Cup of tea: Mastering the art of the perfect brew

Cup of tea: Mastering the art of the perfect brew

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I can still remember the distinctive aroma of tea as it filled the kitchen every morning as I woke up in my childhood home. I may have inadvertently taken after my mum’s taste, because of my ardent adoration of her, which meant both of us liked our tea a little less strong and sweetened with a generous spoonful of honey. I can still recall my mother calling out for me to “put the kettle on”. Having tea in the morning and in the evening was a ritual that we could hardly forgo. It was the time of the day when everything else took a backseat, as we sat down to take a moment for ourselves and relish in the simpler more beautiful moments of life.

As I added more candles to my cake, I gained a wider awareness of the world around us. My passion for our tea ritual incited me to learn more about the art of making, serving and drinking tea. This included the different types, flavours, the interesting history and the charming beauty of tea. I strongly believe that it is an art which is worthy of plenty of attention and detail. My affinity for tea makes the age-old tradition of making the perfect cup of tea an important one for me. I relish the ritualistic process of picking the leaf blends. I revel in the sound of water as it boils, beckoning me to pour the leaves. I delight in the dance of the leaves as they gently submerge themselves in the water emancipating a lovely fragrance as they steep. I love nothing more than a refreshing cup of morning tea as I start my day giving me the chance to gently welcome the beginning of a new day. I think tea truly deserves this detail of ritual, purity and of time.

Lately, I have been going through the criterion which befits my idea of a perfect cup of tea and I have come across a few fundamentals based on the preparation and presentation of tea that I would like to share with all of you. I hope you enjoy reading it, just like you enjoy a wonderful cup of tea.

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But, first up…

# 1 Attitude means everything. A beautiful mind gives way to a delicious cup of tea. So before you get to the preparations, take a moment to relax yourself. Reach out to your inner soul and find peace within yourself. Fill your mind with the beautiful and positive moments of your life so that you feel a surge of energy as you begin the ritual of tea making.

#2 Tea selection is highly important. The tender, tangible magic of a wonderful cup of tea lies in details as subtle as the right choice of tea. Keep in mind both – the physical characteristics like the unique aroma, the distinctive taste and the shape of the leaves, and the spiritual characteristics like the history of the tea you choose, its name and origin; so that you select a tea that you can make a connection with. My tea searching usually ends with the Oolong variety which I feel resonates my taste perfectly.

#3 Water selection needs special attention. The most disregarded aspect in tea-making is the water. After all, the harmless looking transparent liquid could hardly make a big difference right? Wrong! Clean and pure water allows you to enjoy the true essence of the tea. It is the freshness of water in its pure state that helps us admire the loving benevolence of Mother Nature. The addition of chlorine and fluoride does alter the taste of water and can consequently have a detrimental effect on the actual taste of the tea you prepare, while distilled water results in flat tea which takes away the pleasures of sipping the beverage. On the other hand, high mineral content in the water abets the exquisiteness and sweetness of green tea. The perfect cup of tea requires water with an alkaline pH level of approximately 7.9 and a temperature that hovers between 75 degree and 85 degree centigrade.

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My perfect cup of tea:

• Add fresh water to a stove top kettle and bring it to a boil.

• While the water boils, prepare the tea leaves by placing an adequate amount of loose tea leaves {about 1/3 full} in a Gaiwan {covered bowl}. Since the tea leaves will need room to expand when they begin to infuse, make sure you do not overcrowd the leaves. This will help the leaves release the maximum amount of flavour.

• Pour the freshly boiled water to the Gaiwan so that it covers the leaves. Revel in the enticing aroma of the tea as the leaves steep in the water. In about 2 to 3 minutes the infusion will complete.

• Once the tea leaves have steeped enough to reach the strength you prefer, pour the tea into your favourite cup and add a sweetener {if desired}. Now that your tea is ready, you can enjoy it on its own or pair it with some sweet or savoury treats.

Note: The fragrance of the tea leaves is what makes the customary drinking of tea complete. If you are using a small cup for your tea then do not indulge in the blatant gulping or drinking of tea without revelling in its aroma. Sip the tea nonchalantly through your lips and teeth and, as you make a hissing sound you will be able to enjoy the more intricate taste and aroma of the cup of tea you have prepared.

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My perfect cup of tea

* I like my tea at medium strength. If I use more leaves than this then they do not get the chance to reach their complete strength, which in simpler words mean that they get wasted.

End note: Just like everything else, tea has its own cultural and geographical uniqueness which varies from the person who prepares it to the country it is being prepared in. It is a personal experience which differs for everyone right from the way it is brewed to the manner in which it is presented.

But one thing that bridges the vast chasm of cultural differences is the fact that tea invites a moment and a refreshing pause in the day. It gives us the chance to cherish time, to stop and sip bringing in a sense of being carefree even if it lasts till your last sip of tea. No matter which continent you sit in, and how you drink it, tea is always soothing and always welcome.

How do you like to drink yours?

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

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