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TEA: For Two or More

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Story by Beth Potter

The image of being wrapped in a warm blanket, hands cupped around a steaming mug of tea is definitely one of the comforting images of our long Canadian winter. Its no wonder Canadians alone drink more than seven billion cups of tea each year. Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world.

And that’s great news on the health front. The latest research confirms tea’s benefits for cancer prevention as well as healthy teeth, a healthy heart and keeping an active mind. All teas come from the same plant, camellia sinensis. Teas are then classified in four major categories – white, green, Oolong or black. The color of tea is the result of the chemical changes that take place when the leaves are given time to oxidize before drying. The exception of course, being herbal and flower teas that are simply dried herbs. The world boasts more than 3,000 teas.

Some of the most unique and sought-after teas include Gyokuro, a delicate green tea (grown in shade in just three regions of Japan) that may be the most expensive

tea in the world, selling for up to $1,000 a pound. Pu-erh is a black tea from China’s Yunan province; its double-fermented leaves are pressed into balls or bricks, then aged in caves (sometimes for years) to achieve a musty, earthy flavor. Silver needle jasmine, a prized white tea from China’s Fujian province, consists of silvery, down-covered tea buds (picked over a few days in spring) to which jasmine blossoms are added for scent.

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The Finer Details:

Black Tea

How to Brew: Bring the water to a rolling boil. Steep one teaspoon or bag per cup for three to five minutes.

Green Tea

How to Brew: To avoid bitterness, heat the water to just below the boil (when a few bubbles start to rise), or let it boil, then set it aside for 10 minutes. Steep one teaspoon or bag per cup for one to two minutes.

Oolong Tea

How to Brew: Follow the directions for Green Tea.

White Tea

How to Brew: Heat the water as you would for green tea, then steep one teaspoon per cup for 3 to 10 minutes.

Match a Tea

How to Brew: Add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of Matcha to 2-3 ounces of fresh water just below boiling. Add more water to desired taste. Stir or whisk until frothy. Refrigeration of Matcha is recommended.

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Herbal Tea

How to Brew: Heat the water as you would for green tea, then steep for 7 minutes.

Tea Necessities The two crucial functions of teaware include bringing the water to the right temperature and steeping the tea to the right intensity.

The Stovetop Kettle Stainless steel reigns. It lasts longer than glass, and it doesn’t taint the flavor of the water the way copper can.

The Cup

When it comes to the cup, you want something that will keep your tea warm right to the bottom. Look for a cup that is narrow and made of glass. There’s something to be said about drinking tea from fine bone china, but if you’re looking for cozy, stick with glass.

The Strainer

If your teapot doesn’t have an infuser, you’ll need a strainer that sits atop your cup to avoid drinking a mouthful of leaves. Be sure it’s stainless steel, which won’t rust or alter your brew’s flavor.

The Teapot

Ceramic is your number one bet for heat retention, with glass coming a close second. If you prefer to note the color of your tea or if you’re brewing some of the hot new flower teas, you’ll want to go with glass. The novelist Alice Walker wrote, “Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors.” And with the best of winter still ahead of us, what a perfect image. Canadian tea websites worth perusing:

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