Hello everyone – Fenrir here with another tasty addition of Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them! If you live out here on the East Coast (Like I do) you might have noticed that it’s gotten a bit nippy around here — I’m certainly suffering for not dressing warmly enough with a sore throat and a cold. But, there is always a bit of a silver-lining to everything–even a passing cold!–and that silver-lining usually manifests itself in the form of some sort of hot drink.
Now I could turn to some soup for comfort, or maybe even a cup of hot chocolate, or some butter-beer, to warm up from the inside out but I think to combat the remains of this cold I should consult a “healthier” alternative. So today we’re going to be talking about tea and how to brew a perfect cup each and every time you need one!
There is nothing quite like a warm cup of tea–a treat that has become synonymous with (English) tea-parties and perhaps the wise-mentor-figure archetype, with well-beloved characters ranging from Uncle Iroh to Professor Layton always ready to wax poetic about something or other with a nice cup of tea in hand. And it’s quite frankly one of the best ways to chase away a cold, or the cold, depending on what you’re suffering from.
But alas, there is a right and a wrong way to brew tea — which is a conundrum that most people don’t lose sleep over. But, I do believe there are times when just the right amount of fuss can lead to a rewarding experience, and you can, in many ways, do yourself a little favor by striving to create a good cup of strong tea.
If anything – it’d be a fun skill-set to have – who knows when you’ll need to impress a love-interest with your tea-making prowess!
How to improve the way you make tea:
- You will need either loose-leaf tea or bagged tea
- A tea pot or a mug
- A kettle to boil water in
- Any extras you’d like to add in: sugar, milk, honey, etc.
1. Okay first boil up your water in your kettle, make sure that you have more than enough water — you’ll be using some of it to warm up the vessels you’ll be serving your tea in.
2. Pre-heat the vessel. So you might not have considered it the times you’ve made tea before, but heat up your vessel until it’s warm and pour out the hot water and put on a tea cozy (For a pot) or just a napkin on top to keep it warm.
3. Put your tea/tea bag into your vessel! Kind of a no-duh here, but the strength of the tea will definitely depend on how much tea you put in. Generally think of one-two heaping teaspoons per cup of tea you intend to make. So if you’re going to serve four people out of your tea pot, then plop down four-five heaping teaspoons.
4. Add your hot water over your tea. Make sure you put the tea into the bottom before you add the hot water on top — even with tea-bags. Also note your water temperatures for the kind of tea you’re using! Just as a quick and easy reference:
- White or green teas need water below boiling; you want it hot but not scalding hot. The first puff that your teakettle whistles is a good sign
- Black tea like an English breakfast can use a rolling boil
- Oolong teas are in-between a green tea and a black tea in terms of ideal temperature
- Tea-bags should not be put into boiling water, but make sure it’s warm enough!
5. Let it steep for about three-five minutes before you start digging in.
6. Serve with extra sweeteners or milk if you like; obviously don’t do so with green-tea but well, everyone has their preferences.
Now if that seemed like too much work for a cup of tea (Which it really isn’t, trust me) here’s another trick I’ve been using ever since I learned about the “allnighter” in highschool and couldn’t make too much noise in the kitchen:
The microwave tea bag trick:
Of course, sometimes you want your tea fix now or maybe you don’t have the time to invest in fiddly tea-infusers or a tea-kettle. And that’s okay, because as long as you have a mug and a tea bag of some sort you can have tea in a few minutes. I believe I saw the esteemed Alton Brown demonstrate this technique once on his show, Good Eats, so uh, this might not necessarily be tea-time blasphemy but whenever you need that tea-fix and are pressed for time, this certainly does work:
All you need is the mug of your choice, a tea bag, and a microwave. Place tea bag in your mug, pour enough cold water as you like, then set into the microwave for 2-3 minutes and you’re done. It’s not perfectly brewed tea, but it gets the job done when you’re in a pinch for something hot.
I also only recommend using this trick for English breakfast teas or other teas that won’t turn bitter after some rough/high temperature treatment and again, make sure it’s bagged tea for easy removal from your mug and because it’s never a good idea to put a metallic tea infuser into the microwave.
And here are a few more tips and tricks…
1. I can’t stress this enough: Green teas and black teas require different temperatures to steep. When dealing with green tea – do not pour boiling hot water over it.
It’s something that I don’t think a lot of people think about when brewing up their own tea, but water temperature is essential to controlling the taste. Too cold and the tea won’t steep well, too hot and you might have something comfortingly warm but utterly bitter. And that is especially true about green tea, which shouldn’t be treated to boiling hot water — you essentially burn up the leaves and are left with a very bitter taste.
From loose green tea to even the green tea packets, restraint is probably your best bet so when you set your water to boil for a cup of green tea turn it off at the first whistle, wait a few moments (Like maybe 2-3 minutes), then pour over your loose tea/tea packet. For a black tea like an English breakfast you should let the water go on for a full boil. But in general, a green tea does not require boiling water, just warm enough to let the tea leaves steep!
2. Store your tea-bags with the same care as you would your loose-leaf teas. While we may take tea-bags for granted they do go stale eventually, so whenever you buy yourself a box treat it with the same respect you would an expensive tin of loose-leaf tea and store them both in an airtight container in a place that is a constant temperature away from the light. Basically, any kitchen cabinet will do nicely for your tea which should either be packed in tightly in a tin or closed in its box, but also make sure you use it! Tea won’t last forever, yanno.
3. Serve your tea with snacks ranging from cakes to sandwiches or well, just about anything really. Oolong tea is my go-to drink whenever dim sum food marathonin, or some milky-sweet red tea with a seed cake. Tea and food combinations are endless, but as a general rule serve a “strong” tea with food that can hold up to it; I wouldn’t necessarily pair a light-as-air angel food cake with my usual English breakfast, but definitely it goes nice with a normal pound cake.
4. Definitely serve your tea with optional milk, honey, sugar, and lemon — but be smart about which additives you put in at the same time.
It’s no secret that I am a milk-tea lover and that I do prefer a strong black tea over a green tea when given the choice. I think it’s because of all the neat little additions that don’t necessarily work when added to green teas or the slightly lighter teas (Although a green tea latte on the other hand is a whole other post entirely)
Anyway, when dealing with a nice cup of tea and those optional ingredients though, there is a bit of planning to consider before you dump everything in.
- When adding milk to tea, it’s generally a better idea to put the milk in first and then the tea on top. This way the milk is warmed gradually instead of scalded immediately by hot tea. And while we’re on the topic of heat, and milk…
- Don’t mix lemon with milk – which will create a nasty curdling affect when the acid meats the milk and meats the heat and yeah. It’s gross. I’ve tried it.
- If you’re a sweet milk-tea fan, try adding some condensed milk into your tea. Okay yes this sounds like tea blasphemy but it’s a treat over in the part of Asia I’m from (And it’s not the craziest tea combination, trust me), and although condensed milk is far from the healthiest of canned foods out there, it’s a pleasant surprise to the monotony of sugar or honey and as a very once-in-awhile treat covers both the tasks of adding something sweet and milky to your tea!
5. And while I can’t speak for everyone, especially those of you with a sweet tooth, I’d advise on holding out a bit on the sugar — at least once in awhile. Tea is a bit of an experience, one that I personally liken to wine-tasting, so when trying out new teas why not give it a go unsweetened or as plain as possible to appreciate the actual taste of tea before dumping in all the extra fixin’s.
Also not sure where to start when it comes to purchasing tea? Or maybe want something beyond the typical “green” and “black”? For all you fandom-seekers and tea lovers out there, there’s great news for you — fandom tea has become a thing and yes, whatever your heart desires, you’re more likely to find them, especially over here at adagio.com. From Dragon Age (Like this Fenris inspired blend) to The Avengers (Like this Loki blend), you can pick up your very own fandom blend of tea to keep you peppy and to test your new tea-making prowess on.
Also hey this may make a pretty good holiday gift idea haha
Anyhow that’s all there is to it for this addition of Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them — stay toasty folks and stay warm, either with a lovely pot of tea or some other hot beverage! Annnnd of course, tune in next time for another exciting fantastic feast!