Tea specialist Julia Matson has some pointers and facts to share:

• Instead of prefilled teabags or teaballs, use unfilled tea filters, which are roomier, letting the loose leaves fully expand and more of the essential oils to be extracted.

• Use fresh filtered water.

• Different teas should be brewed at different temperatures. Black tea is best at about 205, green at 175 and white at 165.

• Warm the pot you will serve the tea in by swishing very hot water around in it for several seconds, then dumping it out and filling immediately with your freshly brewed tea. Microwaving is not recommended.

• The term "high tea" is often misused. "High Tea is really a casual dinner," Matson said. "Afternoon Tea is with sweets and little sandwiches, and if you add Champagne, it's Royal Tea."

• Tea is the only plant known to have both caffeine for alertness and the amino acid L-Theanine, which calms the nervous system.

• Where to find her Bingley's Teas: Bibelot gift shops, Blue Ox Coffee Co., www.bingleysteas.com.