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In Ireland, tea is the most important beverage in every household. Although black tea with milk and sugar might not sound so special, the ritual of preparing a “proper cup” in Ireland is special indeed.
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The tea must be loose leaf Black tea. Irish Breakfast is the preferred variety; it’s a blend of Assam and Ceylon, blended to satisfy the Irish taste for strong, bold tea. In Ireland, tea is most often prepared with milk, so the bolder the tea, the better, otherwise milk would overpower the flavor of the tea.
The tea must be prepared in a warm teapot. For those of you who are new to this particular preparation, you partially fill a teapot with boiling water, and swirl it around to completely warm the pot. When the teapot is sufficiently warm, discard the water, and your pot is ready.
Place the tea leaves into the teapot. Use a teaspoon of tea for every cup of water. Fill the pot with hot water that has just barely come to a boil. If you let the water heat to a rolling boil, it has boiled too long, and the tea will have a flat taste.
Let the tea steep 3 to 4 minutes. You want it to be bold and flavorful. However, don't over-brew the tea past 5 minutes or the tea will become bitter. The solution to perfect tea is to use a timer like this no-frills digital timer. If you prefer sometime more traditional, check out this cute hourglass tea timer that comes with an hourglass for 2, 3 and 5 minutes.
Before pouring the tea into your cup, fill your cup 1/4 to 1/3 with milk (dairy is traditional, but non-dairy is perfectly fine).
Pour the tea into your cup, stir it well, and sweeten to taste.
Enjoy your perfectly brewed Irish cup of tea!