Tea lovers rejoice: The winter days are shorter, colder and rainier, meaning it's officially cup of tea season.
Whether you're enjoying an English Breakfast out of fine china or sipping a grassy green tea in a Japanese tea house, enjoying a proper cup of tea can be a ceremonial experience.
To warm up the chilly season here in New Zealand, the tea experts at airline Cathay Pacific and tea brand Jing have put together some top tips on how to create an authentic experience in your very own kitchen.
Felicity Fowler, Jing's 'Head of Tea Experience' - yes, that's a thing - says whether you enjoy herbal, green, white or black tea, her tips will help emphasise the relaxing benefits of a simple cuppa.
Choosing your tea
Green, white and black varieties are common favourites for tea drinkers. They're packed with antioxidants, which deliver an array of different benefits: Green contains an antioxidant known to stabilise free radicals and fight disease, whereas black tea's antioxidants help to lower inflammation.
Before infusing your tea, choose a leaf that is most enjoyable for your palate. White tea will deliver light, delicate sweet flavours, green is perfect for those who enjoy a fresh grassy or vegetal taste, black is best for drinkers who want deep, rich flavours and oolong tea has an intense aroma and experience.
It's also important to note that as all teas, no matter what type, contain caffeine, so if you're sensitive to the effects of caffeine you may want to switch to a herbal infusion later in the day.
Infusing your tea
For a better taste experience, we recommend using loose leaf tea rather than bagged. When made loose, the tea leaves have the space to unfurl and release more of their incredible flavour in each cup. You can also choose how many leaves you use and so control how full-bodied, flavourful or light your tea is, tailoring to your personal preferences.
As a general rule, infusing 4g of tea per 250ml of water for 4 minutes will give a great result.
With the right teapot, making loose tea at home is just as simple as using a teabag. Try using a teacup with an infuser that fits inside it or a teapot with a filter built into the lid. These are readily available and both will provide a hassle-free way to make it at home.
As 99 percent of your cup is water try using filtered water to ensure the best taste delivery. When it comes to water it's also worth noting your temperature - 95-100C brings out the strength and body from black and oolong teas; 60-80C is better for bringing out the delicate, fresh and sweet flavours of white and green teas.
Top tip: For 60 percent just add 40 percent cold water to your pot, for 80 percent, add 20 percent cold water.
Finally, don't forget to decant the full pot once it's infused. Not only will this ensure the final drops, which include a lot of the flavour, are released but it also means the leaves are not left in the water which can bring out bitter notes.
Do this and they can be reinfused two or even three more times.
Mixing your tea
Adding milk and sugar is a common practice for tea drinkers in New Zealand. If this is your personal preference, make sure to not add too much of either so as not to overpower the rich flavours of the tea leaves.
Enjoying your tea
Enjoying tea goes beyond its actual consumption - each step of the tea making process can bring a sense of mindfulness.
From the feeling of the tea leaves in your hand to waiting for the kettle to boil and enjoying the rich aroma your brew emits as you wait for it to steep, each stage of the tea making process should be done with purpose and presence in order to maximise full enjoyment.