Sit down and have a cuppa, it's on us!
WORDS:: CHYKA KEEBAUGH
PHOTOS:: LISA ATKINSON
I KNOW IT SOUNDS EASY, BUT MAKING THE PERFECT CUP OF TEA CAN BE AN ARTWORK IN ITSELF….
As I have been travelling the last few weeks I have indulged in many a cup! From sweet milky teas served in gorgeous china throughout London to delicious aromatic teas served in hand painted glassware here in Morocco. It’s be absolute bliss to unwind with a piping hot drink in my hand which got me thinking - How am I at making tea? Why don’t I take this ten minutes of time out at home? And of course, how can we all make the perfect cup of tea…
BUT HOW DO WE MAKE THE PERFECT CUP? LET ME SHARE SOME TRICKS WITH YOU…
Always make sure you refill your kettle with fresh oxygenated water for each brew; tea loves air, and the bubbles from freshwater help the tea develop the flavour.
Depending on what style of tea you are brewing steeping times will differ. Make sure you read the packaging on your teas as some need longer, and some need less steeping time to get the full effect of the flavours.
If using stovetop kettle, don’t let your water over boil; this can burn the tea leaves. Once the water has reached boiling point, take off the stove.
Most teas need at least three minutes to brew (even teabags) so don’t rush! Also don’t leave the teabag in your cup, or leave your spoon in there! Not only does it look bad but it will also change the flavour of your tea.
Milk never goes in your teacup first! Your tea will never look like tea when you do this, it will look too milky, and that is just not acceptable! Always use full cream milk, you want to enjoy your cup of tea so make the most of it. Indulge a little.
Now, what about the perfect vessel for your tea? There are a few no-no’s we have to get past first. Metal = no; your tea will taste metallic. Plastic = no; tannins from the tea will stick to the cup. Ceramic = no; it’s porous, and your tea will cool down quickly. So the answer is porcelain, and I would invest in a few gorgeous cups that make the experience that little bit more special. Warm that teacup up, for a piping hot cup, I love to microwave or let some boiling water sit in the cup before I pour the tea in.
Mastering the art of Moroccan Tea…
A ‘performance’ is what comes to mind when I think of Moroccan tea. The ritual of adding in the herbs, steeping to add depth and flavour, the pouring from a height to promote a fluffy bubbling, every thing about Moroccan tea is dramatic and I love it! But how do you make it?
This famous tea is made by steeping green tea ( a variety called ‘Chinese gunpowder’ which is a flavour not a brand) with a generous handful of peppermint or spearmint leaves, sometimes even other flavours that take your fancy! I love that Moroccan hospitality dictates that one must always offer tea to both drop-ins and expected guests, a little tradition that suits me to a tee!
1 tablespoon gunpowder green tea leaves
1 large handful fresh spearmint leaves, washed
1/2 litre (about 2 cups) boiling water
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
Bring a litre or more of water to a full boil.
Swirl a little of the boiling water—about 1/4 cup—in your teapot to rinse it. Discard the water.
Add the gunpowder green tea to the pot, then pour a few tablespoons of boiling water over the leaves. Allow the leaves to soak briefly, then swirl the pot to rinse the leaves and discard the water.
Add the mint leaves and the sugar, and fill the pot with 1/2 litre (about 2 cups) boiling water. Leave the tea to steep for five minutes or longer.
Gently stir the tea and serve.
Multiple glasses are to be had when enjoying this amazing tea because it’s all about being in the moment and enjoying what’s in front of you. No rushing this tea, savour it because whilst drinking your first glass of tea, which is always quite strong, it;’s time to replenish your teapot with more tea leaves and sugar. Large handfuls of fresh mint will also be added, and then again - fill the teapot with boiling water. It is this second pot of tea, fragrant with mint and usually heavily sweetened, that has gained fame both within and outside of Morocco. But the tea ceremony hasn’t finished here!. In Saharan tradition, a third pot is traditionally brewed while the second is enjoyed, making tea time a long, leisurely affair.
Always clean your kettle out regularly! It’s very easy to forget to clean a kettle and yet it's something we use daily. All you need to do is fill it with equal parts vinegar (or lemon) and equal parts water, soak for an hour then simply boil the kettle. Once it's boiled tip it out, rinse it, and admire your handy work. It’s that simple. If there are some scales on the inside, run through this cleaning process again, then follow up with a quick wipe out using a damp cloth and bicarbonate soda, making sure you thoroughly rinse and reboil after.
So, who’s for a cup?