Challenge Yourself: The Art of Making A Cup of Tea


photo via flickr.com/laurelfan

By Maria Masters

You’ve probably heard that wine is best when it’s allowed to breathe for ten or fifteen minutes before serving. Or perhaps you have your own tricks for making the perfect cup of coffee, like scrubbing that coffee maker down so residue doesn’t muddy up your brew. But did you know there are secrets for pouring the perfect cup of tea as well?

As Peggy and Tiffany mentioned, they received Lipton teas to help them stay hydrated. (Not only is tea delicious and calorie-free, but studies also suggest that it can speed up weight-loss and lower a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes.) So we asked Lipton for the inside scoop on preparing the perfect cup.  Follow their tips:

Get Fresh. Bottled is best for making tea. But if you’re going to the faucet, run the water for a few minutes. Doing so ensures that the water is as fresh as possible.

Watch The Clock. Green tea only needs about 1 to 4 minutes, but black tea generally takes about 3 to 5 minutes. For a stronger brew, let the tea steep longer.

Keep It Warm. If you tend to sip your tea slowly, use a tea cozy. Some of the brew’s flavor is lost when you reheat the drink.

What’s your favorite tea? Share in the comments below.

Peggy, Week 7: Breaking the Tea Habit

lipton tea

This week, Family Circle asked Lipton to send us a large supply of decaffeinated green and herbal teas as a part of the hydration challenge. If you follow my blog, you know I normally drink tea all day long.

I drink a mug of black tea on my back porch, as the deer eat my grass and the fog lifts over the trees. I enjoy a mug in the car, while I listen to an audio book from the library. I use my commute time to catch up on my “reading.” I alternate between fiction stories from authors I follow and novels I have always said I would read, but have never taken the time to finish, such as Catch 22 or Catcher in the Rye.

Once at work, I grab a fresh mug for the morning read-out of screening mammograms, and make another once I finish the first biopsy. My mug of tea travels with me throughout the day, as I tell patients their results of their diagnostic testing and biopsies. The process of making the fresh mug of tea rejuvenates me as much as the tea itself. As I finish the tea, I am ready to, once again, be in the moment.

The everyday, black tea, I usually drink happens to be Lipton. This is the brand we purchase at work. I also keep a supply of aromatic, specialty black teas: Christmas Blend, Tazo’s Earl Grey, and Harrod’s 1840 blend for my extreme moments—those that are either really good, such as a sunrise over the beach when no one else is awake or those that are really bad, such as telling a friend that their cancer is back.

During this challenge, I have tried to:

  • Alternate a mug of water with a mug of tea in order to increase my total water intake.
  • Switch a mug of black tea for a mug of green tea in the afternoon.
  • Cut down on the black tea.

But tea is my one vice I don’t think I will ever be able to break! What’s yours? Post a comment and let me know.

Peggy, Week 5: How I Got Hooked On Tea

photo via flickr.com/anamobe

Some people love the fizz of an icy glass of soda going down. Some people need the aroma of coffee waking them up in the morning and kick-starting their day. But my beverage of choice is tea. And I drink a lot of it. About 12 to 15 cups. I love hot tea – earl grey, with no milk or sugar. For some people, the caffeine in tea keeps them up all night. But for me, the hot tea has a calming effect.

My overindulgence of tea began in college. Bryn Mawr College is one of the “Seven Sisters” colleges, a designation given to the top all women’s colleges in the days when the Ivy League schools were open only to men. As such, it is a grind school, an intense learning environment in which everyone studies, the polar opposite of a party school. “Teas” are a big part of the Bryn Mawr College tradition. Accepted students are invited to a tea by alumni living in their area, every morning at 10 am we had tea and doughnuts in the Great Hall so professors and students could mingle, and there were tea invitations associated with Lantern Night.

Lantern Night is a night in mid-November when freshwomen gather in the cloisters, which look like an atrium at the center of the Hogwarts castle, and are presented with their class lanterns by their sophomore classmates. Passing the lantern from one class to the next, symbolizes the light of knowledge passing from one class to another. The colors of the lantern represent the four elements: water (dark blue), air (light blue), fire (red), and earth (green). My lantern is light blue. Attached to the lantern are invitations to teas – ranging from black and white Russian teas, to tea and crumpets at the dean’s house.

Although I love the smell of coffee, I do not enjoy the taste. As a medical intern, working 36-hour shifts, tea was always available on the floors (for free, the only price I could afford), and I could make it fresh at any time.

My emotional connection to tea aside, there may be no better time to try and decrease my tea intake, so I will try to drink more water and less tea over the next month. I am not giving up tea completely, because that could cause my staff to quit!

What beverage are you hooked on? Post a comment and tell me!