The British are known to be a nation of tea lovers. According to the UK Tea Council, 66 percent of the British population drinks tea every day and 60.2 billion cups are consumed each year. For centuries people have been debating about how to make the perfect cup of tea with institutions like the Royal Society of Chemistry disagreeing with individuals such as George Orwell. However here are some tips most experts agree on:
- In some parts of the country the water is hard and the minerals it contains give rise to unpleasant tea scum. If you live in a hard water area use filtered water
- Bottled mineral water can produce the same tea scum
- In some parts of the country the tap water is strongly chlorinated and this can affect the taste of the tea. If you live in one of these areas use filtered water
Temperature of the water:
- Air in the water is critical, so avoid re-boiling as this drives out that all important air
- The water must be just off the boil when poured over the tea. Too cool,and the tea will not infuse properly
Type of tea and storage:
- Many believe that the tea used must be of high quality and leaf is preferable to bag because it infuses better. However this is a matter of taste. What is agreed on is that storing tea leaves in an air tight container is essential to maintain its freshness and to avoid the tea taking on other odours.
Tea brewing equipment:
- It is generally agreed that using a teapot is the best way to make tea. The pot should be heated and kept warm before the hot water is added. This can be done by rinsing it with boiling water or heating it in the microwave.
Questions of taste:
- The amount of tea used and the length of time the tea is left to brew are always going to be disagreed upon. Both are questions of taste and experimenting is the only way to find how you like it best!
- The chemists say that adding milk to the tea alters the milk proteins, yielding a slightly stale taste, while others claim that putting milk in first gives a more milky, caramelised flavour, which dominates the taste of the tea. However there is no doubt that adding the milk afterwards makes it easier to judge the correct quantity in relation to the strength of the brew
- Finally is it heresy to make tea less bitter by adding sugar? Or should it be advised to moderate the natural astringency of tea? We will leave that for you to decide.