5 tips from a tea expert to brew the perfect cup

(BPT) - For most of us, a little evening downtime is not a luxury — it’s a necessity. After a hectic day of work, commutes, kids and dinner prep, we deserve to take a moment to slow down and enjoy some hard-earned “me time.”

Instead of using this time to stream your favorite show or scroll through social media, try a gentle and relaxing activity that puts your focus on the present moment and makes this time truly enjoyable.

“For a relaxing end-of-day activity, there’s nothing quite like preparing and savoring the perfect cup of herbal tea,” says Stephen Twining, whose family founded the world-famous tea brand, Twinings of London, in 1706.

The steps we take to prepare and enjoy our perfect cup of tea can help us unwind and feel refreshed, Twining says. Tea releases pleasing scents, the warm brew makes comforting sensations as we wrap our fingers around the mug and take sips, and there's the deep and satisfying flavors of the tea itself.

Of course, when we’re engaged in a mindful activity, it’s that much easier to let go of daily stress and transition into a more relaxed state. Follow these five tips from Twining to brew your favorite cup of herbal tea, and try making this a part of your end-of-day ritual.

1. Start fresh: The perfect cup of tea starts with a clean mug and a clean kettle of fresh, cold water. Never reuse water that’s already been boiled, because that can weaken the tea’s flavor, Twining says.

2. Don't over-boil: As soon as the water reaches a boil, it’s time to remove the kettle from the heat source.

“I never let the water over-boil because in doing so, you will cause the oxygen in the water to be reduced, making the tea taste ‘flat,’” Twining says. For that reason, he recommends not using a microwave to boil the water.

3. Savor the moment: Set the tea bag in the mug before you add hot water, pouring it directly onto the tea bag. Just then, it starts releasing its herbal scent, so make sure you take a moment to inhale and relax while enjoying the aroma. Twinings offers a range of herbal teas each expertly blended to provide the perfect balance of taste, flavor and aroma. For example, Buttermint has a refreshing blend of peppermint leaves combined with the creamy flavor of vanilla for a smooth taste and rich aroma, perfect for helping you unwind.

4. Wait for the perfect flavor: Many people make the mistake of thinking that once the brew darkens, it’s ready to drink. However, Twining says color merely washes off the tea leaves early in the process, so don’t let the appearance mislead you. To make sure the flavors fully develop, know how much time your tea needs to brew, and keep an eye on the clock. Herbal teas should steep for a full four minutes.

5. Customize and enjoy: Hopefully, you will find your perfectly brewed cup of herbal tea needs no embellishment because the expertly blended herbs and flowers will provide all the flavor you need. But as Twining says, “The best cup of tea is the one you like the most,” so feel free to make adjustments. The recommended add-ins for herbal teas are honey, sugar or a squeeze of lemon — do not add milk or cream. For a deeper flavor, let the tea steep a minute or two longer.

After a long day, you definitely earned this moment, so make sure you take time to enjoy it. If you're interested in exploring Twinings' complete line of herbal teas, visit twiningsusa.com.

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