Introduction: How to Prepare a Proper Cup of Tea

Tea is a beverage that many people drink casually everyday, but in many cultures tea making is considered an art form. In this instructions you will not only learn about the various types of tea, but the proper ways to prepare and serve them. Preparing tea is a fairly easy task and does not require any previous knowledge; all aspects of proper tea preparation will be demonstrated in the instructions. Depending on how many people you're serving and the type of tea you choose, the preparation of the various teas should take about ten to twenty minutes.

Step 1: Materials Needed

Materials Needed
In order to properly prepare your cup of tea, you will need the following materials: 
-One tea kettle, either one electric or stovetop. If need be, you can even use a normal stove cooking pot, although this will not produce optimal flavor for the tea. 
-Loose leaf tea in your preferred flavor, choices include black, green, herbal, or white tea. 
- A tea pot 
- Tea cups 
- Access to water 
- Sweeteners such as honey and sugar
-Lemon (optional) 
- Milk (optional) 

Step 2: Safety Cautions

- Tea will be very hot, so be careful not to spill the hot water and burn yourself. 
- Do not microwave water for tea. The flavor of the tea will be ruined. 
- Many of teas including green, black, and oolong all contain considerable amounts of caffeine. 
- Be careful when using electric tea kettle or the stove top, as both can cause fire hazards. 
-Tea can be very hot so it unadvised that children under the age of 13 make tea. 
- If you you suffer burns from tea preparation, get medical attention immediately. 

Step 3: Basics of Tea Making

Basics of Tea Making
Tea is ultimately a beverage made up of a plant called Camellia Sinesis. Various types of tea are produced from this plant using a different picking and processing methods, to produce white, green, or black tea. Herbal and oolong are the exception to this as herbal uses herbs and spices instead of Camellia Sinesis and oolong uses oolong tea leaves.  

Step 4: Selecting Your Tea

Determining what kind of tea you want is a personal preference based on taste, caffeine amount and health benefits. Below are descriptions of the four main tea options you can choose from. 
Green Tea 
Green tea is the most commonly drunk tea in Eastern Asia and is renowned for its health benefits. There are countless varieties of green tea, including Gunpowder, Dragonwell, Sencha, Kukicha, and Snowy Mountain Jian, but the type you want is personal preference. Also note that green tea contains about 24-40 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces. 

Black Tea 
Black tea is a popular choice in Europe and South Asia. It is a rich, strong tea that is the most caffeinated, containing up to 60 mg of caffeine per eight ounces. Like the green tea, it comes in many varieties such as Ceylon, Earl Grey, Assam, and Keemun. Like the green tea, it is simply a personal preference of which variety you like best.

White Tea
White tea is a milder, sweeter type of tea produced from the Camellia Sinensis plant from the Fujian area in China, and is unique due to the fact that the leaves can only be picked three days of the year in spring. It is the least processed tea and is considered one of the healthiest. It has less caffeine than most teas but is also the most expensive.

Herbal Tea
Unlike the other teas, herbal tea does not use the leave of the Camellia plant but instead relies on flowers, herbs, and fruits for its flavor. It is non-caffeinated and often used as a calming drink.

Step 5: Warming the Tea Pot

Warming the tea pot is an important part of tea preparation that is often forgotten. However, warming it allows the tea to maintain its heat for longer and bring out more flavor. To warm the tea pot, fill it with hot water, swirl the hot water around the tea pot, and then pour out the water. 

Step 6: Choosing the Right Cup

The two types of teapot typically used when serving tea are china and ceramic. It is purely a personal decision. Ceramic preserves the tea's heat for longer while china maintains the flavor.

Step 7: Boiling Water

Add one cup of water to your tea pot per people you're serving. Use clean, filtered water as added minerals can alter taste of tea. The water should be fully boiling before adding to teapot, as water that is not properly heated will not infuse tea leaves. 

Step 8: Adding the Tea Leaves

The tea leaves should be fresh and loose leaf, as they provide the most amount of flavor. Add one teaspoon of tea leaves per person, plus one teaspoon for the pot. 

Step 9: Brewing the Tea

Add your boiling water to your teapot and put on lid. The amount of time needed to brew tea varies depending on the type of tea you're preparing. Black tea should be brewed for 2-3 minutes, white tea for 4-5 minutes, green tea for 1 minute, and herbal tea for 5-6 minutes. This can also be altered depending on your taste preference. If you want your tea strong, brew it for longer or if you want your tea weak brew it for a shorter amount of time. 

Step 10: Sweetening the Tea (Optional)

 Many people enjoy adding milk, sugar, or lemon to their tea. This is purely optional step, as whether you want to flavor your tea depends on your personal preferences. At this point the tea should be poured into the teacups so each person can customize what they want added in their tea. For black tea, milk, sugar and lemon are often desired. Green tea is traditionally prepared without milk, lemon or sugar, as they can ruin the flavor. 

Step 11: Finished

Congratulations, you have just learned how to properly brew tea! The guide below illustrates a simple reference for preparing all the types of teas. Enjoy your cup of properly brewed tea! 

Step 12: Citations