How to Make A Perfect Pot of Tea
You will need tea, either loose leaf or tea bags, water, a kettle and a teapot.
Fill the kettle with cold tap water and set the kettle to boil. While the water is coming to the boil, fill the teapot with hot tap water and allow to stand until the teapot is nicely warmed up.
Discard the hot tap water and add tea leaves. The old saying that “it’s one for each person and one for the pot” is still as true today as it ever was and you should use one heaped teaspoon of tea for 1 cup of water (teacup size) and one extra teaspoon “for the pot.” If you are using teabags, the same ratio applies, one teabag for each person and one for the pot.
When the kettle boils, pour the boiling water into the teapot and remember to take the “pot to the kettle, not the kettle to the pot” this is so that the water is still boiling when it is poured over the tea leaves and results in hotter and better tasting tea. The water has to be actually boiling when it is poured into the teapot for perfect tea. The water will go off the boil and cool a little if you carry the kettle over to the tea pot (it is also a little dangerous too!). Do not fill the teapot to the brim as it will spill out from under the lid when the first cup is poured. Fill to within an inch or so of the top.
You may now carry the teapot out to your guests and set on the tea table. Allow the tea to steep for around 3 to 5 minutes and pour carefully into the cups. Make the tea just before you wish to serve it, if the tea steeps for too long, it becomes ‘stewed’, cold and quite unpleasant.
A good hostess will ask her guests how they prefer their tea, and those who like weaker tea, should have their tea poured first. The weaker tea is at the top of the pot and with a few careful, quick and skillful upward flicks of the wrist (which will impress your guests!) it is possible to bring up the stronger tea from the bottom of the pot to the top for a lovely strong cup of tea. This trick is one I learned from my mother and grandmother, however it doesn’t work in reverse unfortunately and so those who like weak tea should be served first. It is quite amazing how with a little skill and practice you can pour both weak and strong tea from the same pot!
If the tea is a little weak, add more tea to the pot and allow to steep for another minute or so and if the tea is too strong, top up with more boiling water. Special hot water pots are available for this purpose and look a little like small coffee pots. For a stylish touch, you can invest in an antique silver hot water kettle with small spirit burner underneath and this will keep water boiling hot at the tea table. The kettle tips forward easily to top up a teapot.
Relax and enjoy your tea!