How to brew the perfect cup of tea. (By an American)
While it may seem strange for an American, I love tea. Mostly hot tea (sweet iced tea is for another time!) and I drink it a lot. I drink it at least every morning and sometimes multiple times through the day especially if it is cold out. This “recipe’ if you will was made through personal trial and error but also seems to coincide with most “tea theory” out there. I don’t know if this is an authentic British tea technique, but hopefully I can find out soon!
There are too types of tea brewing I’m going to talk about: cup and pot. When it comes to cup tea (a single cup of tea brewed directly in the mug) I always use tea bags. This is a utilitarian tea for me; something to be brewed quickly and easily when half awake. To brew tea this way a place a tea bag in a mug, add boiling water, steep for three minutes, and add milk and sugar.
The tea bag that I prefer is Tetley British Blend bag. This tea is delicious and an actual British brand, but is also cheap and easy to find. The British blend is a round tea bag sans string and tag that brews a dark, strong brew that is perfect with milk and sugar. It may be to strong and bitter without those additions. While PG Tips may be the brand totted as the best tea (a brand I actually dislike; I find the smell and taste to be stinky and off) it is often hard to find and expensive; often over five dollars for a small box of 40 bags and found only at specialty grocers like Wegman’s. Tetley can be found everywhere from Walmart to your local grocer to drugstores; at my local Walmart I can purchase a box of 100 for under four dollars. But tea bags are often to personal taste so buy what you like best, but never Lipton; it is the worst.
Boiling water is very simple. If you have an electric kettle you should use it. Stovetop models often take a long time to boil and are impossible for a college student such as myself. I boil my water I the microwave; it takes less than three minutes (or more depending on model). Just make sure to start with cold, fresh water. Never re-boil old water; the oxygen content will be different.
I steep my tea for three minutes; it is the recommended amount of time on the tea box; but of course steep to taste. The original Tetley bags I’d steep for four to five minutes to get strong enough.
The last step after you fished out your tea bag from your mug is to add any additions you might like. While I like honey in my herbal teas, I like plain old granulated sugar in my black tea. I add a little less than a teaspoon per cup. I also like to add milk to my tea. I find 1% milk to be my favorite, but I have also used skim and 2% to satisfaction. I find whole milk and cream to be too strong for the tea. I add no set amount just a “splash” and I determine the desired amount by color. I like it to be a “wet sand” color; I can find no other way to describe it that would be more accurate. I guess you could call it a dark khaki or a medium tan.
That is how I brew myself a cup of tea! Next, I will talk about how I brew tea in a pot (which is actually quite different for me!)