Make a Perfect Cup of Tea Every Time

  • 01 of 04

    The Perfect Cuppa

    Tea Pot and Cake. RFB Photography

    Everyone has an opinion on the making of a perfect cup of tea it seems, whether the debate is milk-in-first-or-after, the length of time the tea needs to mash (steep), even the type of teapot in which to brew. Here are just three points of view from two professionals, and a writer. As you will see, they have a few points in common; use freshly boiled water, let the tea stand, add milk, the rest it seems is personal preference.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    The Expert Opinion

    A Cup of Tea. Elaine Lemm

    The Tea Expert's Method

    • Warm the pot
      Whether using tea bags or leaf, a quick swirl of hot water means the cold doesn't shock the tea.
    • Use a china teapot
      Why, because it is traditional and part of the ritual.
    • One per person and one for the pot
      Still, the golden rule when using a loose-leaf tea.
    • Freshly boiled water
      Boil the water fresh, (not reboiled) for good oxygen levels.
    • Stir
      Stirring the tea leaves or bags helps the tea to infuse.
    • The Time
      3 to 4 minutes is the time needed for optimum infusion.
    • Milk?
      Milk first or last is an age-old question. Originally milk first was to avoid cracking delicate china cups with hot tea but adding milk after is a good way to judge the strength of the tea. However, it is each to their own.
    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    The Scientists Point of View

    A Spot of Tea. Getty

    Scientists at Northumbria's School of Life Science have discovered that the key to the best tasting brew is to let it sit for six minutes before drinking. Allowing the tea to rest this way avoids it scolding as it has cooled to 140 F/60 C, apparently, the optimum temperatures for the flavors to flow. However, leave it 17 minutes and 30 seconds and the tea will be past its best.

    Their conclusion was to add boiling water to a tea bag in a mug and leave for two minutes. Remove the bag, add the milk and leave for a further six minutes or until it reaches 140 F/60 C. Should the temperature drop below 113 F/45 C the flavors are destroyed.

    Instructions for Perfect Cup of Tea for One

    • Add 1 cup/200 mL of freshly boiled water to your tea bag (in a mug)
    • Allow the tea bag to brew for 2 minutes
    • Remove the tea bag
    • Add 10 mL of milk
    • Wait 6 minutes before consumption for the cuppa to reach its optimum temperature of 140 F/60 C
    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    And Finally...the Writers Point of View

    Traditional Afternoon Tea, OXO Tower Restaurant, South Bank, London.

    A musing, definitely ripe for debate, coming from George Orwell and first published in The Evening Standard, on January 12th, 1946. Tea at this time was still rationed but that doesn’t stop him and his dictates on strong tea. Otherwise, he has some valid points.

    George Orwell’s Musings on Making a Cup of Tea:

    • Only Indian or Ceylon
    • Always in a teapot not urn
    • The pot should be warmed
    • The tea should be strong
    • Tea loose in the pot
    • Boiling water
    • Stir or shake the pot
    • Cylindrical cup
    • Non-creamy milk
    • Tea in the cup before milk
    • No sugar

    Some of this information is extracted from the book, The Great Book of Tea published by Great Northern Books, Oct 2012