This section is from the book "Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery", by Mary E. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery; A Textbook Of Domestic Science For Use In Schools.
A. Put a teaspoonful of tea in each of two enamelled-ware saucepans, and pour upon one a cupful of boiling water; upon the other a cupful of water not quite boiling hot. Let them stand five minutes. Which is darker in color? Which stronger in taste? What action has the water had on the tea? Which is the best solvent of tea, boiling, or merely hot water? (Observe that in water below the boiling-point the leaves float.)
B. Pour off half the tea made with boiling water, and let the rest stand ten or fifteen minutes longer. Meanwhile, pour another cupful of boiling water upon a spoonful of fresh tea, and boil it five minutes. What is its color? taste? Add to this, to the tea standing on the leaves, and to the tea poured off, a few drops of copper sulphate. Does it act on all alike? At what temperature should water be for making tea? How long should it steep? Should it boil? Give your reasons.
C. Take out a few of the wet tea leaves and unroll them; find, if possible, an unbroken one; note its pointed shape and notched edges. Do you find other kinds of leaves? Any sticks or other foreign matter? If the tea is Young Hyson, Pekoe, or other high-grade tea, look for buds.
Boiling water poured over tea dissolves its theine and flavoring matter, making a delicate, refreshing drink; water below the boiling-point draws these out imperfectly, and, in consequence, the tea is insipid. Boiling the tea, or letting it stand long on the leaves, extracts the tannin. Tea made by adding fresh water to old leaves in a pot that stands on the stove all day contains enough tannin to make it highly injurious.
1. Keep the tea in a closely covered glass jar or tin canister; if exposed to the air it loses flavor. 2. Use a china, or silver, or earthen teapot; never a tin one. 3. Have the teapot hot and the water boiling at the moment the tea is made. 4. Steep it not over five minutes; never let it boil.