Image by Mitch Goldstein and Anne Jordan

How To Make Tea

Boil some water, and drop a teabag into it. That’s how to make tea.

Except, you need to make sure the water is hot enough. Except, you need to make sure you have the right amount of water. Except, you need to make sure you have the right amount of tea. Except, you need to make sure you have good tea, or at least, tea you enjoy. Except, you need to make sure you steep the tea for the right amount of time. Except, you need to make sure your mug is big enough to make tea in. Except, you need to make sure you have milk and sugar if you like that with your tea. Except, you need to make sure you let the tea cool a little bit before you drink it. Except, you need to make sure you have time and space to enjoy the tea.

Except, you really can just boil some water and drop a teabag into it. While it is still tea, the variables are what makes this tea good tea, great tea or just plain tea. One of the most important variables in making tea is time — steep too short, and you get a weak, watered down cup of mostly flavorless water. Steep too long, and you get a bitter, astringent cup of brownish liquid. If you can be patient, if you can allow the tea to bloom, and allow the tea to develop flavors and complexity, you can get something wonderful. The trick it to pay attention and let the tea be the tea, but stop it before it turns over into something you don’t want to drink. You can easily overwork or underwork your tea, ruining it in ways that are results of too much and of too little.

Ideally, you have to spend time experimenting with what tea you like. You need to buy various teas, and brew them in different ways, playing with the options. You have to get your hands dirty and make lots of tea to find out what tea really excites you — and you will need to be tenacious and understand it may take quite some time to figure out. Sure, you can just go to a tea Tumblr blog, or a tea Pinterest, and assume what you see there must be good tea. Maybe in school your teachers told you exactly the right and wrong ways to make tea, and you always did what you were told. You can let someone else do all the thinking for you, and just make tea the way you think they would want you to.

Except, maybe you need to forget all of that, and just start making some tea, and discover what happens for yourself.

Originally posted at mitchgoldstein.com/writing