I am sure we all recall the controversy from a few years ago where an American woman was demonstrating how to make the perfect cup of tea in a microwave. As far as I am concerned, this method is for emergency purposes only since the water heats unevenly and won’t steep the tea properly. In my mind there are two situations in which to make tea, so there are two different processes:
Version 1 is for company or enjoying the ritual and serving from a teapot. In this scenario you’ll boil the water either in a stovetop kettle or an electric kettle, but you’ll be serving from a ceramic (most likely) teapot.
Version 2 is in the office or in between video calls for WFH, for one person.
Version 1 - With a classic Teapot:
1. Boil the Water:
You can do this with a kettle on the stovetop or with an electric kettle. Some electric kettles will even let you control the temperature of the water so that you can be precise for certain types of teas (e.g. 208°F for black tea). I use a simple electric kettle that was a gift from my mother in law, and I love it.
I also suggest using filtered water whenever possible so that you don’t end up with any odd flavors mixed in with your tea.
2. Warm the Teapot:
Always boil more water than you think you need so that you can use some of it to warm the teapot. You’ll want to fill at least ¼ of the teapot, swirl it around and then pour it out. Why do we do this? The water temperature won’t drop too much when you add the hot water for the tea if the teapot has been warmed.
3. Tea in the Teapot and Steeping:
Next you’ll want to add the tea to the teapot, then add the hot water. Here you have two options – loose tea or tea bags. Loose teas are more flavorful, but it’s your choice.
If you use loose tea, you’ll want to use an infuser that is large enough for the teapot. If you have a tea cozy, you’ll want to use it to cover the teapot to keep it warm while you let it steep. Every type of tea has a different recommendation for how long to steep, but its also your personal preference. But you do not want to steep for more than 5 minutes or it will get bitter.
Pour the tea into the teacups and leave some room for your guests to add lemon, sugar, or milk. The infuser will keep the leavers from getting into the cups.
If you do not use all of the water in the teapot, make sure that the infuser is not sitting in water. Over-steeping will make the tea very bitter.
5. A Second Pot of Tea:
If you want to have another teapot of tea, you can re-use the tea you already have in the infuser. You’ll want to add more hot water and let it sit and steep again. This time you’ll need to add 2 more minutes this time for the second steep.
Version 2 – The Single Cup of Tea at Work or WFH:
When I am working from home, I use tea bags instead of loose tea.
I still use my electric kettle, and a mug. The bigger the better to save trips back to the kitchen.
Sometimes, if I have a few more minutes between calls, I will use loose tea and an infuser for my tea at home. I have quite a collection of them. One of my favorite infusers is my “mana-tea” but the one that works the best is the classic stainless steel one the has a hinge, like this one from Amazon.
So if you are making tea for yourself, here are my suggested instructions:
1. Boil the Water:
Again, you can use a stove top kettle or an electric kettle, and use filtered water if you can.
2. Put the tea in the mug:
Place the tea bag or infuser into the mug before adding the hot water.
Be sure to leave enough room to add milk, honey, lemon juice or whatever you plan to add later on.
3. Add the Hot Water and Steep:
Steep until the tea is a good color for you – usually 4-5 minutes for black teas, 3-4 for green teas.