I have a very British streak in me, which comes from my ancestral history. We have usually had Tea as a meal at our house in the afternoons, and if I can find a Tea Shop to visit in my travels, I always enjoy it.
This recipe for making tea includes much more than just how to boil water. I hope you enjoy the information.
Be sure to check out my new cookbook on Just A Pinch, named "Let's Have Tea."
Tea is best made with loose leaves, but good quality teabags are also available. Your flavor options are almost endless.
**START** with properly heated water. Place tea or teabags in a teapot that has been warmed with hot water. Pour the water slowly over tea leaves or teabags, then stir. Let steep 5 minutes for most BLACK TEAS. See below for variations on steeping time for different types of teas.
After steeping, strain leaves out of tea with a tea strainer as you pour each cup, or just remove the teabags. A tea infuser could also be used to contain the leaves, just remove it. This prevents the tea from becoming too strong and bitter. Serve with sugar and milk, or use honey to sweeten, and lemon if not using milk.
GREEN TEA: green tea is processed without being oxidized and retains its natural green color and a leafy or plant flavor. Green tea is full of phytochemicals and antioxidants which are supposed to be good for your immune system and fight the effects of aging.
Water does not have to be at full boil for green tea; the recommended temperature is 180°, and steep for only 3 minutes. Be sure to stir well before straining and pouring, to get all the health benefits from green tea.
WHITE TEAS are a type of green tea that contain the buds of the tea plant, immediately fired or steamed after withering. It is the least processed of any tea and has the least caffeine of true teas; some claim it also has the greatest antioxidant properties. It has a light, sweet taste. Brew as for green tea.
BLACK TEAS are the most popular teas in America. The leaves are rolled and fermented, giving them a rich dark red-to-brown color when brewed. While Lipton tea is a mixture of Orange Pekoe and Pekoe black teas, there are several different types of black tea, each with its own distinctive flavor. Some examples are Assam, Ceylon, and Darjeeling. Steep black teas for 4 - 6 minutes in fully boiling water.
OOLONG TEAS: These teas are only partly fermented, and range in color from near-green to near-black. Oolongs are often scented with flowers and herbs to take advantage of the lightness of their flavor. Almost all Oolong teas come from China. Tea purists recommend Oolongs be drunk straight without milk or sugar, to preserve the unique flavor. Water should be just starting to boil, and tea should be steeped for 3-4 minutes.
SCENTED TEAS: Chai, Earl Grey, Jasmine, and Lapsang Souchong are examples of black or Oolong teas that have been flavored with flowers and/or herbal oils. These are popular with those who find plain tea a bit bitter. Sweetening enhances the flavor of these teas, and Chai traditionally has milk added. Brew as for black teas.
There are basically two types of Tea meals.
The HIGH TEA in Britain is a full meal served after 5:00, and may include sausages, eggs, fish, or other main dishes in addition to scones and vegetables.
The AFTERNOON TEA is served around 4:00 and includes small scones, biscuits or cakes, dainty sandwiches, and bread with butter and jam or Devonshire Cream.
About Devonshire or Clotted Cream: This delicacy is not imported anymore due to issues with Mad Cow Disease. However, it is wonderful spread on scones, muffins, or toast. Here is a recipe for an acceptable substitute:
Soften 6 ounces of cream cheese, and beat until light and fluffy. Fold in 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt, and 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar until well blended. Refrigerate until serving time.