Choose your water
“[Tea] begins with the water—the element that brings tea to its full potential,” according to the tea gurus at The Republic of Tea. Fresh water, like spring, bottled, and filtered, creates a tastier cup of tea. Tap water, with its minerals, chemicals, and the pipes used to carry it, can negatively alter the flavor of this hot beverage.
Prepare your tea kettle or teapot
The Republic of Tea advises filling your tea kettle with fresh, cold water and heat to a rolling boil—unless you’re making green tea or 100 percent white tea. (Don’t miss the amazing health benefits of green tea.) In that case, stop short of boiling to avoid “cooking” the delicate tea. While there’s a bit of a learning curve involved in how to steep tea, keep in mind that tea should be a sensory experience filled with aroma and flavor. If tea is placed into water that is too hot, it can become flat. If you’d rather serve your tea in a teapot, many experts recommend first swishing some hot water around in the pot until the pot is warm to the touch. Then, dump the water out and add your tea. Preheating the teapot prevents it from cracking when it’s abruptly introduced to a change in temperature.
To strike the right balance, use one level teaspoon of tea leaves or one tea bag for every eight-ounce cup of heated water. If you want your tea stronger, don’t steep it longer. Instead, add more tea leaves or an extra bag. Don’t bother buying bottled tea—it’s more expensive and commercial brews can have more grams of sugar than a soda or slice of pie.