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A Perfect Cup of Tea Every Time

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The Perfect Cuppa
Tea Pot and Cake
Photo © RFB Photography
Everyone has an opinion on the making of a perfect cup of tea it seems. Whether it is the milk in first or after debate, the length of time the tea needs to mash (steep), even the type of teapot to brew in. 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.

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 - 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.

The Scientists Point of View

Research published in 2011 reveals that 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 60°C, apparently, the optimum temperatures for the flavours 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 60°C. Should the temperature drop below 45°C the flavours are destroyed.

Instructions for perfect cup of tea for one

  • Add 200ml 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 10ml of milk.
  • Wait 6 minutes before consumption for the cuppa to reach its optimum temperature of 60 degrees centigrade
And finally ...

The Writers Point of View

A musing, definitely ripe for debate, comes from George Orwell which was 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.
  • lTea loose in pot.
  • Boiling water
  • Stir or shake the pot.
  • Cylindrical cup.
  • Non-creamy milk.
  • Tea in cup before milk.
  • No sugar


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

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