How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Tea

8 CommentsSunday, 26 April 2020  |  Ken

How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Tea

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

 

HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT CUP OF TEA

 

When we talk about anything that involves personal taste, e.g. fashion, films, food, or drink, there are no regulations, and it is no different here. So take what you can from this article, from one tea lover to another, and don't be afraid to experiment to find your own taste. 

 

To start off, I know what you're thinking, 
"Why should I listen to you, Ken?"
Well, probably, because I'm a Brit!

 

In Britain, according to the University of Northumberland, on average, we Brits prepare our first cup of tea at the age of seven and a half years old. This is the part of the reason that in the UK, we consume a staggering 165 million cups of tea per day (not each of course).

Now making tea need not be a complicated matter. Still, it may differ slightly, depending on how you prefer to infuse your tea. That's the crux here that the following is a guideline, not a set of rules, so feel free to adapt where necessary. To make it easy for you to make your perfect cup of tea, I have created a 10 point check-list for you:

 

Here's how to make tea the British way;

 

1. USE THE BEST QUALITY TEA

You can ruin quality tea if you are not preparing it correctly. Still, no proper infusion technique can improve a bad tea. Use a good tea merchant who will always provide the best quality tea.

Also, always keep your tea in a container to protect it from both light and odours. Otherwise, you could end up with a beverage that smells of last night's fish and chips, or worse if it is near the cat litter ... not good!

Obviously, this is not a concern if you buy your tea at Steeping Times :)

 

2. ALWAYS USE FRESH WATER

The most significant ingredient in a cup of tea is water, so always use the best quality available. If you are using tap water, then leave the tap to run for a short period to avoid drinking horrible things that lurk in the pipes. Better still, use a filtration system; This is especially important if you live in a hard water area.

For the best quality, however, do what the Queen of England does for her Earl Grey tea in the afternoon, use bottled water. Although, I'm sure she doesn't make it herself.

Do not boil water for too long, or re-boil it, as it loses oxygen and becomes flat and bland.

Teapot with built-in tea cosy

3. TEAPOT

It is not crucial, but try to get a good quality teapot and always heat it with hot water before you use it. This can make an enormous difference because when you pour in the water, it will remain hot for contact with the tea. Thick teapots retain heat better than thin teapots.

If you brew tea for one person, because you have no friends, think about buying a mug infuser. Small ball infusers are pretty useless as they don't allow tea the space it needs to open up, allowing for a better brew.

4. AMOUNT OF TEA

One rounded teaspoon of loose tea, or one teabag, per person, is the norm, but that may be different for some brews, so make sure you check your tea merchants recommendations. 

If you are using a teapot, it may help to measure its capacity in terms of cups, so you can add the right amount of tea to the pot. It is also a good idea to be reasonably accurate when you first start brewing a new tea. This way, you will know whether to alter the amount of tea according to your personal taste.

Amount of tea to be used

4. AMOUNT OF TEA

One rounded teaspoon of loose tea, or one teabag, per person, is the norm, but that may be different for some brews, so make sure you check your tea merchants recommendations. 

If you are using a teapot, it may help to measure its capacity in terms of cups, so you can add the right amount of tea to the pot. It is also a good idea to be reasonably accurate when you first start brewing a new tea. This way, you will know whether to alter the amount of tea according to your personal taste.

 

5. BRING THE POT TO THE KETTLE

Strange? Not really when you consider that the water will cool down by the time you reach the pot and the water should be boiling, not simmering!. If brewing black tea, pour boiling water directly over the tea. For other teas, like white, green, oolong, etc., the water temperatures need to be lower so check out the chart below for a guide.

Besides, it can be dangerous to transport hot water around the house, especially if for some strange reason, you keep your teapot in the shed at the bottom of the garden.

 

6. STIR THE TEA

Not only is this a British ritual, but it is also an important step. A gentle stir helps separate the tea, allowing it to circulate and to infuse using the available space entirely. 

 

7. COVER YOUR TEAPOT

If you do not possess a good tea cosy, using a folded towel or a woollen hat to cover your teapot to keep it warm. It is not advisable to use dirty socks; remember, tea is like a sponge for odours.

 

8. BE PATIENT

Wait Patiently

Good tea takes time to fully infuse. The colour comes first, then the strength and finally the flavour. A good sign of a high-quality tea is that you can let it steep longer without it becoming bitter to taste. The exception to this is green tea, which is usually better infused for no longer than 3 minutes.

The steeping time depends on the type of tea but start with around 3-4 minutes for black teas. You can always change the infusion time slightly for the next brew to find your personal preference; don't be afraid to experiment. As a side note, often it is a better strategy to increase the amount of tea for a stronger taste, than use longer infusion times.

Teabags take less infusing, 2-3 minutes, as they are generally produced using lower quality dust and fannings (smaller pieces) of tea to enable faster infusions.

 

 

9. POUR YOUR TEA

When the tea is ready, remove the leaves immediately or use a tea strainer if there is no filter in the teapot. Pour the tea half into each cup from left to right and then fill the cups from right to left. This ensures that each brew will have the same strength and the same heat.

Also, thinner cups and mugs are preferable to thicker ones.

 

10. Add Milk, Sugar or Lemon If Required

Personally, I always drink my tea without anything added. Still, it is a matter of personal preference, and there is nothing wrong with adding milk, sugar, lemon, etc.; nobody will laugh at you. 

As I previously mentioned, you should try different ways to make your tea, so do not be afraid to experiment with these additions too. Honey can be delicious, but onions are a no-no; However, for centuries the Chinese would flavour their teas with sweet onions or salt!

 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

There are also a few other considerations:

  • If you are using teabags directly into a cup, always add the milk once the teabag has been removed. Otherwise, the cold milk will cool the water too much for the tea to brew correctly.
  • White, green and oolong teas require cooler water than black, so boil the water as usual and then allow it to cool down a little. As a rough guide, let it sit for 1 minute for oolongs, 2 minutes for green and 3 minutes for white teas, before pouring onto the leaves.
  • Herbal teas are not actually teas because they come from entirely different plants to the tea bush Camellia Sinensis. However, you can infuse them in precisely the same way as black tea. These can often be steeped for much longer, according to your taste, of course

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

How do you brew your favourite tea? 

Did this guide help you achieve a better tasting tea?

Please leave a comment below.

 

Now go and make some perfect tea.

 

Have a Steeping Time!

Ken


John
Monday, 27 April 2020  |  2:35

Thanks Ken for a very entertaining read. I'll go to t foot of our sters (lanky dialect) if anyone can make that more instructive and entertaining!
Looking forward to the next instalment.


Ken
Monday, 27 April 2020  |  2:40

Glad you enjoyed it, John.
'Sters' are a dodgy subject at the moment as I fell down some last week - I had to drink 4 cups of tea before I felt better :)
Have a Steeping Time!


Patty
Tuesday, 28 April 2020  |  2:30

Hi Ken,

Great read! Fun and entertaining. I had no idea about expanding tea, who knew? I guess you did!
I look forward to the next post.
Patty


Ken
Tuesday, 28 April 2020  |  2:33

Thank you for your very kind words, Patty!
Let's hope that tea drinking expands too :)
Have a Steeping Time!


Simon
Tuesday, 28 April 2020  |  2:46

Excellent advice and very entertaining, looking forward to learning more. Now for some tea, what else.


Ken
Tuesday, 28 April 2020  |  2:49

Thank you for your comments, Simon.
Enjoy your tea and let me know if it tastes better now :)
Have a Steeping Time!


Paul
Tuesday, 28 April 2020  |  2:50

Superb first lesson - cant wait to learn more! Thanks for the education Ken!


Ken
Tuesday, 28 April 2020  |  2:54

Glad you enjoyed it, Paul and hopefully it proves useful to you and you enjoy your tea even more :)
Have a Steeping Time!