Tea should be enjoyable, even if you are drinking it for the claimed health benefits. I would even go so far as to say that tea should be fun to learn about, to prepare, and then to enjoy (whether you’re sipping or gulping).
I like black tea. Correction: I love black tea. Mainly because I love my tea served in what many refer to as “British style,” that is, with milk and sweetener. I have been enjoying my tea this way for many years. So, I was rather surprised to see an article titled “How to brew ruby black” on the Tea Industry Careers & Trends group page on LinkedIn.com. It’s a tea I have enjoyed for a long time. Gee, have I been steeping this tea wrong all these years? Or is this just more “expert” tea advice that I now have to absorb in order to enjoy a cuppa? And that led to the question of whether all this advice is taking the fun out of tea. Yikes!
Actually, the author isn’t putting his foot down and about to send the tea police to your house to be sure you steep just right. He’s just sharing some thoughts on steeping that tea. The same goes for those other tea “experts.” They are simply providing information to help you understand and appreciate tea better. If you’re like me, then you enjoy things more as you learn more about them. And that makes them more fun.
Take, for example, that ruby black tea from Taiwan. The article mentioned above shows a way of steeping that the author claims results in a tea liquid that is even more flavorful than the tea grower has achieved. Wow! Considering the price of a good quality tea, this was worth a try. The recommended water temperature was a bit cooler than I normally use (95 degrees instead of 100 Centigrade) and the steeping time was shorter (2½ minutes versus the 5 minutes I usually do). He also uses 5 grams (not quite 2 teaspoons) of tea leaves in 300cc of water.
Well, let’s give it a try. Experimenting with tea is part of the fun, after all. Heating the water… checking the temperature with my thermometer… 95° exactly… teapot is ready with the right amount of ruby black tea leaves, so in goes the water… timer set to 2½ minutes… tick, tick, tick, DING!… time to strain and enjoy! Good color — a nice rich ruby red. Good aroma — rich and enticing. Now for a sip — ah, light yet still with that rich flavor. But too light for me to add milk and sweetener. Oh, well, it was still fun to give it a try.
The bottom line here is basically how you take that “expert” tea advice. With all due respect to all of them out there, you are the true “expert” on your tea experience. Read them and then go have your tea your way. I steeped more of that tea my normal way, added milk and sweetener, grabbed a hot scone and had a fabulous and fun tea moment. Your turn!
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