I'm starting to feel like the caffeine in black tea is actually more potent than the caffeine in the french-press coffee that I make every morning. Either that, or my body is getting too used to the coffee! I've started changing it up, and making pots of tea instead (which just happens to be healthier!) And oh boy, I feel like my mother after a decaf cappuccino after 3pm...up all night.
Click below to read how to brew the perfect cup of tea:
First, start with your favorite loose tea. I'm using Taylors of Harrogate's English Breakfast Leaf Tea, which I was given as a wedding gift. It is very bold & lovely. Another great one (with fabulous styling) is Bellocq Teas in Greenpoint, New York. My teapot is the glass Bodum Assam Tea Press, available at Crate & Barrel.
The old tried & true rule for the amount of tea per pot is "one teaspoon per cup, and one for the pot" but it is also important to examine what type of tea you are making, and how you are planning to drink it. If you are brewing a heavy, black tea, and are planning to drink it without accompaniment, sometimes it's best to hold off on the extra teaspoon. If you are drinking tea directly out of the steeping pot, that's another good reason to only do one teaspoon per cup, as the tea will end up steeping for much longer. If you are planning on adding milk to your black tea, then one extra teaspoon is preferable to maintain flavor. It is really up to you and your taste.
After putting your tea in the pot, pour hot water over the top of it, and into the steeping pot. The water should be hot and beginning to boil, but not in a rolling boil. This will scorch your tea leaves.
You will find the perfect steep time is dependent on the type of tea you are making. Chinese black teas tend to do best with longer steeping times (around 4-5 minutes), as green blends (with flowers or rice) do better with shorter steeping times (around 2-3 minutes). I steeped my black tea for about 4 minutes.
After steeping time is through, press the plunger all the way down to stop steeping, or remove your steeper if you are using a different type of pot. I find that tea stays much hotter when placed in a warmed ceramic or porcelain teapot. Glass tends to cool quickly, so I placed warm/hot water in my vintage, porcelain tea pot while making the tea, removed it and poured the tea directly into it. This is also handy when you want to have people over for a classy tea!
Add a sweet tea towel and a pretty tea cup, and voila! Tea time! If you are a fan of a splash of milk (or sugar) in your tea, it will add body to a full, black tea. Traditionally, African and Chinese black teas are served without milk, and Indian and Sri Lankan teas are served with! The British and Americans are the only people that add sugar. However, milk and sugar should never be added to green teas or herbal teas (if you're following the rules, that is). Honey is the only exception.