How Shall We Make Tea?
How shall tea be drawn or infused? Is there but one standard method for all teas, or all persons? Certainly not. A method which will suit very many delicate tastes may be briefly stated: Use water as free as possible from impurities, from earthly matters like lime. If water is boiled too long its contained air is expelled and the tea will have a "flat" taste. Use an earthen teapot by preference; one which is never applied to any other purpose. A preliminary warming of the dry teapot is advised. Drop in your tea leaves, and pour on the whole quantity of water required, while at boiling temperature. Set in warm but not very hot situation to steep, avoiding so far as practicable, loss of vapor and aroma from the teapot.
Now, as to the length of time tea should steep: — it will vary with different teas and different tastes. Some steep tea but three minutes; others double the time; while still others extend the time to 15 minutes. In any event, as soon as the characteristic flavor is extracted from the leaves, known by the loss of an agreeable tea-odor in the withdrawn leaves, the beverage will be improved rather than impaired by pouring it off into a clean teapot, in which the tea may then be preserved for along time without injury.
To some tastes, a little of the tannin is agreeable, and its absence would be missed. Then as to sugar or milk: it is evidence of exaggerated personality (conceit, some call it), to declare that milk or cream or sugar injure the flavor of tea. As well insist upon a special spice being used for all viands because the critic likes it. To hold the Chinese up as examples of what is proper in tea drinking is to offer a limit to human progress. As milk or cream neutralize the tannin to a considerable extent, they are so far desirable, without regard to taste.
From "Tea Leaves" By Francis Leggett & Co.
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