Everything Foodie

Random thoughts and musings on all things foodie.

How To Make The Perfect Cup Of Tea

By V Neale

Sales of teapots are 40% down! I’m not sure whether that will make a front page headline but it does say something about our contemporary tea drinking habits. The ubiquitous tea bag seems to have conquered all with its ease and availability. But are we doing a disservice to the commodity which has such a complex history and can be considered almost sacred?

Tea brewing can engender enormous debate and it is quite a compliment when someone says, ’Ooh that’s a lovely cup of tea.’ At that point everything really does appear to be well in the world. But what’s the consensus about putting milk in first or last, or in fact, taking milk at all? I can sense some of you bristling already as you read. That too might be a tea bag thing, as an older person, and especially one who favours tea leaves, will tend to add milk first. Then of course we could have a useful debate about what biscuit to dunk, but that will take a blog all of its own!

Scientists (always worrying) have concluded patience is the art to the perfect cuppa and tea should be allowed to steep for six minutes before putting the nectar to your lips. The reason for this is the tea has reached 60 degrees, the perfect temperature to unlock all the flavours. However beyond 17 minutes and 30 seconds the tea is spoiled as you are probably aware when you return to it after becoming lost in a phone call or email exchange. Is there anything more unpleasant than cold, stewed tea?

In a recent study, a team from a university research team asked a panel to drink 285 cups of tea and the following results were noted: • The best method for the perfect cup was achieved by adding boiling water to a tea bag in a mug and then leave it for 2 minutes (I have already left the building; my tea bag belongs to the ‘show it and throw it’ movement!) • Remove the bag, add the milk and leave to stand for 6 minutes. How is this possible I ask? Mine is gone the minute it is cool enough to drink!

If you wish to be professional about this it seems tea’s complex taste is the thing which makes it so addictive. Taste testers have accented various flavour notes such as wood and grass when tea is over- brewed and lemon, rose and geranium. Adding milk achieves a profound change and suddenly grass is replaced by vanilla and toffee; the more milk the sweeter the product appears. Fresh water is a must and should not be over-boiled as the amount of oxygen present is reduced, thus explaining why re-boiled water always makes very flat tasting tea.

So now you know, this delicate leaf should be treated with respect and even if you are dunking a teabag it’s time to reinstate a sense of ceremony to the everyday.

2 Comment(s)

I couldn't resist commenting. Well written!

Anonymous / 22-Mar-2013 12:26 PM

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Anonymous / 22-Mar-2013 04:34 PM

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