Tea is the ultimate beverage denoting relaxation and hi-end living.
The beverage that conjures images of a delicate porcelain tea pot full of deep, dark, aromatic tea leaves steeping in hot water.
A beautiful silver sieve nestled in its stand ready to have the tea poured through its porous holes. The clinking of a delicate cup and saucer accompanied by a small jug of steamed milk frothed to the perfect temperature so as to maintain the adequate tea temperature.
All of this accompanied by scrumptious delicacies such as a warm scone with a grainy raspberry jam and fresh whipped cream, inch-long thick cucumber sandwiches and pastries light enough to float in air, in the midst of hushed, whispered, intellectually stimulating conversations. This is true tea!
Now picture this: a loud coffee shop with a heavy-handed robust Barista shouting in a hoarse voice, “One grande, non-fat, soy masala chai tea latte, no foam, 70 degrees for……..”
Gossshhhhhh….it is an assault on my delicate sensibilities and should be for yours too as we have elegance and finesse. Tea cannot be categorized in terms of robustness and size. I mean, compare a tiny 250 ml cup of tea to a 16 ounce tea concoction. Compare a delicate cucumber sandwich to an extra large lard and sugar laden scone weighing almost a pound. And what the hell is “chai-tea”? CHAI IS TEA!!!!!! It is akin to saying “TEA TEA” or “COFFEE COFFEE.”
Of course, I have the karmic bad luck of perpetually getting a Barista for whom tea is as foreign a concept as monogamy is to Mormons. If I ask for a small tea, so as not to dilute the extra small tea bag in the pool full of water, I always end up getting the largest cup with a sorry little tea bag floating in it. If I ask for steamed milk in my tea, I get a tea milk shake. If I ask for extra hot, I get a tepid warm concoction that feels like the tepid temperatures of a pedicure bowl. I am sick and tired of paying in excess of $4.00 U.S. dollars for a liquid that I end up chucking.
So, I am taking the bull by the horns and sharing how to make real tea…and no you don’t call it “chai-tea” as it is stupid. No you don’t use extra large glasses as it dilutes the tea and no you don’t put half and half in tea as it is not a milk shake.
Making a perfect cup of Tea:
- Warm the tea pot first with hot water to maintain the temperature.
- Use high quality loose leaf black tea. I myself prefer a blend of teas such as Darjeeling, Assam, and Orange Pekoe. You decide and make combinations for yourself. Please don’t tread in the green, matcha, sencha tea zones. Let’s leave the trendy stuff for another time.
- Use one teaspoon of loose tea per person, plus one for the pot.
- Use absolutely fresh “boiling” water and do not re-boil water. Don’t be scared to let the water boil to a “rolling boil.”
- Pour water in the tea pot and brew for 3-5 minutes. Let the tea leaves steep in the water to get the full flavor and quality of the tea. Longer brewing will result in a bitter tasting tea as tannins will be released.
- Make sure you pour the water over the tea and not the other way round.
- Stir the tea in the pot once or twice while it is brewing.
- If you have one, cover the tea with a tea cozy to keep it warm and add panache to the tea ritual. My grandmother had beautifully embroidered tea cozies she used…
- Warm the tea cups with hot water and pour the tea through a sieve into the cups. Don’t drink tea in a mug…please!!
- Steam some milk and add milk and sugar to taste. Honey is not used in British style tea.
You will become a connoisseur in tea, another step in living life elegantly! And, please do me a favor and never ever call it chai-tea!!
I leave you with this quote: “Tea…is a religion of the art of life.” Okakura