If you've ever sat down to a steamy cup of tea at a tea house and realized that it tastes infinitely better than the tea you brew yourself at home, you may need to hone your tea-making skills. Here are Bailey's secrets for a perfect cup of tea.
Instead of waiting for your tea kettle to scream, opt for cooler temperatures. "One of the biggest, most common mistakes made when steeping tea is using the wrong water temperature," says Bailey. "Only the toughest teas such as oolong and black tea can handle a full boil." The more fragile tea leaves from white teas and some others need a little less heat; boiling hot water will destroy some of these teas' complexity and can even result in a bitter drink. Bailey suggests reading a tea's steeping directions and follow them closely.
Even though water from your tap will suffice, better water will make a better cup of tea. Bailey recommends upgrading from tap water. "My other tea secret is to use mineral water," the tea expert shares. "If you don't have access to mineral water, filtered water is your next best choice. Using tap water to boil a fine tea is like flying coach to your honeymoon!"
Unless that hand-me-down cup you've had since college has serious sentimental value, Bailey suggests drinking your tea from a well-deserving cup. She explains: "Another great secret that I learned from the teterias was that in order to experience a fabulous teatime you must drink from a cup that turns you on. Whether it be visually enticing or simply a cup that you picked up from your travels to India, it's important to use the proper serve ware to uplift your soul." You won't find unattractive tea cups in reputable tea or coffee houses.
If you need a bit of sweet in your spot of tea, bypass the sugar bowl. "A great tip I learned from my mother is if you need to make your tea more sweet, use a spoonful of your favorite fruit preserves rather than sugar," Bailey shares. "Our favorite is rose petal preserves, which you may find in your local specialty food stores."
According to Bailey, many factors can contribute to a tea's quality deterioration: light, moisture, temperature and oxygen. However, the tea expert says loose leaf tea, when properly stored, will maintain its freshness for a long time. She suggests, "Store loose leaf tea in an airtight container placed in a cool, dry, dark location to maintain its quality; it will have a standard shelf life of about three years."
Making a great cup of tea may require a few changes in your tea routine, but the delicious results are worth it. And, best yet, by properly steeping your tea, you'll be able to optimally reap the drink's many health benefits with every sip.
Steeped tea isn't the only way to enjoy this super drink. Give these novel tea-rrific recipes a try.
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