Quick-and-Easy Food Tips from Midwest Chefs
Brew a perfect cup of tea
Tim Smith, "chief leaf" and owner of the Tea Smith in Omaha, says the best cup begins with fresh loose-leaf tea and good water.
Start fresh Use fresh tea; you can't make a great cup with stale or poor-quality leaves. Water quality is also key, because tea is 95 percent water. Tim recommends spring water or filtered tap water. The water should be free from chemical smells and tastes. It should not be hard, but should contain minerals so the tea has something to cling to.
Boil water Skip heating water in the microwave; it results in flat-tasting tea because there's less oxygen in the water. Instead, bring water to a full boil for 30 seconds. The amount of tea leaves to use varies by type; follow your teasmith's suggestions. Generally, try about 1 teaspoon green or black tea or 1 tablespoon herbal tea for every 8 ounces of water.
Watch tea time Water temperature and steeping time vary by tea and should be marked on the tea container. Here are Tim's guidelines:
-- White tea 140° -175° for 3-5 minutes
-- Japanese green tea 160° for 1-2 minutes
-- Most other green teas 160° -180° for 3 minutes
-- Oolongs 180° -208° for 3-4 minutes
-- Black teas, herbals, fruit tisanes 208° for 4-5 minutes
For great tea party recipes as well as more tea tips, see our slide show below.