How to brew tea?
Ask this question to a true tea connoisseur and he will tire you with an endless story about the stages of boiling water and methods of putting tea leaves into a teapot with special circular motions.
In fact all these fine details that turn a rather simple task of brewing tea into a long and complicated procedure contribute to the improvement of tea flavour so little that only professional tea tasters can discern the difference. To enjoy your cup of tea it is enough to follow just several simple yet important rules.
As it is known water boils at 100°С. However, this is not an instant process because the lower layers of water in a kettle are heated faster. Small bubbles appear in these layers that together with the hot water rise to the surface and mix with the upper "colder" layers of water. At this stage a kettle usually produces quite a lot of noise or "sings".
The Chinese call this state of boiling water "white spring". The "white spring" water at the temperature of 85-90°С is optimal for brewing tea. At the same time one should remember that green tea is more sensitive to water temperature than black tea which you can brew after boiling water in you kettle (it is enough just to cool it down a bit).
At this point it should also be noted that in many places it is not recommended to drink tap water. So if you plan to brew tea with "white spring" you should first get bottled drinking water (obviously it should not be either mineral or sparkling water).
Dry Tea Leaves
The following rule is generally accepted regarding the amount of dry tea leaves that should be put into a brewing pot: one teaspoon per cup and an additional one "for the brewing pot". It is also worth mentioning that if you brew tea for quite a few people and plan to add some water to the infusion after it is poured into the cups you should put more tea - approximately by 20% - into the pot. As large leaf tea brews slower it is recommended to put one more spoon of dry tea when you brew this kind of tea.
It goes without saying that tea should be put into the pot first and then poured over with water. However, first of all one should warm up the brewing pot itself - it can be done either with hot water or on a kitchen oven.
Brewing time depends mainly on the grade of tea. As it has been mentioned earlier large leaf grades require longer brewing time. Besides that different people prefer different strength of tea. For this reason it is impossible to recommend exact brewing time. Instead, one should be guided by recommendations on the package and individual preferences. However, it is important to note that brewing time for green tea as a rule is two times less than for black tea. This is a rather important notion to keep in mind as green tea is more sensitive to brewing period than black tea and often becomes bitter if left to infuse longer than recommended.
Adding milk to tea
The idea to add milk to tea first came to Europeans. First records about the positive effects of tea with milk date back to XVII century. It is quite possible that the tradition to add milk to tea was copied from the similar trend to drink coffee that was very popular in those times.
It is believed that accordingly to the oldest tradition one has to pour milk into the cup first and only afterwards add tea. This rule is believed to have come from the fear that hot tea might damage the thin porcelain cups. However, later there appeared the followers of the exactly opposite theory stating that tea should go into cup first. Obviously that milk does not go well either with lemon or bergamot. Also one should not add milk to green tea and Chinese grades of black tea.