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T is for tea
by Cynthia Salaysay| 1 2 3

Tea is one of the better parts of my everyday life. A good mug of Irish breakfast with a nice lump of sugar and some cream tastes just wonderful first thing in the morning. On a cold day, a warming mug of ginger tea is just the thing. Chamomile at night, mint tea for a tummy ache, green tea on a full belly or with some Chinese food. Tea when the weather is grey. Tea when the sky is blue. Tea when Iím feeling blue. By turns calming, stimulating, and healing, drinking tea is one of the easiest ways to treat yourself. Itís up there with bubblebaths and foot massages.

One of the beauties of tea drinking is its social aspect. Thereís an art to the English afternoon tea, with its crustless sandwiches, sugary cakes, and Devonshire cream and jam, and the Japanese tea ceremony with its powdered tea and bamboo whisks. It doesnít have to be high ceremony, though. A teapot, steaming and heavy on the table, along with the company of a  good friend, is an easy and pleasant enough way to spend an afternoon.  Plus itís a chance to use your fancy new Japanese iron teapot and Japanese teacups, or your grandmotherís big fat teapot with matching trivet. Bring out the doilies. You get the picture.

A cup of tea is simple to make and easy to ruin. At best it can smell of flowers and have a deep satisfying flavor. At worst it tastes like cardboard.  You can make a yummy full-flavored cuppa by doing the following:

1. First, draw cool fresh water from the tap. Cold water carries more oxygen, which brings out the flavor of the tea. Use bottled water if the tap water in your area is poor.
2. Bring it just to boiling. Water which has boiled too long will have lost all its oxygen and will make cardboard-like tea. If you are making green tea, you may want to cool the water slightly, to about 195 degrees after boiling.
3. While the water is boiling, take the chill out of your teapot and/or teacups by rinsing them with hot water. This will keep the tea warmer for a longer amount of time.
4.  Use one teabag per 8 oz cup. If you are using loose tea, use one teaspoon of loose tea per serving. You may want to use more for herbal teas, and double for oolong. If you are using a tea infuser, such as a tea ball or egg or spoon, make sure you leave at least half the space in the infuser for the tea leaves to expand.

more tips on enjoying tea

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