What makes a great cup of tea?

You can probably guess from the name of my business, SHE-TEA, that I LOVE tea! When I was a little girl my Grandma (Dot) loved to make a strong pot of tea. She always sat the pot on the kitchen bench, rotated it 360 degrees, three times anti-clockwise and one time clockwise. She promised me that was the best way to make pot of tea. I believe her.

So what else goes into making a great cup of tea? We all know, that apart from the pot and the mandatory rotational ritual, the quality of the tea leaves themselves is very important. Now, I’m not a tea snob by any means but I do put my foot down when it comes to drinking cheap, dusty, bulk-buy teas that are usually found in hotels and on the airlines. This is why I always take my own tea leaves whenever I am travelling or need to stay in a hotel for business or pleasure.

I also take a 2-cup plunger (for convenience over a pot, although if you use a plunger with tea you need to make sure you don’t press it down firmly as you don’t want to squeeze the leaves and cause bitterness) and my own tea cup as the cup is a crucial component of a great cup of tea. (Apart from my tea essentials, I also admit to taking some incense, lavender oil and, well, a few odd “necessities” with me to hotels.) My husband thinks I am the only person in the entire world who does this, and therefore thinks I am mad. Am I the only person who does this? I think not,

Finally, the water. It must be fresh, clean water, not from an urn as it makes the tea taste like dishwater and leaves it feeling stale and lifeless. Water shouldn’t come from a regularly re-boiled kettle, and if I may be pedantic, boil the water in a stove-top kettle rather than in an electric plastic jug.

Tea is important, actually it is essential to my day. A good cup of tea should give you the same feeling you get when you arrive home after a long time away. It should whisk you away from all of your worries and allow you to exhale. It should insist that you relax on the very first sip and put a little smile on your face by the last. Even in times of great pain, tea can bring something to you that nothing else can. Infact the first thing I asked for, 2 minutes after the birth of my son, was a cup of tea. So having considered this very carefully, I would say that my tips for a great cuppa would be:

  • choose high quality, loose leaf tea and buy your tea in reasonably small packs to ensure freshness (old tea loses some flavour and also loses some of its health properties)
  • keep your tea in an airtight container, in a cool, dark place
  • brew in just-bolied water for 2-3 minutes before pouring with Grandma Dot’s rotational routine
  • Drink your tea from a bone china cup if possible, alternatively your favourite cup is perfect
  • Make sure kids are either in bed (ideal) or playing happily away from you…
  • Add a deep breath, some quiet time, milk, honey or sugar as desired