Crafting the Perfect Cuppa
A Lesson in Loose Tea Leaf

The Simple Guide:

  1. Buy some good quality, loose tea and a strainer at
  2. Boil some water. Let it cool slightly.
  3. Put tea leaf in an empty cup or teapot.
  4. Add the hot water to the cup or teapot.
  5. Steep 3-5 minutes.
  6. Strain out the tea leaf and enjoy.

The Perfectionist's Guide:

Guard Thy Tea.

The enemies of tea leaf are heat, light, odors, and air. You can store tea leaf in a cool cabinet, so long as it has an airtight container. You also want to avoid storing it with anything that might alter the flavor. Strong spices, air fresheners, and mint are the worst offenders. (Smell is actually 90% of taste, so if your tea smells like mint, you will "taste" mint--even if the two never touch.)

Choose Thy Water.

Great tea starts with great water. You want fresh, flowing water-- the more oxygen bubbles, the better. Any water will do, although some recommend spring, filtered, or bottled water. If you use tap water, you might run the tap first to clear out any stale water from the pipes.

Prepare Thy Cup.

Ceramic or glass mugs are best, since some metals affect taste. Warm your cup with hot water, then empty it right before adding your tea leaf. Not only will the tea stay warmer, but it will brew better.

Choose Thy Weapon.

Milk: If you like milk in your tea, now is the time to put a little in the bottom of your cup, before you add the hot liquid. Pouring cool milk into hot tea can alter the milk proteins and change its taste.

Sweetener: Good tea doesn't necessarily need sweetener, since some say it dampens the taste. If you must, use sugar. White sugar works best for tea, especially dessert teas. With few exceptions, honey is for sore throats or herbal mixtures. Artificial sweeteners are for masochists.

Lemon: Should not be combined with milk. The acidity will curdle the milk. You will have cheese, not teas.

Add Thy Tea Leaf.

The amount of tea you use depends on how strong you want your beverage. The rule of thumb is one teaspoon of tea leaf per cup of water. You can also purchase a measuring spoon from Coy o'Teas to help solve the issue.

Add Thy Water.

Heat your water in a kettle or microwave until it just begins to boil, then immediately take it off the heat. Wait a few seconds, then add it to your prepared cup. Boiling the water too long will make it lose oxygen (read: tea flavor) and not boiling it at all won't brew your tea to the fullest.

Steep, Steep, Steep.

You now have 3-5 minutes* to do nothing. Do not stir. Do not dunk the tea-strainer. Do not mess with the tea. Yes, you want to, but you shouldn't. You can stir it once, then leave it be. After your time is up, you should remove the tea strainer or strain out the loose leaf; otherwise, the tea may become bitter (although some people like it that way).

* - Steep times: generally black tea steeps 3-5 minutes, herbal 5-10, and green 1-3.

Tea Party: some people choose to boil the water in a kettle, steep the tea in a separate teapot, then pour that into cups. It's a matter of personal taste, and how many dishes you want to wash.


©2005 A. M. Coy, All Rights Reserved. You may not copy this to your blog, website, or anywhere else without prior authorization of the creator.

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