Just How You Like It: Tips for Making the Perfect Cup of Tea

For many people, drinking tea is one of the great pleasures of life. What’s better than an invigorating cuppa in the morning or afternoon? Connoisseurs claim that the heartbreak of making tea and enjoying is that most people don’t really know how to do it. It’s more than just hot leaf juice — creating the perfect cup of tea is a form of art.


Tea comes in a multitude of flavors. Some people are particular about the flavor of the tea. They may swear by Lady Grey with its bouquet of bergamot while that tin of lapsang souchong, which many find harsh and smoky, sits unused in the cupboard next to the tin of white tea, which they deem too weak. Other people can’t start their day without their lapsang souchong. In some families, one person likes the robust Prince of Wales tea, and the other needs green tea. For other folks, they’ll like dry, gentle Darjeeling tea in the morning but orange pekoe in the afternoon. Since there must be hundreds of varieties of teas, you should take some time to find the right flavor for you.


It is a wonder that humans haven’t started wars over which temperature is perfect for tea. Many people simply allow the water to come to the boil and immediately pour it over the tea whether it’s loose or in a bag or a tea ball. The reasoning behind this is to use water that is good and hot but hasn’t had all the oxygen boiled out of it. Tea enthusiasts can actually taste the difference when varying temperatures of water are used to brew tea. As with anything hot, enjoy your cup of tea with a side of caution as hot liquids can lead to serious burns, so be extra careful. Ideally, you should wait until the temperature of the tea drops to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit before drinking. If it falls below 113 degrees F, you might as well toss the tea and start over if you are trying to brew the perfect cup.


It is true that lots of people just grab their favorite mug, add a teabag then add milk, boiling water and sugar. But the equipment that is used is part of the fun and ritual of tea drinking. Traditionally, a person uses a teapot made of fine china and swirls it with hot water first so that the tea isn’t shocked. The best teacup and its matching saucer and a pretty teaspoon also add to the elegance and pleasure of drinking tea.

As practitioners of cha-no-yu (the Japanese tea ceremony) understand, drinking tea should not be hurried. It should not be gulped down on the way out the door when a person is late for work, and it’s no good at keeping a student up at night to cram for an upcoming exam. The essence of tea drinking is gentleness, patience, and enjoyment.

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