I'm lucky my local co-op carries many delicious loose teas. I adore Rishi tea (from Milwaukee)1, particularly their Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong, Jade Green, and Mahgreb Mint Green, as well as my own special mix2.
I've discovered that tea tastes so much better when it's brewed at the right temperature. Oolong brewed at 175° or Green at 165° is delicious. (Boiling water is the right temp for mint tea and other herbals.)
This blog post explains how to judge water temperature by evaluating the bubbles in the pot:
and since I have a clear glass kettle, I followed those rules for a while.
Then I realized there was a simpler way: pouring the hot water between glasses until it's cooled to the right temp. You'll have to get an accurate thermometer to develop the right technique, but from then on it's something even I can do in my pre-caffeinated morning stupor.
With my tall glasses and kitchen temperature, I need to pour once from the boiling kettle, into a glass, then four more times between glasses, and then finally pour the cooled water on the (wet) teabag and steep for a minute. Six pours results in 175° tea for my Oolong. One more pour cools it down enough for Green tea.
Why do I use a tablespoon? Short brewing times and more tea provide a more delicate flavor. I can also get four full glasses of tea from that bag.
Are you a tea drinker? What kind do you like, and why?