A well-made cup of tea can warm the heart and soul of any tea lover, and maximize tea's health benefits too. On the other hand, a poorly made cup of tea can be extremely disappointing: weak, tasteless, too milky or too bitter...you simply have to get it right!
Here are some tips on how to make the Perfect Cuppa:
- Boil more than enough water - and don't just heat it, boil it.
- Do not re-boil the water - it will become de-oxygenised, which can impact the flavour of your tea.
- The better tasting your water, the better tasting your tea. The best water is filtered or bottled.
- The ideal water temperature varies based on the type of tea. The more fermented the tea (e.g. black tea) the hotter the water should be, whereas less fermented teas (white, green) should be steeped in water that isn't as hot. When the water boils, pour it straight onto black tea, whereas turn off the heat and let the water cool for 30 seconds for white tea and 60 seconds for green tea before pouring.
- Add the water to the tea, not the other way round.
- Leave the tea bag in the water for at least two minutes for green teas and three minutes for black tea - longer if you like your tea strong.
- If you use loose leaves, it's best to make the tea in a tea pot rather than directly in the cup. Use one teaspoon of leaves per person, plus one further teaspoon "for the pot". When the tea is ready, pour it into the cup through a wire strainer.
- With black tea, add just a dash of low-fat milk.
- Do not add sugar! George Orwell famously said that tea - one of the "mainstays of civilization" - is ruined by sweetening and that anyone who dares add even a single teaspoon could not be called "a true tealover". And if you really have to add a lump or two, use white sugar, not brown.
The Royal Society of Chemistry recommends that the perfect cup of tea should be drunk while reading George Orwell's account of 1930s drudgery and vagrancy Down and Out in Paris and London.
Interesting fact: The custom of taking afternoon tea is thought to have been created by a Duchess of Bedford in the 18th century. It is believed the duchess used to complain of a "sinking feeling" in late afternoon, so would have a pot of tea and a snack. She began inviting her friends to join her between 3pm and 5pm.
For more information on Tea and its traditions, read: 'Tea Time: A Healthy Tradition'