How To Steep Tea: The Water
Always start with cold (and preferably filtered/mineral) water. Hot water saps unsavory minerals and heavy metals from the plumbing, which will impart a bad flavor to the tea that it produces.
The temperature of water is also crucial when preparing tea, as even a difference of just a few degrees centigrade can radically under- or over-extract delicate tealeaves.
In the olden days, before highly accurate mercury and/or digital thermometers, the Chinese determined the temperature of pre-boiling water by the size of the bubbles collecting as the bottom of the kettle. In case you are without a thermometer yourself, you can literally and figuratively “eyeball” you water to get a sense of where the temp is.
How To Steep Tea: The Time
Once you have the water at the temp you like, add it immediately to your cup or teapot for steeping. One teabag or teaspoon of tea produces an average of 6 oz. of tea, so measure carefully.
The following are approximations. Most teabags and loose leaf canisters contain steeping times, so consult those is possible.
How To Steep Tea: The Pour
Once your tea is fully steeping, remove the leaves immediately. If you are using a tea bag or tea strainer, remove it from your cup. You can either preserve the leaves for a resteep or discard them. It’s up to you.
Your tea should have cooled enough to enjoy right away. Let the luxurious, complex aroma waft into your soft palate as you take your first sip. Take note of the different flavors expressions that reveal themselves as the tea cools. Your perfectly steeped tea is good to the very last drop.