There has long been quite a debate over how to make the perfect cup of tea. As a nation of tea drinkers – the Irish actually drink more tea than we Brits do – it’s hardly surprising that such a debate has raged for centuries, nor is it at all surprising that we haven’t agreed on the perfect method. Does the milk really go in first?
Left in the bag or box or put in a tin? Who really knows how tea should be properly stored? Not many of us by the looks of things, but storing tea correctly so that it retains its full flavour is simple. According to Twining’s with its ‘300 years of expertise’, “Tea could absorb the moisture and the smells in the kitchen so why it is important to keep the tea/teabags in a sealed jar or tin.” There you have it, it’s that simple to store your tea properly. Now to find a sealed jar or tin …
The steeping process
How many minutes to let tea steepen? That’s another debated and argued upon aspect of the tea making process, with some sources like Twining’s stating that tea should brew for “two and a half to three minutes” and others, like the British Standards Institution (BSI), claiming that six (minutes) is the magic number.
How much tea per person should be added is also debatable, though fortunately many sources have the sense to state that you can add as much or as little tea as you wish to get the flavour just how you like it. With sensible statements like that, who would have thought all this malarkey would still be going on after all these years?
You know how to make the perfect cup of tea for your taste buds, so make it how you like. But please read on as the debate continues below!
When to add the milk
This is probably one of the most debated aspects of the tea making process and caused many a row in many a household, and at many a greasy spoon, over the years.
The experience shows that the best results are obtained when the temperature of the liquor is in the range 65 to 80°C when the milk is added.
Twining’s states that, “Historically, the ‘milk in first’ rule was to protect the fine bone china it was served in – it’s a very individual thing.” Indeed it is, but when should it be put in, before or afterwards?
This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg where the debate on how to make the perfect cup of tea is concerned. There are many other aspects of the process that continue to be argued over, like whether loose tea or tea bags taste better, and what that oily residue that sometimes appears on the surface actually is. It’s the essential oils released by the tea leaves.