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How to make a nice cup of tea

Release date:2014-09-28

There rules, combining the best of East and West, are in general applicable to all kinds of green, black or oolong tea.

1.Use fresh cold water. Let the cold tap run for awhile first to avoid flat-tasting water(and also to avoid lead that have dissolved into it while standing in the pipe). For this same reason, never make tea with water from the hot tap. (For more on water, see below.)    

2. While the water is heating, get the tea things ready. A small pot is preferable to a large one, as the amount of boiling water used in a large one may "stew" the leaves and result in flat-tasting tea.Warm the pot (of pottery or other ceramic material ) by rinsing it with hot water. If you wish, you can measure the rinse water in by cupfuls, so you will know just how far up to fill the pot when you actually make the tea. (This gauging won't be necessary after you become familiar with your teapot.)

3. Just before the water in the kettle boils, empty the teapot and add tea. For each cup use one teaspoonful of tea or one tea bag. For more than six cups, add an extra spoon "for the pot." If tea bags are used, they should be placed on the bottom of the pot so the water can hit them with full force. Some people use a perforated metal infuser or tea ball in a pot or mug, but connoisseurs frown on this, maintaining that the infuser prevents the water from fully saturating the leaves (this is also the criticism of tea bags, but their convenience may win out). If an infuser is used, it should be no more than half full of leaves to allow room for them to expand. 

4. Some people prefer water at a rolling boil. The air bubbles in it help spread out the tea leaves so that the water can get to them better. Others prefer it just before the full boil, when bubbles begin to rise, particularly for green tea. British wisdom teaches: Take the teapot to the water kettle, never the other way round-this applies to black tea, not green tea, which does not require as much heat. An optional step before adding boiling water to tea is called "rinsing the tea leaves." It is mandatory in making Gongfu tea, but can improve any type except broken black tea. (Rinsing releases the compounds in the broken tea too rapidly, harming the flavor.) After the tea leaves have been added to the pot, pour in a little boiling water and drain it off immediately.

5. Finally, pour boiling water into the pot to the desired level and cover. British style is to keep the pot warm with a padded tea cosy, but the Chinese avoid this practice, feeling that it causes the leaves to stew, making them bitter and putting the chemical elements out of balance. If high-grade green tea is used, authorities from the Chinese Agricultural Institute advise leaving the lid off the pot, for these teas are easily stewed.

6. Let the tea stand. The best tea is made by infusing for a short time rather than steeping for a longer period. Three to five minutes is recommended, with the shorter time preferred. A kitchen timer is handy for this. Curled leaves take longer than flat ones and probably will need the full five minutes. Three is enough for most other teas. Very fine tea needs an extremely short time. Do not infuse any tea longer than five minutes, or it will become bitter. A longer time is not necessary, as the flavor and the tannin come out early in the infusion. A shorter time also reduces the caffeine. About three-fourths of the caffeine comes out in a five-minute infusion. Make time and not color your gauge of when the tea is ready, because color is not a good gauge of flavor. If you want stronger tea, use more leaves, not more time. The color comes out very quickly in black tea. Green tea should never get dark. 

 7. Rinse cups with hot water. If you use milk with black tea, now is the time to pour it into the cup. British tea drinkers swear by this. "Scalding " the milk with the hot tea gives it a particular desired flavor, they say. Another less poetic reason for putting milk in first is offered by none other than Samuel H.G. Twining, ninth generation of the family whose company supplies tea to the British crown: milk keeps the hot tea from cracking delicate porcelain cups. Never use cream. The tannin causes cream to curdle. Milk is never used with green tea, but sometimes with oolong. 

8. Before pouring, stir the tea or shake the pot and then let the leaves settle. Pour into cups through a tea strainer. Green tea is of course taken without anything in it. If lemon and sugar are used with black tea, put the sugar in first, so it can dissolve well. 

9. Strain off any tea left in the pot into another warmed pot, and cover with the tea cosy. Don't let the tea stand with the leaves in longer to make it darker.

10. The second infusion. Opinions differ on this according to the kind of tea and the authority. Many people say the second infusion is the best. In China, green tea drinkers start the day with some leaves in the bottom of their covered mugs and keep adding water before the cup is completely empty. Black and oolong teas can stand up through more infusions than green tea. 

11. Never use tea that has stood overnight. Researchers at the Fujian province Chinese Medicine Research Institute found that while fresh green and oolong tea lowered incidence of lung cancer in rabbits, green tea that had stood overnight increased it.


Use 50 percent more tea to allow for melting ice, the Tea Council of the USA recommends (three tea bags or spoonfuls for two glasses of iced tea ). They give a recipe for two quarts: Bring one quart (4 cups) of water to boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add 15 tea bags or 1/3 cup loose tea. Stir, let stand five minutes. Keep at room temperature and pour over ice when ready to serve. The Tea Council also offers a cold water method for a quart of "clear, cloudless iced tea ": Soak 8 or 10 tea bags 6 hours or overnight in a quart of cold tap water (in room or refrigerator). Then remove the bags and squeeze them against the sides of the container. To serve, pour into ice-filled glasses. No information is available on the chemical content of a glass of tea made this way. We prefer to sacrifice clear tea to safe tea and a guarantee of conventional flavor.


 Being instant is definitely this tea's advantage. The Tea Council advises following directions on the label, or in general, one level teaspoon instant tea to a teacup of boiling water, and 2 level tablespoons for each quart in a pot. For instant iced, I rounded teaspoon for a glass (6-8 ounces) of cold water or 2 rounded tablespoons for each quart of fresh cold water.


Most real tea connoiseurs won't touch a tea bag, feeling it's not the Real Thing. The tea inside the tea bags does not consist of leaves but of the finest siftings, called "dust," so that the infusion is prompt. We find them expensive and wasteful, for they may produce tea that is either too strong or too much, and keeping a tea bag around for reuse is a messy business. Fine tea goes further when you can control exactly how much you use. However, tea bags are convenient. Almost every kind of tea, including most Chinese varieties, is available in bags.


The quality of water will affect the way the tea leaf components dissolve into the beverage, and therefore its quality. Lu Yu said spring water was best, followed by river water, and then well water. The amount of minerals in the water seems to have been a consideration. The problem is that nowadays it's practically impossible to find such "natural " water that is unpolluted, and tap water is frequently highly chlorinated. Various types of bottled spring water, now available everywhere, can yield satisfactory results. We recommend experimenting to find the best water. 


Three grams, or one teaspoonful, is the usual amount of dry leaves per cup. Both Chinese and American sources agree that a pound of tea makes about 200 cups. An ounce of instant makes 40 servings.