Ah, the Perfect Cup of Tea – one of Britain’s most controversial topics. Milk or no milk? How many sugars? Milk first or water first? New to the UK and have no idea what all the fuss is about?
"Tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country but the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes"
– George Orwell, ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’, 1946
As famous author George Orwell identifies, the correct way to make a cup of tea has been the stuff of violent disputes for decades, probably even centuries. There’s even been scientific research into the subject. To clear things up, we’ve compiled some guidelines on how we make the perfect cup of tea here at Jan de Vries.
Step 1: Pick the perfect flavour. This is a crucial moment in the tea making process – will you go for your regular cuppa, a fancy Earl Grey, or maybe a flavoured tea, like Chia and Vanilla? Have a look at our range of teas for some ideas.
Step 2: Boil fresh, clean water. Oxygen plays an important role in releasing the flavours of the tea, and reboiling old water removes this oxygen.
Step 3: Warm the teapot by swirling a little hot water around it, then empty and add the teabags. Two teabags should be enough for a regular sized teapot, or one for a mini teapot-for-one, but you can adjust this depending on the size of your pot, and how strong you like your tea.
Step 4: Leave to brew. Once you’ve added your freshly boiled water, it’s important to leave your tea to brew for the recommended brewing time. Different teas have different optimum brewing times, so check the packet or box, and then stick to those guidelines – sometimes you just have to be patient! Covering your teapot with a tea cosy will stop it cooling down too quickly.
Step 5: Remove the teabags. When you’re ready to serve, remove the teabags from the pot, as this prevents your second cup from over-brewing (because let’s face it, there will be a second cup). When you take them out, make sure you don’t squeeze the teabags as this releases bitter tasting tannins into your beautifully brewed tea.
Step 6: Choosing the right kind of cup. Porcelain cups make the best cup of tea, since ceramic cups are more porous and will let your tea cool quicker. Porcelain doesn’t have to be expensive – we can almost guarantee your local charity shop or market will have stacks of them.
Step 7: Now for the controversial bit – add the milk to the cup FIRST. This allows the milk to heat more evenly and slowly as you add the hot tea, preventing the milk from denaturing and leaving a bitter taste. If you’re using soya milk you may find that it curdles when you add it to tea. Adding the milk first should prevent this, but if it doesn’t, try pouring the hot tea in slower, or warm the milk up in the microwave first. Bear in mind that lots of teas taste just as good, or even better without milk – we never add milk to fruit teas or Earl Grey, for example.
"How can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt"
– George Orwell
. Step 8: Add sugar if you like, but no more than a teaspoon, as this will mask the tea’s natural flavour. If you really like sweet tea, try a flavoured or fruit tea, but we’d strongly advise against adding salt and pepper!
Step 9: Once you’ve poured your Perfect Cup of Tea, put the tea cosy back on the teapot so it’s still hot for cuppa number 2.