Brewing a Better Cup of Tea
By Barbara Bell, Tea Master
The custom of drinking tea has a long history in China. According to Chinese legend, Shennong, the legendary Emperor of China and inventor of agriculture, brewed the first cup of tea when dried leaves drifted from a nearby bush and landed in his cup of hot water. He found the fragrance enchanting, took a sip and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor and refreshing properties. Shennong discovered tea almost 5,000 years ago; today tea is the world’s most popular beverage.
Here are a few tips and tricks to brewing a better cup of tea:
Recycle your old tea. Yes, tea does have a shelf life. That tin of tea you bought at Harrods in 1995 is past its prime. Toss the tea leaves on your garden and keep the tin as a memory of your London experience, or better yet, fill it with new tea. Old tea won’t hurt you, but it will taste flat and flavorless.
Invest in a kettle. Let’s get down to basics – if you want to make good tea, you have to have a proper kettle. Microwaves are not meant for brewing tea. You can invest as little as $20 for a simple electric kettle, or pick up a Zojurishi that sells for around $100 and doubles as a kettle and teapot, and allows you to preset desired water temperatures. A good kettle will change your life.
Filter your water. It boils down to this – get the chlorine and iron out of your water. A simple countertop filter pitcher such as a Brita will suffice. Avoid bottled distilled water because it has no minerals – and most spring waters because they have too much mineral content. Bottles marked as drinking water usually have the best balance of minerals for tea.
Barbara Bell is the owner of Raintree Wellness Spa in Richmond, B.C., Canada