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A Perfect Pot of Tea

Brewing is Simple, but There Are a Few Tricks

The holidays just cry out for a tea party. You can book your tea experience at one of several local tea rooms, or you can make your own. Making tea’s not hard, but there are some tips worth mentioning.

“Hot, hot water,” says Leah Blake, manager and main baker at The Queen’s Parlour Tea Room at Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs. She knows what she’s talking about. She estimates she’s brewed 5,000 or so pots of tea just for the tea room.

She’s a purist. She takes her tea plain.

Customers in the tea room often prefer it that way, too. But some do add sugar and either cream or lemon.

“We have such a wide variety of teas, most people just want to taste the flavor of the tea,” she says. “We get people who are tea connoisseurs and they’ve been to tea rooms all over.”

The tea room serves teas that are high in caffeine, such as Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea, as well as New Moon Darjeeling. (“the champagne of black teas”), she said. 

They also serve moderately caffeinated teas and some decaffeinated ones – all organic and most of them naturally sweet. 

But let’s say you want to have a tea at home. How do you go about making that perfect pot of tea?

“Get your water about boiling point and steep your tea for 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong you like it,” she says. You can use loose tea or tea bags (preferably organic bags). 

“For a 30-40 ounce pot, use about three tablespoons of tea, depending on the tea,” she says. A strong tea might call for slightly less; an herb tea might require the full amount.

Blake does not recommend microwaving the water.

“I would recommend boiling it on the stove – you get a more consistent temperature throughout. The microwave doesn’t do that,” she says. And re-boiling water can make for a flat tea. If you’re going to make a new pot, boil fresh water, she advises. 

If your tea gets cold and you want to rewarm it that’s OK, she adds, “but it will get stronger and will lose some of its aroma. Don’t reheat it with the tea leaves.”

Blake also uses tea in her baking. She often puts Earl Grey in shortbread cookies with a lemon glaze on top. Sometimes adds it to scones or pie crust, “but you have to grind it down really fine before mixing with the flour.”

Maybe you want to have a tea party at home. What do you serve with it?

“We always serve scones with Devonshire cream, some flavor of jam and honey butter,” she says. 

For high tea, they serve four courses: tea and a scone with toppings, a fancy fruit course, four petite sandwiches and four petite desserts with a second pot of tea to complement the dessert.

If you don’t’ have time to make all that yourself, well, then make reservations! 

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