Thursday, February 14, 2008

Time for Tea

Happy Valentine's Day!

Alissa asked me this morning if we could have a tea party and since it's been awhile since we've done that I decided today would be a nice day to celebrate with tea and cupcakes. I think that this will be a new tradition for us on Valentine's day.
I picked up a flyer from the local extension board that gave detailed instructions for brewing tea and it was fun to use something besides the microwave. I may just have to pick up a tea kettle after this because the flavor was definitely better.
So pull out your tea kettle and gather your little princes and princess around for a delightful afternoon tea.

1. Start with fresh cold water
Use fresh cold water rather than hot tap water or water that has already been heated for making your tea. Hot tap water and reheated water have less oxygen and give a "flatter" flavor. Let the water run from the tap for a few seconds to incorporate more oxygen. Unless the directions for you tea state otherwise, heat about 8-ounces of water for each cup of tea you plan to make.
TIP: Use bottled or filtered water if your regular tap water has an unpleasant flavor. 2. Preheat teapot of cup
While waiting for your water to heat, preheat the teapot or cup in which your tea bag(s) or loose tea will be steeped by filling it with hot water. It's OK to use hot tap water for preheating. If the heated water for your tea is poured into a cold teapot or cup, the water temperature may drop several degrees and decrease the flavor extraction from the tea.
TIP: If steeping tea directly in a cup, you may wish to cover the cup both while warming it with hot water and while the tea is breawing to retain the heat. Your saucer is a possibility for a cover. You also can purchase tea mugs with lids.

3. Use correct amount of water and tea
As a general guideline, use about 1 tea bag or 1 teaspoon of loose tea per 8-ounce cup of tea. Check package directions. If your tea is too strong, add more hot water after your tea has brewed. If your tea is too weak, either use more tea or less water the next time you make tea.
4. Brew at correct time/temperature
Follow the directions that come with your tea for the recommended brewing time and temperature.
Generally, for black teas—bring the water to a rolling boil. Immediately pour the boiling water over the tea. Allow black tea to steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
For green tea, which is more delicate than black tea, use water that is about 160 to 180 degrees F or just below boiling. At this temperature, you will see some steam rise from the water. This lower temperature helps protect against a bitter or astringent taste in green tea. Brew green tea for about 3 minutes, or as directed on the package.
TIP: If heating your water for green tea in a whistling tea kettle, flip back or remove the whistle section so you can see when steam starts rising from the spout.
TIP: Avoid letting tea over steep—this also can make it bitter. It may be helpful to use a timer in brewing your tea—the color of the tea isn't necessarily and indicator of the tea's taste.

5. Don't overcrowd loose tea
If you use loose tea leaves rather than tea bags, your tea will taste best if the leaves have some room to expand. Place the tea leaves directly into a teapot and strain the brewed tea with a fine mesh strainer into your cups. Or use a basket infuser or a large tea ball in your teapot or cup. A tea ball or basket infuser should be filled no more than half full with tea so the leaves have room to expand for the best flavor.

I added stevia for sweetener and our cupcakes where just a plain scratch white cake with a packet of strawberry kool-aid added:)

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