Like William Ewart Gladstone said in a poem, “if you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.” Tea is a magical key that has the potential to influence people’s feelings, and empower their souls. In London, tea is considered one of the best sweeteners for a lazy afternoon while in China, people are obsessed with tea to the point that they drink it more than water. It seems that tea is definitely one of the most popular drinks in the world.

According to our interviews in New York, pedestrians in midtown favor all types of tea. The majority preferred the two most traditional types of tea – green and black tea. Several people favored Roselle tea, lemon tea with honey, or apple tea (both are sweeter and more juicy than traditional tea). Finally, some were fans of mint tea because it could provide an effect similar to coffee. Perhaps all this diverse feedback from those who were interviewed stems from the availability of tea in New York. People can go to places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to find all their favorite types of tea for home, or simply grab a cup of tea at Starbucks if they’re in a rush.

Yet, do people really know how to make a “perfect” cup of tea at home? First, one should already have tea bags without any tags or loose tea, a kettle, a proper tea pot, and a tea cosy (this keeps tea pots warm); keep in mind a tea strainer might also be needed if loose tea is used.¹ From my past experiences, I highly recommend loose tea since it is fresher and better in quality even though it requires a more complicated process. With proper preparation, one can start boiling water in the kettle; note that it’s crucial to warm the tea pot using boiling hot water before making tea. After the boiling, place the proper number of tea bags or spoons of tea mix into the warm tea pot with the boiling water.¹ The final step consists of waiting until the tea reaches its optimal temperature.

Most people don’t realize the significance of the tea’s temperature and its brewing time. According to the Daily Telegraph, there exists a chemical reaction between the water and the tea leaves. Caffeine will be produced once water is poured onto the tea leaves, and then tannin will be formed after 3 minutes which will deliver a bitter taste. From empirical experiments, scientists have concluded that the temperature needed to flood flavors out is 60 degrees Celsius (approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit), and the best brew time is 6 minutes.² In addition, many people like to add milk into their tea making it worth noting that milk should never be poured in first since the sweetness comes from milk, honey, or sugars that neutralize the bitterness created by the chemical reaction. A balance between bitterness and sweetness would be a key factor in making a perfect cup of tea.

Nowadays, tea leaves are considered one of the most beneficial drinks for leading a healthy life. Tea can enhance mental focus, revitalize body cells, reduce risks of diseases, and fight various forms of cancers. Most importantly, used tea bags are capable of serving multiple purposes. For example, instead of immediately throwing out used tea bags, one could use them to flavor meats, make a special mask for comforting tired eyes, fertilize plants, or clean kitchens and bathrooms. Tea is truly a unique drink, and the possibilities of its use are endless. Enjoy your tea!

¹ http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-proper-cup-of-tea/ (March 24, 2014)

² http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8577637/How-to-make-the-perfect-cup-of-tea-be-patient.html (June 15, 2011)

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