There are a number of variables that contribute to making a great cup of tea. First and foremost among them is the quality of tea you’re using. Using bad or lackluster tea leaves is going to result in a bad or lackluster cup of tea, no matter how much tweaking you subject it to.
Other critical variables in the process include the amount of time that you steep the leaves and the temperature at which they’re steeped. Many a cup of tea has surely been rendered bitter, astringent and barely drinkable simply by letting the leaves steep for an undue amount of time. More delicate teas such as green, white and yellow are particularly susceptible to being ruined by steeping them at high temperatures.
While these are among the most important variables associated with tea drinking, along with such issues as water quality, there are a few other, more nebulous variables that can affect our enjoyment of tea. For many people the sequence of steps that they go through in the preparation of their tea may contribute to the overall experience and for many of us the teawarewe use in preparing and drinking tea is key to the process.
There are a number of vessels we can actually drink our tea from, including such diverse objects as paper and Styrofoam cups at the lowest end of the scale to ceramic mugs with cute slogans and priceless antique teaware, just to name a few. My own preference, for a number of reasons, is for clear glass drinking vessels.
If you haven’t tried drinking tea yet from a clear glass, it’s time to give it a shot. There’s something about the play of light shining through a cup of tea, whether it be a deep reddish-brown Assam, a bright green Gyokuro or a golden Oolong that enhances the enjoyment immeasurably. These days I’m at the point where if I’m not able to drink tea from a clear glass I’m almost just as happy to consider not drinking any at all.
Make sure to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!