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Making a great cup of black tea isn't hard, but it does require just a few supplies, and deserves your full attention.
teapot or cup
infuser basket or tea ball
teaspoon measuring spoon
fresh, clean water
quality loose tea
How much tea/how much water:
1 teaspoon of loose tea per 8 ounces of water, more or less if you prefer
1. Take a deep breath, and put aside the day's cares for a few minutes. This time is for you.
2. Put water in the teakettle and bring to a boil.
3. While the water is heating measure out the loose tea and place into a tea ball or infuser basket* that is large enough to allow the leaves to expand, and set the infuser into the teapot.
4. Pour the freshly boiled water over the loose tea, being careful not to overflow the teapot.
5. Allow to steep, with the lid on (if using an infuser basket, use its lid rather than the teapot's lid, which won't sit safely over the infuser), for 3-7 minutes. The longer the tea steeps, the more bitter it will become. I prefer to steep for no more than
5 minutes because I will not drink a bitter cup of tea.
5a. Set a timer if you need to. It's easy to get distracted and forget about that steeping pot or cup of tea.
6. Remove the tea leaves from the cup/pot.
7. Pour the tea into your cup.
8. Add sugar, honey, Stevia, or artificial sweeteners (if you really must) and milk to taste. There is debate about whether to add sugar and/or milk before or after the tea. I say, you're the one drinking it, do what makes you happy. I add Turbinado sugar after the tea is poured, and I only use milk with chai tea.
19. Allow to cool to the temperature you prefer, and then sit back, relax and enjoy.
*I prefer to use an infuser basket in the teapot so that I can remove the tea leaves easily once the steeping time is up. It is much easier to use and clean than a tea ball in my experience, and the infuser that I sell comes with a lid/drip cup to set the basket on when it is removed from the teapot. No dripping on the counter. I have infuser baskets that are nearly ten years old, and have endured daily use and countless trips through the dishwasher. They are still in perfect working order.
**There's no reason you couldn't steep your tea directly in your cup or insulated travel mug. That is what I do 99% of the time. Tea balls and the smaller infuser baskets will fit in most cups and travel mugs (with the notable exception of my insulated Klean Kanteen) and you won't have to wash the teapot later.
If you enjoyed this post about preparing a great cup of tea, you might be interested in others from this blog series: How Do I Make a Great Cup of Tea?
How to Steep Green Tea
How to Steep Oolong Tea
How to Steep Rooibos Tea