Here in Britain we all love a good cup of tea. In fact, we’re so obsessed with tea that the British Standards Institution has written a standard for preparing it (ISO 3103 if you want to get technical). You can even throw in a second method, as the Royal Society of Chemistry has published their own recipe for success.
But for those of you who don’t have the time to brew a cuppa in a lab, or even own a thermometer to make sure the water is just hot enough, you need a quick and easy way to guarantee success. Enter the fake tea connoisseur lesson here to help you brew a perfect black cup of tea.
Before you start, make sure its black tea that you are brewing. This is critical. Do not skip this. There is nothing worse than a green or white tea that has been steeped in water that’s too hot. If you want science talk, you’re looking for 95°C or 203°F – but keep it simple and let your freshly boiled water sit for maybe half a minute before pouring it over your tea bag.
#SpoonTip: Tea will always taste 1 million times better if it’s out of your favourite mug
Let it sit for maybe a good 3 – 5 minutes before taking out the tea bag. If you leave your tea bag in for less, you may as well be drinking hot water. If you leave your tea bag in for too much longer, it’ll give you an aftertaste that feels like you just licked a pair of dirty jeans. Just be careful you don’t squeeze out the excess water, because apparently you’ll get nasty stuff (tannins) in your tea and no one wants that.
Now for the big debate: milk or no milk? Should you add the milk before or after the water? Unless you’re really not looking for a real tea experience, you want to be adding some milk. Even if it’s just a little splash (my personal preference), it’s not a real cuppa without it. Oh, and please make sure its real milk and none of that cream stuff. How you do it though, is the real question. Britain is divided when it comes to the process of adding milk. According to our friends at Royal Society of Chemistry, you have to add the milk first because otherwise the proteins will denature.
However, George Orwell (aka the OG tea recipe writer) is team milk last. I’ll let him explain the undefeatable logic to you. “By putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk, whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.” Boom. Orwell trumps science.
All that’s left to do is to enjoy your cuppa. Unless of course you feel like you need to add something sweet. All I have to say to that is, you shouldn’t. If you’re reaching for the sugar, you’ve brewed your tea for too long. Add a splash of milk and be surprised at the difference it makes. Now let that tea cool down just a little bit, sit back and enjoy. Maybe even down it like Adele.