Now that the weather has turned chilly, the hot drink of the moment is, indeed, a hot drink: Tea!
And I'm going to tell you everything you need to know to brew the perfect cup.
Coffee, Tea, or . . . ?
First, you need to understand the five types of tea, one of which isn’t a traditional tea at all!
The first four types are made from the evergreen plant Camellia Sinensis. What differentiates individual teas are the processing methods. Black tea, for example, is fully fermented. Green tea is not fermented at all.
Because the fifth type of tea, the tisane, is not made from this evergreen plant (it is, instead, made from ingredients ranging from cinnamon to chamomile), tisanes are actually herbal infusions.
And, to make matters more interesting, all teas can be blended and flavored.
Party of Five
So let’s look at the five types of tea.
First, we have the classic black tea. Liquid comfort for Englishmen worldwide, black teas range from the spicy Yunnan to the smooth Ceylon to my personal favorite, Earl Grey.
Oolong teas, such as the gently fruity Formosa Oolong, and white teas, such as the delicate White Peony, tend to be mellower than black teas. Ranging from the clean-tasting Gunpowder to the spicy Sencha, green teas are perfect for a late night Chinese take out pour deux.
And tisanes, which are lovely for a late night sip, range from mint to lemon ginger.
The Perfect Cuppa
So how do you make a pot of tea? It’s just five easy steps: Heat fresh water, preheat your pot (fill with hot water, wait a few minutes, then discard), add your tea, add your heated water, steep, and enjoy.
It’s as easy as that.
For the best tasting tea, use cold water, use one teaspoon of loose tea (or one single-serving bag) per person plus one for the pot, and steep only as long as the tea instructions state (steeping too long results in a bitter, not stronger, cup).
And, if you use loose tea and want to keep those pesky leaves out of your cup, either use a pot with an infuser or a removable infuser.