January is National Hot Tea Month here in the good ol’ U.S. of A, and for the next four weeks, we’ll be featuring a different type of tea in a blog here on the PMC website. For the first month, we have chosen the tried and true classic: black tea.
Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Chai… These are just three of the many types of black tea blends. Black tea itself originated in China and is often considered the strongest of all types of tea. Its flavor is also the longest-lasting, as it can retain flavour in its leaves for years! Because of this, hard bricks of compressed black tea leaves were used as an unofficial form of currency in the 1800s in Mongolia, Siberia, and Tibet.
So how does one go about brewing hot tea? Well, there are a couple of ways. Some tea purists prefer loose leaf, but there are a lot of supplies that go with that, so if you’re more of a casual tea drinker, tea bags might work better for you.
If loose leaf is your thing, you will need a couple of supplies, like a tea infuser or a tea strainer, and a measuring spoon. A tea infuser is a tool that you fill with leaves and put inside your teacup, and a tea strainer is a tool that you sit on top of your cup to strain out the leaves inside the tea pot – two different methods with one general shared premise. You’ll want to measure out your tea – about 1 teaspoon of tea per 8 ounces of water is recommended, but if you like your tea on the stronger side, like I do, then you might find yourself adding about a teaspoon and a half of leaves to your tea infuser or straight into the pot (if you’re using a strainer), then pour boiling (and preferably filtered) water into your cup or teapot and let steep for five minutes. Make sure to time this, as if you leave it too long the taste will get bitter.
If you’re making tea from a tea bag, my recommendation would be to follow the instructions on the packet if possible, but if the packet doesn’t have instructions, place the tea bag in the cup (remembering to let the string and tag overhang so it doesn’t get wet) and pour boiling water into the cup, then set a timer for five minutes and let steep.
When it comes to additives, that is all up to you! My preference depends on the type of tea. Usually I will add some milk (or milk substitute, like oat milk) and a bit of sugar or agave. Or, of course, you could just leave it black!
If you want to look more into black teas, like how to grow your own or various tea recipes, check out books like The Tea Book, by Louise Cheadle (available at Boardman, Canfield, and Poland), or Grow Your Own Tea: The Complete Guide to Cultivating, Harvesting, and Preparing (available as an eBook through Hoopla)
Happy sipping, and check back next week for our entry on green tea where we share some facts and trivia about the different types of green tea. Matcha, we’re looking at you!