I work from home on Fridays, and tea is my favorite Friday drink. In cool weather I make a pot of hot tea in the morning and put it in a thermos to keep my going all day. In hot weather I make it triple-strength and ice it. I select my tea based on my mood that day: smoky Lapsang Souchong for rainy days, a malty Assam when I have a lot of deep thinking to do, the fabulous Silvertip Oolong from Upton Tea Imports when I can celebrate a job well done.
I drink coffee in the car and when we are out and about for the simple reason that it is so hard to get a properly-made cup of tea if you don't make it yourself. Making a perfect cup of tea is not alchemy. Nobody is born with or without the talent to make tea. Here are a few simple rules:
- Know your tea. Different types of tea are at their best when prepared their way.
- Always use properly boiling water for black teas. The water from the coffee machine is seldom hot enough to extract all the flavor from these leaves. Green and Oolong teas work better with water a little off the boil.
- Don't overdo it. All the color, flavor, and caffeine come out in a very few minutes; after that you are only extracting more tannic acid. Tannic acid is great for tanning leather (or your tongue) but it only makes the tea bitter.
- You can make tea double to triple strength for dilution later either with hot or cold water. The hot water for dilution does not have to be boiling, because you already got the good stuff out of the leaves. When making a concentrate, be sure the leaves have room to expand.
- Respect your tea. If you make the tea properly and don't oversteep it, try it without milk and sugar. Milk and sugar may be necessary for tea that has had a tea bag sitting in it for 20 minutes, but properly-made tea is less bitter and may not need anything more. Your grandmother's way of making tea may be comforting, but dear ol' Gram probably did not have access to the fine leaf teas available to us today.