It's tea time! This week I'm planning an afternoon tea party. On Monday I sent out beautiful floral invitations to my girlfriends and yesterday I put together a menu full of scones, tea sandwiches, and shortbread cookies. Now it's on to the drinks, the tea of the tea party. Start by picking out which teas you will offer your guests. You could make several pots of the same kind, or a few different kinds. I am a fan of options and will brew a couple different kinds of tea. At all of my parties I like to offer an alcoholic beverage, so for those who are in the mood for an afternoon aperitif, I'll shake up a green tea martini. For my tips on brewing the perfect cup of tea and the recipe for the mar-tea-ni,

In honor of the tea party that I am planning this week, I thought it was necessary to go over a few basic suggestions for brewing a warm, wet, wonderful cup of tea.

  • To ensure freshness, store in an airtight container in a cool, dark space.
  • A good cup of tea is only as good as the water used, so choose fresh, flowing, cool, bottled/filtered water.
  • Take care when measuring out the tea because the tea's strength and flavor depends on the quantity of tea in the pot and the amount of steeping time.
  • Generally one bag or 1 teaspoon of leaves is considered a 1 person serving.
  • Do not overboil the water because once it begins to lose oxygen, the flavor of the tea will weaken.
  • The most important step of tea making is the correct brewing time. Brew for too long and the tea will taste bitter, brew for too little and the tea won't have maximum flavor.

    Tea Brewing Time Chart
    Tea Type Steep Time (in minutes)
    black tea 3-5
    herbal tea 5-10
    green tea 1-3
  • Wrap the teapot with a towel or cozy to retain heat while steeping.
  • Strain tea leaves or remove tea bags before pouring into a cup and enjoying.
  • Milk dissolves the best into hot tea so plan accordingly.
  • Do not leave tea uncovered for a long period of time after brewing - drink or refrigerate to retain antioxidants and prevent bacteria from growing.
  • For the best tea, fill a teapot with hot tap water to warm it up; likewise warm up your teacups in a cup warmer or with hot tap water.

  • Green Tea Martini
    From That's The Spirit

    1 ounce green tea, chilled
    2 ounces citron vodka
    1 teaspoon Cointreau
    1 teaspoon simple syrup
    Orange twist

    1. Fill a shaker with ice. Add green tea, vodka, Cointreau and simple syrup.
    2. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
    3. Garnish with an orange twist.

    Makes 1 cocktail.

    What are your secret tips for brewing the best cup of tea around? Please share them with us below. Next up on the party plan to-do-list: the look.