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Sip and Celebrate: National Hot Tea Month Essentials

There could not be a better month than January for celebrating National Hot Tea Month.  Whether you have just begun enjoying tea or you are a tea enthusiast, you have a whole month dedicated to tea totaling. 

 

In this article, we will be talking about true teas, not herbal teas.  True teas are considered green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and white tea.  The significance being that all these teas come from the leaves of the Camelia Sinensis plant. 

 

Additionally, we won’t be discussing iced teas as it is, in fact, National Hot Tea Month.  Now that we’ve got the ground rules for this topic, let’s get into the details. 

 

Tea History 

 

Hot tea has a long history.  It has been documented as far back as 618 CE in China, where it began with medicinal practicality.   It then grew into China’s national drink. 

 

Through trade routes, tea eventually made its way through Europe.  However, it did not gain a strong foothold in England until the 1600s.   

 

We all know that tea made it to America along with the colonists, and the rest is, well, history. 

 

Who Started National Hot Tea Month? 

 

It may come as no surprise, I think, that National Hot Tea Month was founded by The Tea Council of the USA, which is the public relations arm for the Tea Association of the USA

 

National Hot Tea Month was created in 1994 by The Tea Council.  It is recognized every January with events, including their previous Photo Sharing Sweepstakes for tea lovers. 

 

Benefits Found in Tea 

 

Aside from a zippy kick of caffeine and a cozy warm-up on a cold day, tea has some useful health benefits, too.  Two of those benefits come from flavan-3-ols and L-theanine. 

 

Flavan-3-ols, also called catechins, are found in fruits, vegetables, and plants.  Studies have shown that they may protect against heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and help lower blood pressure.   

 

For more information on these benefits, click on Medical News Today’s article:  What are the health benefits of black tea? 

 

 

L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in tea.  It is one of the things that gives true teas their well-known flavors.   

 

On top of its ability to make tea palatable, L-theanine may also help you reduce stress as well as relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.  This is due to its calming effect on your nervous system. 

 

Be wary though, due to the caffeine content of tea, there is a stepping off point at which the benefits of L-theanine become ineffective.   

 

Most people will tolerate 3 to 4 cups of tea per day before the effects of caffeine negate the benefits of the other health properties.  Everyone is different, so you will want to pay attention to the effects tea has on you. 

 

Tea Bag or Loose Leaf? 

 

There are two ways to brew tea:  with a tea bag or using loose leaf tea.  The first option, the tea bag, is terrific for beginners and those of us in a hurry.   

 

There is one little problem with conventional tea bags. 

 

Because the conventional tea bag is so small, companies use fine cut leaves or tea dustings.  This is done so that more of the “leaf” comes in contact with the hot water, ideally giving you a more flavorful cup of tea.   

 

Most aficionados will agree that the average tea bag makes a weaker cup of tea than if whole leaf is used. 

 

Some tea companies are addressing the tea bag issue by creating larger dunking options such as tea pyramids, pigs, and sachets.  They allow more room for infusion meaning more flavor when you brew. 

 

The other way to brew hot tea is using loose leaf tea.  The leaves are larger and not confined, which will give you a more flavorful cup of tea.   

 

Tea Tools 

 

Brewing a good cup of hot tea requires some essential items that you will want to have on hand. 

 

Forbes Magazine compiled the following list of items in their article, All the Tools You Need to Brew Perfect Tea, According to the Pros. 

 

  • Electric Tea Kettle to heat your water. 

  • Fine-Mesh Brew Basket to strain loose tea leaves. 

  • Airtight Canister to keep dry tea fresh. 

  • Glass Teapot for a single serve. 

  • Large Teapot for sharing. 

  • Mugs and/or cups. 

 

How to Brew an Enjoyable Cup of Tea 

 

Brewing some hot tea does not need to be a very involved task.  There is still, however, a little bit of art to getting a great cup of tea out of those little leaves. 

 

As tea bags are the easiest to find, we’ll start with the steps to making tea with them from Teabloom

 

Step 1: You will want to boil some water, but only let it go just to the boil point.    Any longer, and it will make your tea taste flat.   

 

Step 2:  Place the tea bag in a cup. 

 

Step 3:  Pour the water over the tea bag in the cup and allow it to steep.   

 

Steep simply means to soak, which is what you are doing with the tea leaves. 

 

Steeping time will be based on the type of tea you are brewing and how strong you would like the tea to taste.  Do not go by color, it is not a good indicator of strength or flavor.  (More on steep time a little later). 

 

Step 4:  Remove tea bag.  You can add a sweetener, plus lemon or milk, per your taste, and sip away. 

 

For loose leaf tea, let’s rely on the expertise of the oldest tea house in London, Twinings.  Their original teashop on the Strand has been in the family for 10 generations, which makes them something of an expert on the subject. 

 

Step 1:  Of course, boil the water and turn off the kettle as soon as the water reaches the boiling point. 

 

Step 2:  Put your tea leaves into either a tea pot, an infuser, or a tea ball.  If you are using an infuser or tea ball, place the filled item into your cup. 

 

How much tea you measure out is dependent on your taste.  A good starting point, if this is a tea you haven’t had before, is about a teaspoon to every 8 ounces of water. 

 

Step 3:  Pour the hot water over the leaves in the pot, or into the cup your infuser or tea ball has been placed in and allow to steep.   

 

Step 4:  If using an infuser or tea ball, remove it from your cup.   

 

If you have gone the traditional route and used a tea pot, pour the tea through a strainer into your cup when done steeping. 

 

You can then add a sweetener of your choice, as well as either lemon or milk

 and enjoy. 

 

Bonus Tips 

 

Steeping time is important.  The length of time you will steep depends on the type of tea as well as how strong you want the flavor to be.   

 

Steep time for black tea is generally 3-5 minutes, while green tea is only 1-2 minutes.   

 

There is a helpful chart that gives tea times for the broad range of teas available.  Just click on Artful Tea to check it out.  Additionally, most companies will include brewing suggestions on the box or tin. 

 

According to Twinings, water temperature also matters to get the best cup of tea.  How hot you need the water is determined by the type of hot tea you are brewing.   

 

There is an easy way to get approximately the right water temperature for your tea without using a thermometer.   

 

  • For black tea:  pour the water over the tea bag or leaves as soon as it comes to the boil. 

 

  • For green tea:  allow the boiled water to cool for 3 minutes in the kettle before pouring over the tea bag or leaves. 

 

  • For oolong tea:  allow the boiled water to cool 5-7 minutes in the kettle before pouring over the tea bags or leaves. 

 

 

Time to Celebrate! 

 

You now have plenty of information to celebrate National Hot Tea Month.  Whether you are just beginning your tea-totaling journey or you have elevated your teatime to an art, here’s to a month of celebrating your favorite hot teas.  Sip-Sip-Hooray! 

 

Feel free to share your favorite tea for sipping in the comments. 

 

Neither the writer nor The Latest View have been compensated by the companies mentioned in this article. 

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