1. Pick two to four teas, but make sure you try them first to avoid any surprises. Try to pick a theme, too. Delicious teas are fine, but a series of teas based on the type or the region they come from will enhance the experience.
2. Properly steep the tea. It’s about much more than just dropping a bag in boiling water. Each tea should be prepared with a specifi c temperature and steeped for a certain amount of time. White and green teas should be steeped in water that is 175 degrees Fahrenheit. White tea should be steeped for four to fi ve minutes and green tea for only a minute. Black tea should be steeped for 2 to 3 minutes at 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t steep for longer to increase the flavor, that makes the tea bitter. For a stronger flavor, just add more tea.
3. Buy the right food. White tea has a very light flavor and should go with mild foods like jasmine rice or shortbread cookies. Green tea is a bit stronger and goes well with seafood, salads and most Asian cuisine. Black tea is the heartiest and can be paired with meats and spicy food. Try some of the combinations beforehand to make sure they’ll pair well.
4. Check your equipment and lay everything out. Make sure your teapot is clean. And make sure you can boil enough water quickly enough to keep the tea flowing. This might require purchasing an electric kettle or keeping multiple pots on the stove to boil lots of water.
There are lots of types of tea, and it can be pretty confusing. It helps to understand the basics.
White: The least-processed of teas, white tea leaves are picked when they’re young. This tea is low in caffeine and has a very light color and flavor.
Green: The most popular (because of how much of it is consumed in Asia). Green teas are picked, dried and heat-treated to stop the leaves from fermenting. They have more caffeine than white teas and a stronger taste.
Black: The most popular tea in the West and also the most processed, being twice dried and fully fermented before being sold. Black teas have a strong taste and color and more caffeine than other teas.
Herbal: Herbal tea is not actually tea, as it does not come from camellia sinensis. Many herbal teas are blends of fruits, spices, herbs and sometimes flowers that create a flavorful—and caffeine free— mélange.
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