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The perfect cup of tea is really very simple

Posted Dec 07 2007 12:00am
Tea is so simple, really, just leaf and water. Yet the complexity of taste, the variety of types and the seemingly unending ways to savor it make it intriguing, mysterious and provocative. Once a tea lover graduates from teabags to loose-leaf teas, he or she is on their way to an amazing sensory voyage. Most teas are picked several times during a year, with the first and second "flush" or plucking being the most prized. As with wines, one can not always be sure that a 2007 estate Darjeeling will be as breathtaking as the 2005, or that the Yunnans of this season stack up to last. That is part and parcel of the fascination of tea -- you never know what to expect, yet you always hope that the next cup will be the most perfect. Its preparation requires pure water -- water quality is as critical as the quality of the tea leaves. Next, the three most important variables are proportion (of tealeaves to water), water temperature, and steeping time -- which is different for every type of tea! Once you’ve sought out the best teas, run your fresh, filtered water and measured out the right amount, it’s time to pour the water into the pot and then start babysitting it -- or stare at your watch while conversing over a pot of tea with friends… somehow, this timing part of the tea ritual never stuck me as enhancing the experience. Not only that, I’ve ruined many a good pot of green tea by neglecting the timing and over-steeping…
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