Making a Proper Cup of Tea
In different cultures there are very specific ways to make a cup of tea. In some cultures there is a method to whom is served first and tea leaves must be added to the water a specific way. In other cultures there is some debate as to whether tea should be served with milk or lemon. Depending on where you live and what traditions and practices you follow, your cup of tea may very greatly from that of your neighbor. But if you're searching for the way to a divine cup of steaming tea, you should take the time to do it right - or at least close enough.
Unless you are using an automated coffee maker or hot water dispenser to provide your hot water, you'll want to put a kettle on to boil. Even if you have the option of obtaining your hot water from more conventional means, there is a great satisfaction in boiling water in a tea kettle anyway. It feels homey and warm - everything a great cup of tea should be.
Steep the Tea
When your water is hot enough, it's time to use your tea. Most likely you have a collection of teabags at your disposal. Now you must make an important decision. First, what sort of tea would you like to have? And second, how much tea do you want?
If you'd like to enjoy your tea the old fashioned way, use loose tea leaves rather than tea bags in your water. You can pour the water into a warm tea pot and then add about half a teaspoon of tea leaves. Allow the leaves to steep for five to ten minutes depending on the desired strength of the tea before pouring. When you pour the tea, you'll need to use a strainer to keep leaves from falling into your cup.
If you would rather fix your tea with a bit more convenience, you can pour hot water into a warm teacup and steep a single teabag by adding it to the water and draping the string over the side. Leave the single bag in the cup for three to five minutes before removing. If you're making a pot of tea, use two tea bags and again steep for three to five minutes.
Serving the Tea
When you serve or pour the tea, you can do so with great ceremony or keep it much more simplistic. Unless you prefer your tea without any additional flavors, you'll want to add either milk or lemon. In some cases, you might stir in honey instead. If you add milk, you should pour warm milk into your tea cup before adding the tea. Lemon can be added to tea after its poured. Usually you do one or the other, and sugar can be added to either cup.