Instead of resigning yourself to the inevitable disappointment of a lukewarm brew, here are a few practical solutions for keeping your tea piping hot.
Turn Up the Heat
The first -- and easiest -- thing you can do is heat up your cup (or teapot) before ever pouring your tea. The reasoning is this: If you pour hot liquid into a cool vessel, that vessel will absorb the heat, pulling it away from the liquid. That’s great if you want your beverage to cool down, but not so awesome if you want it to stay hot. To circumvent this everyday phenomenon, just pour very hot water into your cup, swish it around or let it sit for a few moments, pour it out, and then add the tea (and more water if you’re steeping directly into that vessel). I mean, you’re already boiling water, so why not?
Another classic method for keeping tea hot involves a small metal apparatus with a tea light or other heating element underneath. You light the candle, then you place your mug or teapot on top to keep things nice and toasty. These days, you can also get electric warmers that sit on your desktop like a coaster. Super convenient!
Of course, there’s always the traditional tea cozy. You know how sweaters keep you warm during the winter? Well, cozies are like sweaters for your tea. They come in a variety of styles, from cute knitted numbers to sleek and modern neoprene sleeves. You can also get them for just one cup or a whole pot, and they’re perfect for on-the-go sipping; I keep a one-cup insulated sleeve in my purse at all times. If you’re a crafty type, you can even make your own cozy with any number of the clever patterns currently circulating the internet.
Speaking of insulation, travel mugs aren’t just for travel! A good double-walled thermos can keep your tea hot for up to nine hours as long as you don’t open it too frequently. Drink directly from it or use it in lieu of a teapot. I have one from Contigo that I absolutely adore, and my tea stays hot all day. For the science-minded, a new mug has recently entered the scene. Called the Temperfect, it uses phase-change materials and vacuum insulation to keep beverages at the perfect drinking temperature for hours.
Make It Last
If you like to drink large amounts of tea throughout the day -- or work in an office with other tea lovers -- you may want to pick up an air pot. You’ll typically see air pots at coffee shops and gas stations, doing their duty and keeping liquids hot until you’re ready to press the button and release their goodness into your mug. It wasn’t until recently that I realized you can buy an air pot of your own online or at just about any kitchen shop for a very reasonable amount of money. Seriously, this is my ideal version of a water cooler.
Last but not least, put a lid on it! By capping your mug, travel cup, or teapot, you’ll keep steam -- and, therefore, heat -- from escaping and cooling off your tea too quickly. There are some really cute mugs out there that have lids, like the Tea Forté KATI series, but if you don’t have a lid all you really need do is place a saucer on top of your teacup to seal in the heat.
Now that you have the know-how, you can get back to your cozy reading spot with tea that stays the perfect temperature, all evening long.
All photos courtesy of author.