Nobody has ever asked the question “Do you want to grab some tea?”. No. You don’t grab tea. You look forward to it, for a couple of hours at least. You put the water to boil, maybe call a friend over. Talk a while, or just try to find something to do, because it feels the eternity before the water comes to a boil. Now, now for the best part – dropping in the leaves. Watch them slowly bloom, coloring the water and filling the room with heady scents. Perfect. Pour it in a cup, maybe two. Sit on your favorite chair, take that first sip. Feel the noisy world quieten for a few seconds, feel at peace.
No, you just can’t grab tea. Because a cup of tea is a ritual, an experience. Like Muriel Barbery says in The Elegance of the Hedgehog,
“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things”
Brewing tea and enjoying it, has very little to do with instructions; it is an art that is perfected with time and throwing your heart into it. But some directions could get you there faster. So here, we give you a basic technique to brew tea. And a few pointers to ensure you get the best out of every cup.
Classic Infusion – The most popular technique, the infusion marks the birth of tea preparation itself. Legends have it that Chinese emperor Shennong and his troops were travelling to a distant land, when he ordered some water to be boiled for him to drink. A leaf from a nearby shrub drifted and fell in and the Emperor unwittingly consumed it. On any given warm evening in China, something like this could have royally annoyed our Emperor and some poor sod would have died for his carelessness. But this wasn’t any given warm evening in China. This was the evening tea was discovered. The Emperor found the infusion highly invigorating and pleasant. Thus, tea and infusion was born. Thank god for both.Simple infusion works well for all teas. You can control the temperature and steeping time, so the tea will be of the strength you desire. Here is how you go about it.
Step 1: Heat water to desired temperature. Ensure the water isn’t boiling as very high temperatures can easily destroy the delicate notes in the tea. Place the tea leaves in a infuser.
Step 2: Pour the hot water over the tea leaves until they are submerged.
Step 3: Let it steep for the recommended time. Take care not to over-steep.
Step 4: Remove the tea leaves. Pour into a cup and enjoy.
After this point, you can sweeten your tea with sugar, cream or honey. or add a dash of lemon juice or mint for that extra flavor. But us being the purists that we are, recommend you to drink it plain. If not always, just try it plain once; you’ll be surprised how many layers are there to a cup of tea.
An old Dixie recipe, this technique works excellently for Iced tea. There is no heat involved and the liquor produced is extremely strong. A variety of ingredients can be added later, such as fresh fruits or fruit juices to enhance the flavor of tea. But do remember, sugar never completely dissolves in iced tea, so honey works better. Fun fact : Freshly prepared Iced tea has twenty times the antioxidants as its bottled counterparts.
Step 1: Drop loose tea leaves in a tall jar. Add a teaspoon extra than recommended quantity. (We used 6 teaspoons of tea leaves for 1 liter of water)
Step 2: FIll it with water. Cover the jar and leave it overnight (At least 8 hours). And if you leave it in the refrigerator, you can skip ice cubes and serve it straight.
Step 3: Strain the tea to remove leaves.
Step 4: Dilute it to desired strength. If you are adding honey, now is a good time.
Step 5: And this is the point where you can go crazy with your creativity. Add fresh cut fruits, or juices of citrus fruits like lemon, orange, etc. to make great mocktails. Garnish with discs of pineapple, rinds of lemon or sprigs of mint, so it looks just as good as it tastes.
Step 6: Serve with lots of ice.
P.S: The sweetened tea tastes pretty amazing even without all the window decorations. So in case you aren’t feeling up to it, just add some ice and honey and swig it. It will be just as refreshing.
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