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Turning to Autumn

Posted by Alison Appleton on

The British weather has just changed, suddenly in the space of a few days I have gone from feeling the beautiful caress from a warm breeze to thinking about lighting a log fire. Tonight might be the night!

Thoughts have also turned to tea, one of my pleasures is to read by the fire with a 'proper' cup of tea. I say proper because making really good tea is simple providing you do it the right way. Many people have stopped or never used a teapot but it is essential for making well brewed, good quality tea. This is how you do it, follow these rules and you can't go wrong.

1. Use loose leaf tea it is without doubt the best tea, it's picked from the top of the tea plant called Camellia Sinensis which originates in southern China but is now grown in many countries around the world including Sri Lanka (Ceylon tea), Africa, Indonesia, Turkey, Vietnam, England (Tregothnan in Cornwall) and of course India (tea from India is also an indigenous plant and is know as Camellia Assamica). In all of these countries each plantation will take the greenest, youngest shoots, the two leaves and bud from the top of the plant and reserve them for the loose leaf tea market. It is also much more environmentally friendly to use loose leaf tea as it doesn't go through the factory process of being bagged and packed to such a degree.

2. You need a teapot with an integral infuser, a cup and saucer or mug, a timer (stopwatch on phones are perfect) and a kettle or other means of heating water.

3. Use the correct sized teapot for the job, you can buy small pots for one or two cups, one litre pots will make six teacups. 

4. Fill the kettle with the appropriate amount of water.

5. Take your pot, I am using Rosie (available at This makes enough tea for two cups so I will put two heaped teaspoons in the filter.

6. I am drinking Earl Grey so it's a black tea and will need 100º boiling water.

7. When the kettle is boiled pour over the tea, close the lid, put the timer on. For me a perfect brew is not too weak or strong so I will let it brew for 3-4 minutes. If you prefer weak or strong tea leave it for less or more time.

8. Once time is up remove the filter from the pot. This is very important as otherwise it will continue to brew, the tannin will come out which make the tea taste bitter. Another reason is that if you buy really special loose leaf tea you can often re-brew it, so long as you haven't left it in the pot, sitting in stewed tea.

9. When ready pour, add milk or lemon if you wish and enjoy.

Having a husband who is a passionate fan of Twinings Assam teabags I have had a struggle on my hands to convince him to try loose leaf teas, to give him his due he is now a fan. We enjoy different tea throughout the day and almost always take a fine, fruity, delicate chinese black tea up to bed in a pot for two.

Brewed loose leaf tea has much more complexity of taste than the average teabag. It takes longer to brew because the leaves are not broken meaning that all the anti-oxidants and polyphenols are generally more abundant too.

Other advantages of using pots with integral filters are that they are so very easy to use and clean. Once the leaves are finished just tap them out of the filter into the bin or compost heap (they are great nutrients for your garden). It's also much nicer to pour multiple cups of tea from your pot when you have friends or family around and as for you with your own favourite pot, if you are anything like me you can use it to concoct all sorts of infusions, adding ginger and lemon to my own green tea and using lots of herbs from the garden.

If you are brewing white or green tea it is most important to know that you should never use boiling water. These are delicately flavours leaves and mostly suit 70º-80º water, left fro 2-3 minutes. All good tea merchants will have full brewing instructions on the packaging.

Now back to thinking about some new Christmas blends!