How To Brew A Brilliant Cuppaand ChooseThe Best Tea Kettle
If you’ve ever seen My Fair Lady (1964), there’s a good chance you’ll remember the scene where Professor Higgins is doing his best to teach Eliza that it’s a “cup of tea” and not a “cuppa tea”, but it takes her a while to get it. No matter it’s pronunciation, the movie serves to show just how important tea can be. All over the globe, people have traditions related to tea and even the instant-gratification society we live in hasn’t fully managed to consign these tea rituals to oblivion completely.
One of the most important parts of a tea ritual is, of course, brewing a brilliant cup of tea. We’re so used to teabags nowadays that most of us have no idea what a good cup of tea tastes like, let alone a brilliant one. In this article, we’re going to look at how you can find a flavor of tea that appeals to you and how you can brew an excellent cup of tea. Just remember, it all starts with the best tea kettle. After all, having the right equipment is just as important as the method.
What’s The Best Tea For You?
Before we look at the best tea kettle, or how to brew an amazing cuppa, we should first discuss picking out the right tea. First off, forget tea bags. Tea bags are, technically, bags of tea dust rather than tea leaves, which might mean your drink will be ready faster but it will be lacking in the subtle yet complex flavors of a tea brewed from leaves. Likewise, the taste will be harsher, which might put you off tea completely.
In fact, if you think you don’t like tea but you’ve always used teabags, you might want to give loose-leaf a chance as it will likely change your mind completely. There’s little comparison between the two. In fact, some tea aficionados will tell you that the drink made from those little baggies is about as far from real tea as you can get without turning it into a milkshake.
In terms of choosing a flavor, we recommend you experiment. There are more than 3,000 flavors of tea, so you have lots to go through. However, to narrow your choices down a little, at least when you start out, consider the following:
- Do you want caffeinated or non-caffeinated?
- Do you prefer a strong tea with a lot of body, a medium or a light one?
- Do you want it flavored or straight?
For example, if you prefer a caffeinated tea with little body and strength, i.e. something a little lighter, and with a little flavor to it, then you could try jasmine green tea. On the other hand, if you prefer a strong tea with lots of body and with nothing but the flavor of tea, then something like Ceylon or Darjeeling will be more up your alley.
Remember, no matter how many charts you use or questions you answer, when it comes to choosing the best tea for you, the secret is trying as many flavors as possible. You never know when you might come across something you’d hate on paper but fall in love with when you taste it.
Choosing The Right Tea Kettle
A tea kettle is not always the same thing as a tea pot. A kettle is designed to heat water, usually on the stove, while a pot is meant to be used for the actual brewing. Of course, kettles can be used to steep the tea as well, but pots can’t really be used to heat water – at least not on the stovetop.
Now, the first decision you need to make is whether the best tea kettle for you is electric or a stovetop version.
Electric kettles just need to be plugged in and you’ll have hot water before you know it. They’re definitely a lot faster than heating water on the stove. However, it’s usually not the best idea to brew tea in an electric kettle. Some are made largely of plastic and will stain, but even metal versions don’t really double up effectively as teapots.
Stovetop kettles, on the other hand, are all metal and can be used to brew the tea after the water has heated. The stovetop kettle you decide on will depend on factors such as aesthetics and capacity. The more tea you want to make, the larger the kettle has to be.
At first glance, you might think that the best tea kettle is electric. After all, it boils water fast without the hassle of a stovetop version. However, the whole idea behind brewing a good cup of tea is to take things slow. And a stovetop kettle will make it easier for you to go slowly and really appreciate your tea and the moment. Plus, if you’re not sure tea is for you, a stovetop tea kettle can double as a teapot so you don’t have to make a separate investment.
Brewing An Excellent Cup Of Tea
The first step is to get everything ready because once the water has reached the right temperature, you don’t want to fiddle around, allowing it to cool, which would ruin your tea.
Once you have your cup, teapot (if using one) and leaves ready, measure out your tea leaves. You’ll find recommendations on the packet in terms of quantity but a good rule of thumb is to use about 2 teaspoons of white tea to 8 oz of water, or 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of black tea for the same quantity of water. Of course, you can use more or less, depending on taste.
If using a stovetop kettle or a teapot without a built-in strainer, place the right quantity of leaves in a tea infuser. If using a teapot with an inbuilt strainer, put the leaves in the strainer.
Now that everything’s ready, it’s time to heat your water. The first think you need to keep in mind is that boiling water should never be used to make tea, regardless of the type. In fact, water needs to be heated to a specific temperature, depending on the type of tea you are using, to ensure the best results.
Thus, for green and white teas, the ideal water temperature is 175ºF, whereas for black and oolong teas, the water should be around 195ºF to 200ºF. You can use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the water. But don’t worry about measuring the water temperature while it’s heating. You can always allow the water to boil and then cool it down using ice cubes. Just pop a little ice into the water until you get it to the right temperature.
Pour the water into the teapot or pop the infuser into the kettle and allow to steep. It’s important not to over-steep or steep to little. In the latter scenario, you’ll have a weak and watery tea, whereas the former will result in a bitter taste. Again, recommended steeping times are often available on the packet but a good rule of thumb is to steep:
- White tea between 4 to 5 minutes;
- Oolong for 3 minutes;
- Black tea between 2 and 3 minutes;
- Green requires a mere one minute – if using a flavored green tea, you can leave it for up to 2 minutes.
And that’s all there is to it. Yes, brewing a brilliant cup of tea is more complicated than popping a teabag into a cup and pouring boiling water over it, but it’s definitely worth the hassle. You’ll gain a new appreciation for this delightful beverage and also for the ritual itself. And buying all the accessories, including the best tea kettle, and testing all sorts of flavors of tea is a lot of fun.