tea water to a boil as long as it doesn’t impart any flavor to the water. For black and the darker teas, water at full rolling boil of 212ºF (100ºC) is required. Oolong is in between. It needs cooler water than black tea and hotter than green. Oolong should steep for the same 2-3 minutes as green tea.

For green and other light colored, delicate teas, pour scalding water over loose leaf tea just before the water comes to a full boil.

Black tea is the easiest to make, as it requires fully boiling water. Preheat your teapot or cup by adding a little scalding water. Empty the teapot or cup. Add the tea, and then add boiling water.

Black tea should steep 3-5 minutes. It should then be re-infused with scalding water up to seven or eight times. All the other teas require slightly less hot water and knowledge of a few brewing tricks.

The secret to successful brewing of green and white teas is to limit steeping to 2-3 minutes and to water temperatures of 80-90ºC (175-194ºF). Many people who love green tea use a brewing cup with a lid and a separate drinking cup.

Loose-leaf tea is placed in the brewing cup and hot water poured over it. The infusion is left to brew with the lid on then checked carefully after about two minutes.

If the water was hot enough, it will have infused and turned green or yellow. The tea can be poured into the drinking cup. If more brewing time is needed, let it steep for another minute or so with the lid on.

If the water temperature was too hot, the green leaves will appear bleached and the tea will taste bitter.

Usually, the water is too cool, not too hot. If the water was not hot enough, add hotter water to the same leaves until they infuse. Like black tea, green tea leaves can be infused over and over, up to seven or eight times.

Use on average one teaspoon of loose leaf tea for each 8 ounce cup you are brewing. This is the standard for dense blends such as black tea. If you are brewing tealeaves that have a lot of volume, you might use up to two or three teaspoons per cup.

When your tea is done steeping, immediately strain it and lightly stir. Serve while fresh and hot.

You can enjoy your beverage plain or with a bit of organic milk, lemon, honey or herbal sweetener. In England, a small amount of milk is often added for extra body and smoothness. In Russia, and many other countries, adding lemon is common.



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