Learn, learn, learn.
Practice, practice, practice.
Remember that nothing about "how to brew tea" is written in stone.
Taste is subjective and types of tea plentiful, so even with detailed instructions, it may take practice to get it right for you and for the various teas. But in the end you do have perfectly brewed tea, a memorable tea party, and a new hobby.
1. Bring fresh, cold water almost to a boil in a tea kettle on the stove.
2. In the meantime, measure out the tea: 1 teaspoon tea leaves (or 1 teabag) per cup of water. Every tea is different, calling for some experimentation.
3. Preheat the teapot by rinsing it with very hot water before adding the leaves. This is more important than you may think; it maintains the temperature in the pot, preparing the tea leaves so that the tea releases its full flavor when the water is poured over them.
4. Add the measured tea to the pre-warmed teapot. Smell the aroma already? That's good.
5. Pour the hot water over the tea. For black and oolong teas, let the water come to a full boil before pouring it into the teapot. Recommended brewing times:
6. Remove the leaves and serve. Some tea leaves can be used again, just let them steep a little longer each time.
Again, learn how to brew tea so that it's right for you, and right for the tea.
What To Serve in Tea:
Are you familiar with the old song lyrics, "If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal. If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel"? Oddly, it's the same with tea. If the tea is fine your options are limited, or should be. If the tea is poor, just do what you feel.
Though hotly debated, all the arguments for and against putting
milk, cream, sugar, and lemon in your tea are laid to rest by this one
point: Fine tea should be served without any additions (disguises), or why bother with fine tea? Naturally strong black teas are the exception, however. A small amount of milk may actually enhance the flavor of these.
The important thing is that you enjoy the tea. So with a nod to tradition, to the Victorian ladies, to other cultures, to connoisseurs, and to Great Party Recipes, serve what you and your guests will enjoy most.
Thankfully, the tea party recipes that go with tea are much less controversial than what goes in tea.