Making Tea


Nowadays, if you want to enjoy drinking black — according to European classification — tea, you should follow nine very important rules. Only obeying all of these rules you can pay attention to such nuances as warming a tea pot, covering it with a tea cozy and so on. Now let me introduce these nine rules to you.

Ahmad Limited Edition Silver Needle. White tea.
Ahmad Limited Edition Silver Needle. White tea.

1. Tea drinking brings real pleasure only when you have several teas on your kitchen shelf and you can choose one according to your mood.

2. Water must be water. This is banal, but with the spread of water supply networks (with chlorine and other as nice a chemical) sometimes it becomes problematic to get colorless and flavorless liquid. Use filters, buy bottled water, find clean springs with soft water, and do not use kettles with a lot of fur.

3. Water should not be over-boiled. You don’t have to seize the moment of the ‘white spring’ (the condition of water some dozen seconds before it begins to boil). Let the kettle boil, but not too long. Do not boil water repeatedly — it greatly reduces the amount of oxygen in the water.

4. The tea pot should be porcelain, clay or glass. It should be flavorless, and, of course, should not add any strange taste to tea, as is the case with some metal tea pots or with the ones that have plastic parts.

Ideal cup.
Ideal cup.

5. Better drink tea from a cup and not a mug (the cup is wider, and the mug is taller). Leave glasses for trains and misinformed retrogrades. The cup should have thin walls if possible.

6. If you intend to add anything to tea (sugar, milk, lemon, liquor) — you better make tea stronger. If you are interested in the taste of tea itself, then do not make it too strong.

7. Wait till tea gets a bit cooler. There is no need to burn one’s mouth with a precious thing — simple boiled water would do for it just all right.

8. No ‘secondary’ tea! Do not be lazy to brew yourself and for your guests fresh tea every time.

9. Do not concentrate exclusively on tea when you drink it. Look aside. Talk, read, listen to music, flirt with women (men) — then tea will be the most delicious.

It is all very easy. Of course, one needs skills to follow all these rules simultaneously — but any real pleasure requires some training ;)

One more thing. At present time — when tea is in fashion — we are surrounded with large amounts of tea accessories. Examining them in specialized shops one can think that by complexity and number of tools employed tea making surpasses such things as removal of the appendix or bank robbery.

Zisha clay, fancy sugar, tea eggs, tea cups with bars for mustaches, thermometers for tea, and so on and so forth. These are all tinsel. Influence of different things on the quality of tea drinking may be expressed in percentage. I will do it but first I will tell you a parable.

Winter. Blistering cold. I am ten. My father and I are fishing on the ice-bound Pskov Lake — close to Estonia. My Father is a true fisherman, almost all his fishing-tackle (rods, spoon-baits, etc.) he makes himself — with love, patience and a fairly good skill. He is very proud of his fishing-tackle.

We are just about to move to new holes, and here comes this old Estonian. He looks at the tackle a long while respectfully and then says (in this charming slow Estonian manner), “Goot fishing-tackle you have…” Silence falls as my father’s face brightens up with pleasure. The man continues, “But it is all trumpery…” Father roused himself, “Why trumpery, what is trumpery!?” The man answered with a phrase which as you understand I still remember,

“Well, your tackle is trumpery… If there is fish — it can be caught even with pliers…”

The curtain falls.

This is how matters stand. In tea making, there are two things whose quality is as much more important than other entourage as the presence of fish is more important than the quality of fishing-tackle.

These two things are good tea and good water. If you have both good tea and good water, only deliberately can you spoil the drink (adding some kerosene, brewing it for three days, using utensils that smell). Multiple pieces of advice, which any article about tea is full of, (stirring, pouring in and out, filling two thirds of a tea pot, warming, covering, etc.) is a polish. It can make good tea better, but it cannot make good tea out of whatever.

Thus. The most important are good tea and good water. They provide for 80 percent of a successful tea drinking. Then come mood, company and conversation — 10 percent. Then the skill and eloquence of the person who is making tea — 5 percent. Three percent goes to snacks to accompany tea drinking, and two percent more — to tea-things in which you brew and serve the drink.

Of course, all these percent rates are very relative. A tea pot with a plastic lid which smells of detergents can ruin everything. But let us not consider such extreme situations.

The conclusion I want to make may seem rather illogical. There is no sense in buying expensive Yixing tea pots and hoping they will miraculously change the taste of a bad tea.

They will not.

Denis Shumakov

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