November 26, 2008

Come inside, have a nice cuppa tea!

Posted in food tagged , , at 1:15 pm by allisonwonder

I needed a good cup of tea this morning. Not just a cup of tea- a good cup of tea. There’s a difference. If I’m out and about and I want a good one, I go to Tim Horton’s for a Steeped Tea (which I initially thought was just a marketing thing- isn’t all tea steeped?- but it really is better). Since I wasn’t going anywhere this morning, I had to make my own pot.

Here’s how I do it when I need good tea; please feel free to add your own tips in the comments!

– Start with the right pot. I like a heavy-ish ceramic pot, which holds heat nicely, but right now I’ve got a glass one. This one’s nice because it has an infuser for loose teas, but I don’t have any of those at the moment.

– The water you use is surprisingly important. It took me a few days at this house before I figured out that my tea tasted  terrible because of the tap water. It’s safe to drink, but it doesn’t taste great. I’m using filtered water now, and it’s making a huge difference. Water temperature is important, too, at both ends of the kettle. The water should be cold (or at least not hot) going into the kettle, and at a rolling boil coming out*. Why cold water? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because hot water out of the tap carries more foreign particles from the pipes… just take my word for it, OK?

– Obviously your choice of tea is very important, and totally up to you. Loose teas steep beautifully, if you have an infuser and don’t mind measuring. If I’m using tea bags (as I was this morning), it has to be Tetley Orange Pekoe for me. Don’t like Red Rose or Mother whatserface’s. That’s just personal preference. You generally get what you pay for with tea, though, and I’ve never found a good generic one.

– keep the pot warm while your tea is steeping. This is what tea cozies are for**- they’re not just for lookin’ all cute and grandma’s-kitcheny. I don’t have one, so I wrap a dish towel around the pot and drape another one over the top. This keeps the heat in the pot, soing its job, instead of escaping out into the air. Keep the pot warm after you’ve poured your first cup, too- re-heated tea isn’t good.

-Take the bags out when your tea is as strong as you like it- if you leave them in, they’ll continue steeping, and the tea will get too strong.

– as for what you put in your tea, that’s up to you. Put your milk and sugar (if that’s what you’re using) in the cup before you pour the tea; again, I have no idea why this makes a difference, but I think it does.

So there you have it- my technique for a great pot of tea. Not every pot has to be great, of course, but it sure is nice when your 3-year old has you up at 5:40 a.m…. again…


* This applies to black teas, like Orange Pekoe; green tea needs water that’s a little cooler, or it’ll burn and not taste as good as it should.

**as for toilet paper cozies, like the crocheted ones you can get at church bazaars… I have no idea what thet’s for, unless people are just embarrassed about the fact that they need toilet paper.



  1. J said,

    If you are really big on having hot tea, and keeping it hot, another idea is to condition (warm-up) the teapot and teacups with hotwater before you even step the tea… just like you need to do with a thermos.

  2. allisonwonder said,

    Thanks, J- I actually did that this morning, but I totally forgot to mention it!

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