Fresh Recipes for a Great Tea Party
Time your steeping
Let the leaves steep. Oolongs need just 1 to 2 minutes at between 185 degrees (for a greener oolong) to between 195 degrees and 200 degrees (for a darker one) to brew a fine first cup, though some may need 3 to 4 minutes. Green tea needs only to be steeped 2 to 3 minutes at 175 degrees to 180 degrees. However, 5 to 6 minutes of steeping will extract more of the antioxidants from the tea, and you'll still get good flavor.
Most black teas should be steeped right at boiling (212 degrees) for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. (Darjeelings, or teas grown in special gardens in India, may infuse better at 190 degrees to 195 degrees.) The longer you steep, the more bitter your tea will be. If you like your brew with some brawn, simply add more tea leaves. Never steep more than 5 minutes -- unless you are making white tea, which can be infused 5 to 7 minutes, or herbal tea, which requires an infusion of 10 to 20 minutes to extract all the flavors and health benefits from the herbs.
Honey, milk, sugar (cubes are elegant) or lemon can complement black teas depending on your taste. Never add cream; it's too heavy and will overpower the delicate flavors of the tea. Asian-style teas such as green tea or oolong should be enjoyed without additions.