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  As spring arrives, a cup of tea, hot or iced, is absolutely appropriate for a day in full bloom. Making a cup of loose leaf tea is about as difficult as making a cup of coffee – that is to say, not at all. If traveling, hotels will nearly always have an electric kettle in the room, or available via the concierge. Coffee shops will provide a cup of hot water for free- or a small fee. Once hot water is on hand, measure a teaspoon of loose tea. I always carry a mini tea infuser that triples as a scooper, steeper, and stirrer.

The health benefits of loose leaf over bagged tea are many. Think of it this way – bagged teas contain the dust at the bottom of the barrel. Loose-leaf teas fill the barrel, with antioxidants, flavor and quality intact. One of the practical benefits of using loose-leaf tea over teabags is that the leaves can be brewed more than once. After steeping tea in the mug or teacup, I like to add a bit of coconut sugar and maybe some almond milk to my morning ritual. Whether at home or on the road, it’s the perfect way to begin or end the day.
 
Mint tea is refreshing and the addition of 'gunpowder' ingredients means it’s full of health rewards- green tea for the skin, peppermint for digestion, and spearmint for sinus issues. Drinking at least three cups per day is the best way to benefit. Brew a double batch of Marrakech Mint. Remember to let the water cool off a bit if brewing white or green teas. These teas are more delicate and require less brewing time – 45 seconds to a minute for white tea, 2-3 minutes for green. Stir in a little bit of raw sugar for sweetness. For cold tea, chill a few hours in the fridge or add ice.
 
Black tea is good for much more than a caffeine high. This full-bodied tea contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which are thought to protect cells from damage. The second and third cups are also excellent jet lag remedies- hydrating and soothing. Black and herbal teas (including rooibos and mate) are hearty and can take boiling water. When brewing Assam Breakfast, add rose petals for a little self-love. Stir in a sweetener or milk of choice, if any.
 
Spicy and warm teas are a pleasure in any climate. Rooibos (red) tea is full of antioxidants, and caffeine-free. Ginger aids digestion and combats colds. Cinnamon helps with inflammation. Cloves and cardamom settle the stomach. Enjoy this tea in the evening and sleep peacefully. To make: Brew a cup of Chai Rojo for at least 5 minutes. Add 1-2 teaspoons of coconut sugar. Pour in a bit of steamed or heated almond milk. Add a little Rum if that’s your thing.
 
Ultimately, how does one make the perfect cup of tea? Endless recipes and rules will say ‘do it this way’ or ‘do it that way’. But all that really matters is- do it your way. Experiment, try a sip, tweak if needed, and enjoy.

 
~Lindsey Anne Toledo
 
Lindsey Anne Toledo is the founder of  Blackbird Tea Co.
 
2014