You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~ CS Lewis
So. When I was getting ready to switch my blog over back in September/October, I was thinking of some features that I wanted to do on a semi-regular basis.
One of the ideas I had was for a feature called “High Tea & Fantasy” combining two of the things I love most. You should be able to figure out what they are. 😉
My intention is to have this feature show up every couple of months, and I’ll have a book I’ve chosen to feature (usually high fantasy, but there might be some other things thrown in occasionally) and a tea. Possibly a snack type thing as well. Like scones. Or cookies. Recipes will be included.
Sometimes there will be giveaways. But this completely depends on my budget.
But I felt like I needed to do a basic introduction to, say, tea, because so many people don’t know how to enjoy a good cup of it.
Tea really isn’t that complicated, but there’s one thing you don’t do with most teas (there are a few exceptions).
You do not just throw a random tea bag in a mug, pour boiling water over it, and let it brew for 10 minutes before you throw some sort of sweetener in it and start drinking. Without removing the tea bag.
That is how I used to drink tea (coughLiptoncough) when I first discovered the wonders of tea. It’s okay to start there, but please don’t stay there, because you have no idea what you’re missing.
The tea most people are familiar with is simple black tea. This is what restaurants make iced tea from, what you’ll usually get if you ask for hot tea at an IHOP (If you’re lucky, they might also have chamomile or another herbal variety. Sometimes they have Earl Grey or Darjeeling. But not often.), and what is easiest to find at, say, Walmart.
Many places have upped their ‘tea game’ in recent years, but finding good quality tea locally can still be a challenge for many people.
However, as long as you know how to brew a ‘proper’ cup or pot of tea (I use this term loosely, because I very rarely brew it ‘properly’.), the quality of tea can be very forgiving.
There’s three things to keep in mind when you brew a cup of tea:
The type of tea.
The more common types of tea that you’re likely to find on the shelf at a local supermarket are going to be things like white tea, green tea, black tea, and herbal teas (herbal teas are actually tisanes, but we’re going to skip the etymology lesson for now).
There’s a few other types of teas you’ll run across, but you’ll have to actually be looking in tea stores most of the time to do so.
White and green teas are the most delicate ones. It’s easy to ruin them if you brew them wrong.
Black teas (including varieties like chai, Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, and Darjeeling) are incredibly easy to over brew.
Herbal teas are the most forgiving.
The temperature of the water.
That thing I just said about the type of tea?
You need to know that so you can use the correct water temperature.
The only teas that require boiling water are black and herbal – and even then there are exceptions.
White and green tea brew best with temperatures less than boiling – closer to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, or less.
The length of time to brew it.
Remember when I mentioned up there how I used to drink tea, before I started really exploring tea?
Yeah. I would often notice that there was a bitter taste to it, especially the longer it sat in the cup. Turns out that’s a thing that happens when you… brew tea too long.
Once again, some teas are more forgiving of this, and herbal teas aren’t really affected by this principle at all. The bitter taste doesn’t bother some people (coughMichellecough). But if you’ve noticed the bitter taste, you might try brewing your tea for 4 or 5 minutes, instead of 10… or 20. 😀
Also, some teas are meant to be brewed multiple times. Especially white and green ones.
More About Tea…
Everything I’ve said above is just a guideline, by the way. If you like to brew your black tea for half an hour before you drink it, more power to you. I don’t understand, but I won’t call you any less of a tea lover.
I don’t really understand the people who say that re-boiled water makes tea less flavorful, either. If you don’t like re-boiled water, that’s fine, but it seems a waste to me on my meager budget.
Yes, this post was really an excuse to rant and rave about tea. But I am not, by any means, the know-it-all when it comes to this subject.
So here’s a few of my favorite brands of tea, and what they have to say about the subject of, well… tea.