How to Make a Cup of Tea
There are endless good things you can say about teas. The important and beneficial properties of tea have been recognized a few thousand years ago and today scientific research is still finding more to add to the wonder list. For a long time Chinese have come to understand that drugs are medicines for particular disease, while tea is the medicine for all health problems.
So, tea is very important for our lives. But do you know how to make a cup of tea? Not all can say yes.
Yes, anybody can make a cup of tea, but the results may be as different as different can be.
We are not talking about the tea ceremony that may take hours for a sip, that may involve different tools to hold, handle, grind, steep and filter the tea, boiling the water, wash and warm up the cup, etc, etc. Even the towel to wipe the hand and mouth has to be of some special make.
Different needs require different basic utensils. For a group a big kettle is needed for the simple reason of quantity, and for just a few or one individuals, it requires just a small kettle, or just a small cup. A keen connoisseur may use a clay pot specifically made for this.
All these are normal and legal, if you have the means and leisure, it is a very soul purifying exercise to enjoy a cup of tea in style.
But this article intends only to make a modest contribution: to provide a basic way of making a simple cup of the wonderful brew.
What Do I Need?
Simple. You just need hot water, a clean cup and some tea. Yes, you read right!
How much tea should I use?
There are numerous teas and each tea is different. In most cases a flat spoonful is suggested, which I you really want to count the tealeaves, may be around 50 tealeaves. Few Orientals really take the trouble to count. Since they have done it since they could remember, they have already been experts in doing it. If you know what is tea and how it tastes, it does not matter if it is a little too much. Simply adding water is the solution!
Gourmet tea drinkers seldom use teabags. They do not have to. Some teabags are made of bleached paper and even metal staple to attach the string for easy handling. Chlorine and metal contamination may either make the tea taste strange, but also get into your system. Happily for people who insist on using tea bags, some companies do not use bleached paper and the string is hard pressed onto the bags.
Some teas are a little more bitter and if you do not like it (real tea drinkers may even like the bitterness.), use less tea.
How hot should the water be?
Again we have to say that all teas are different. Some teas may even have to be hard boiled as in the case of brick tea that is made of course tealeaves with some twigs. Pastoral communities prefer this tea to help digest milk products and meat. Some teas need hotter water and longer diffusion to be ready. In most cases with average tea, especially green tea, you may use boiling water or wait a little bit until the water temperature goes down to 80 (for most green teas) to 90 (for black teas) degrees centigrade. Not to use water that is too hot is to keep the natural flavor of the tea or the jasmine in it. Lower water temperature has to need longer time.
How much time does it need before I can sip?
The general rule is, when it is not too hot for your lips and tongue. One of the reasons Chinese traditional tea cups were made without a handle is a precaution so that when your hand feels the cup too hot it seldom put it to your mouth to get you scorched. Normally it takes about 3-5 minutes for the good stuff to come out of the leaves.
Do I need a strainer?
Orientals feel amused to see other people use strainers and take so much trouble to avoid getting tealeaves into the mouth. It is true that some oriental teapots have smaller outlet to keep the tealeaves in the pot. But that is all they have to do. When tealeaves get into the mouth, they simply chew them up and swallow! It is not a horrible act since tealeaves are also used as a vegetable. Some high class Chinese dishes are made with tea leaves, either for their nutrition or their flavor, or both.
How much should I drink a day?
Orientals may drink tea all day long, not strong tea though.
Should I throw away the tea after I finish drinking the water?
For most black teas, you may throw away the tea when you finish drinking the water in the cup. But for most of other teas, you may have several refills with the same tea or teabag, especially for medicinal teas to take full advantage of the medicinal properties.
How about the caffeine in the tea?
Generally speaking the little caffeine in the tea is too little to cause problems unless you are very sensitive to it. On the contrary, it may do us good. However, if you want to have caffeine-free tea, you can throw out the water after half a minute and the second fill is virtually caffeine-free.
How about medicinal teas?
For most herb or medicinal teas, it is better to use real hot water and brew a little longer since different parts of various herbs are used, some a roots, some are stems, some tubers, some leaves and flowers and full diffusion time can be quite different. Most medicinal teas are made with tea bags. If you need to use a few a day, you need not throw the tea bags away after the first fill. The second fill can be quite strong and good stuff tends to come out even in the third fill.
Can I mix different medicinal teas together?
In most cases, yes. Sometimes you need to avoid putting medicinal teas of different nature together. For instance, if you are taking cough fighting medicinal tea, you should better avoid strong tonics as Korean ginseng, because in many cases the herbs used in cough remedies, are cold in nature and ginseng is considered hot and it puts stress on your weakened system.
Can I drink herb teas with black tea or green tea?
Mostly, yes. Many medicinal teas are made with some green tea or black tea for desired results. Health King Brand medicinal teas are mostly made with some tender tealeaves and jasmine flower except a few that are not such as Chrysanthemum Vascuflow Herb Tea, Cholesterol Guard Herb Tea, etc.
Traditionally Chinese herb doctors did not want their patients to take green tea or black tea in fear that they may interfere with the medicinal functions of the herbs. But for every day medicinal herb teas, such avoidance may not be necessary, especially if properties of the medicinal herbs and their relationship with teas are well researched. After all traditional Chinese medicine maintains that herbs (drugs) are medicine for particular diseases, and tea is for all (diseases).